Study in Gaza Shows Promise of a New Future for War-Traumatized Adults

Mind-body skills transform mental healthcare for a population affected by extreme violence

WASHINGTON D.C., August 17, 2016 — A new study of The Center for Mind-Body Medicine’s (CMBM) program for treating psychological trauma reveals a greater than 80% decrease in PTSD symptoms of adults in Gaza, the Palestinian territory devastated by war and conflict. The study, the first of any therapeutic intervention with war traumatized adults in Gaza, was published this week in the American Psychological Association journal, Traumatology. It also demonstrates that those who participated in mind-body skills groups (MBSGs) over a ten-week period had significant improvements in depression, anxiety and overall quality of life improvements, which were maintained at a 10-months follow-up.

The CMBM approach to treating population-wide trauma integrates mind-body therapies such as meditation, guided imagery, biofeedback, and yoga, as well as self-expression in words, drawings, and movement and is grounded in self-care and small, supportive groups. The CMBM Model has proven successful in treating hundreds of thousands of children and adults in Kosovo, Israel, Haiti, and the US, as well as in Gaza, and has repeatedly demonstrated its effectiveness in reducing PTSD symptoms. A randomized control trial (RCT) in Kosovo (Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 2008 Sep; 69 (9):1469-76) also demonstrated an 80% decrease in PTSD symptoms and was the first ever RCT of any intervention with war-traumatized children.

The CMBM model has also been applied in addressing trauma among first responders, clinicians, and community leaders after 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and the Sandy Hook school shootings. A Department of Defense funded study of the CMBM model used with war-traumatized US Veterans is now being readied for publication.

CMBM’s work in the Middle East, the Balkans, and with US veterans has been featured in The New York Times and The Washington Post; its program for war-traumatized children in Israel and Gaza was highlighted on CBS 60 Minutes.

Currently, CMBM is in discussion with US state and municipal authorities about bringing its model to cities affected by the recent shootings of police and community members. When asked about the success of the model in Gaza and its potential for traumatized US communities and their police forces, CMBM’s Founder and Executive Director, James S. Gordon, MD had this to say:

Our model is particularly effective for whole populations which have been traumatized. First responders, like veterans and indeed most of us, appreciate the positive emphasis on learning skills and the supportive small groups in which they learn them. The techniques and the approach are practical, interesting, non-stigmatizing, and sometimes even fun– and they work.

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The Center for Mind-Body Medicine is an international non-profit organization with 25 years’ experience in treating population-wide trauma in the United States and globally. The Center train local clinicians, educators, first responders, and community leaders who in turn teach others. This ensures that its programs are scalable and sustainable.

James S. Gordon, MD, the Founder and Executive Director of CMBM, is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Family Medicine at Georgetown Medical School, and chaired the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy under Presidents Clinton and G.W. Bush.

Media Contact: Bradley Lyon / [email protected] / Tel: 202.779. 8864 x246 / Cel: 203.815.3525 / CMBM News History