Middle East Project

Prestigious Award

Today [18 February 2020] is the International Psychiatry Conference in Cairo University and the award for best clinical case management was given to Miss Shymaa Mady an EMDR clinician trained by Trauma Aid UK. The award was for her case of EMDR therapy with an elderly client with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). Her supervisor was Dr. Osama Refaat, Professor of Psychiatry at Cairo University.

Many congratulations to Shymaa on this first award for an EMDR clinician.

Award presentation

Middle East Project

We have seen a distinct rise in traumatic experiences in the Middle East during the last decade. The post Arab Spring situation in Syria and other neighbouring countries still gripped by civil war continues to cause terror, displacement, death and poverty across the entire region. The complex Israeli / Palestinian situation is no nearer a resolution. The Iraq War, started in 2003, continues to have serious impact on its citizens.

The demand for help with psychological wounds caused by the trauma of war is overwhelming and the resources to assist are scarce.

The Middle East Project began in November 2013. Thirty mental health practitioners from Syria, Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Jordan and Turkey’s refugee camps began their Trauma Aid UK EMDR Training in Istanbul. It was delivered in Arabic by Mona Zagrout, an EMDR Trainer from Palestine and her team of facilitators. Emre Konuk, an EMDR Trainer in Turkey, generously provided his premises for training.

Video and pictures of training in Gaziantep

This is a four minute video in Arabic about the training in 2016. There is a section in the middle where Sian Morgan, President of Trauma Aid UK, speaks in English about the training. Below are some pictures of Trainees, Trainers and Facilitators.

In 2015 another group of 28 clinicians from the Middle East completed their EMDR training in Istanbul with Mona Zagrout and her team. Again, participants were from Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, Sudan and Syrians working in refugee camps in Turkey.

In 2016 a full EMDR training was held in Gaziantep on the Turkish/Syrian border with the majority of the participants working with Syrian refugees in the refugee camps and communities in that area. A total of 28 participants completed their training with Sian Morgan, an EMDR Accredited Trainer, and Dr. Walid Abdul-Hamid and Dr. Khaled Sultan – both EMDR Accredited Consultants, acting as facilitators and interpreters. Our hosts were the Syrian Mental Health Association who are based in Gaziantep. Four participants from the first cohort also assisted as trainee facilitators.

In April 2017, at the Association’s conference in Gaziantep, all 86 trainees from the three cohorts are invited to attend a training in G-Tep/R-Tep EMDR Protocols (for groups) which will be provided by Asena Yurtsever from HAP Turkey.

In addition, those working with children will be able to attend a Part 1 EMDR Child Training with Prof. Umran Kormaziar, also from Turkey. The training will be translated into Arabic.

Mental health workers trained by Trauma Aid UK were very enthusiastic about EMDR and pleased to have a method that they can use immediately to help relieve the suffering of refugees and locals. They continue to be supported by Skype both from UK EMDR Accredited Consultants and Arabic-speaking Accredited EMDR Practitioners and Consultants. Dr. Khaled Sultan frequently goes to Turkey to offer support to those working locally as well as providing treatment to Syrian refugees.

The project is co-ordinated by Dr. Walid Abdul-Hamid who also runs a WhatsApp group to provide supervision and support.

According to the training team, it is a humbling experience to work with clinicians whose daily lives are at the coal face of trauma. This is the beginning of a continuing Trauma Aid UK project in response to the region’s conflict.

Summary: in the Middle East so far, Trauma Aid UK has:

  • Trained 86 clinicians
  • Trained clinicians from more than eight countries
  • Provided training in Arabic
  • Equipped clinicians to provide EMDR in their home countries with ongoing support
  • The majority of trainees are working directly with refugees

On the ground, Istanbul is one of the few relatively safe venues in the region in which to deliver EMDR training. There are also many travel restrictioins in the area which can prevent participants attending. This can be costly in terms of travel and accommodation.

Trauma Aid UK Trustees would like to express their thanks to:

  • Middle East Co-ordinators
    • Dr Walid Abdul-Hamid, Consultant Psychiatrist and an EMDR Accredited Consultant
    • Dr Khaled Sultan, Consultant Psychiatrist and an EMDR Accredited Consultant
  • Facilitators
    • Dr Walid Abdul-Hamid
    • Dr Khalid Sultan
    • Dr Hamodi Kayal
    • Dr Mamoun Mobayed
  • The team of Supervisors who provide support – some in English and some in Arabic

Some warming comments from the Istanbul trainees:

“For the first time we have been given a new complete approach of therapy, and not a disorganised approach that added to our disorganisation.”

“The Arabic examples and experiences (cases) given by lecturers and facilitators enriched the course. The course has given us the motivation for change and cooperation with others.”

“I came from Iraq where I have experienced a lot of stress, but this course has made me able to feel happy that I will be able to help my fellow Iraqis and I liked being in this group.”

“I felt for the first time that we (Arabs) are O.K. In spite of our differences, we managed to work together.”

“This course’s scientific rather than the emotional dialogue might help us overcome crises in the same way (i.e. being enabled to use scientific rather than emotional methods).”


National Network of EMDR trained Trauma Therapists

In collaboration with the Centre Balsem in Sousse, Trauma Aid UK has fully trained 22 Tunisian, 3 Algerian and 2 Libyan therapists in EMDR.

Dr Ahmed Eleuch is developing a network of dedicated trauma therapists within Tunisia. With so much conflict in the region and the impact from ISIS in particular,  this is an important initiative in the country.  With CPD already in mind, Joanne Morris-Smith offered 3 pro bono places for those who work with children.

Jordan and Egypt

In 2014 and 2015 participants from the University of Cairo were trained in EMDR on our project in Turkey. In 2018 we are working in collaboration with them to provide training in Cairo for their colleagues. The training is being provided by Matt Wesson and Dr Khaled Sultan as facilitator and started February. We specifically asked that participants had a good level of English and we are seeking to allocate them volunteer supervisors from the UK. If you would like to help, please register here.

Forging relationships of this kind produces an EMDR network in the region and we were also invited by a former trainee to work in Jordan specifically with mental health professionals working with an NGO in the Syrian refugee camps. Sian Morgan, Dr Khaled Sultan and Dr Walid Abdulhamid undertook a Part 1 training in April in Jordan for 30 participants.

As the number of EMDR therapists across the region continues to increase, we hope that 2018 will see the beginning of a Regional EMDR Association.

Trauma Aid UK always has in its sights the way we can best help the victims of trauma following the years of conflict in the region. The need is huge and we endeavour to make the best use of our resources both financial and professional to help those in need. We know through the past experiences of some HAP projects throughout the world that simply going in and providing basic training is not enough to sustain and develop a thriving and effective EMDR community or well-trained and experienced therapists locally.

It takes time and continued effort on everyone’s part to make it work. Trauma Aid UK is rightly proud of its achievements to date, given its limitations. All Trustees are practising EMDR professionals who offer their time and expertise pro bono throughout the year.