Affiliated member of the WPA – World Psychiatric Association

Panel Peace Facilitating Processes and the Overcoming of Socio-political Splittings


Peace Facilitating Processes and the Overcoming of Socio-political Splittings

Chair: von Bülow, Gabriele; Gerson, Janet


Sonnenschein, Nava; Salaime, Samah
The School for Peace at Wahat al-Salam – Neve Shalom, The Working Method between Professional Groups from Conflict Zones

The School for Peace methodology working with change agents training program at the Palestinian  Israeli context. Mental health professional experience working with groups at the shadow of the unsolved conflict.

Dr. Nava Sonnenschein is one of the founding members of Wahat al-Salam Neve Shalom. In1979 she established the School for Peace (SFP) which she is currently directing. The SFP was the first educational institution in Israel promoting broad scale change towards peace and more human, egalitarian and just relations between Palestinians and Jews. The School for Peace works with Jewish and Palestinian youth and adults, including amongst others students, professionals and members of NGOs. Through workshops, training and special projects, the SFP develops participants’ awareness of the conflict and their role in it, enabling them to take responsibility to change the present relations between Jews and Palestinians. Nava has trained hundreds of Palestinian and Jewish facilitators to facilitate groups in conflict in the region and throughout the world. She teaches ‘The Jewish Arab Conflict, in the Mirror of Theory and Practice’ at universities in Israel. She successfully developed Change Agents courses for Israeli & Palestinian professionals from a range of different fields including up and coming politicians, lawyers, mental health professionals, and urban planners. Nava has a BA in Fine Art and Education, an MA in family, marriage and child counseling from San Francisco State University and a PhD from The Hebrew University. She is a recipient of the “Women of Courage Award” from the U.S. Department of State for her leadership, courage and tireless work in advocating for social change and coexistence.

Samah Salaime is a member of Wahat al-Salam Neve Shalom (WASNS), a social worker, community activist and feminist. She is the founder of AWC, Arab Women in the Center, an NGO which seeks to promote the status of women in the cities of Ramla, Lod and Jaffa and to combat gender-based violence against women, particularly in Arab society. In 2017 and 2018 Samah was chosen by the Israeli National Newspaper, “Yediot Achronot” as one of the 10 most influential social activists in Israel. Samah was awarded her B.A. and Master’s Degrees in Social Work from The Hebrew University. She is a graduate of the Mandel School for Educational Leadership. She is an accomplished journalist with articles published in Hebrew, Arabic and English. She is a regular contributor to +972 Magazine. Samah is very active within WASNS and is a leading voice in Israel’s Arab community. She has served as WASNS Director of the Educational Institutions and Director of WASNS Communication and Development Department for the past two years. Most recently she organized an Arab Jewish demonstration against gender based violence in Tel Aviv, which was attended by 30,000 people. This year Samah became the first Arab female to be elected to the local regional council and to the Board of Governors of the Hebrew University.


Gil, Tsvi E.; El Haja, Enaam Abu; Bar-El, Juan
Group Dynamics of Arabs and Jews Working together in a Therapeutic Space

A therapeutic group conducted in a community mental health clinic reflected several facets of the Arabic-Jewish encounter.  Participants of the group were Arabs and Jews.  The group leaders were an Arab social worker and a Jewish psychologist.  The clinic had both Arab and Jews mental health workers.  This cohabitation was found to be characterized by some common qualities and assumptions, which will presented and discussed.

In general, most participants shared good neighbouring. We interpret this benevolent reality by means of denial, namely, that both sides tend to disregard conflicts and tensions, for the sake of the common task of working together toward therapeutic goals.  In Lawrence, Bain & Gould (1996) terms this is the fifth assumption of group dynamics called Me-ness, which can be recapitulated as “the individual succeeds in integrating in the larger group, which is potentially conflictual for him, by means of being assimilated with the group’s more general values”.

The lecture will discuss the convoluted encounter between Arabs and Jews who live in Israel, the experience of being a minority surrounded by the other group members, as reflected in the clinic daily life, both with staff and patients, in terms of group dynamics.

Acre Community mental Health Clinic, Mazor Psychiatric Center, Israel


Duchonova, Katerina
Totalitarian Systems, Recycling of Victimhood and Possibility of Recovery

Totalitarian system allows the extinction of internal conflict, the self of the follower becomes mechanical and if he happens to experience conflict, it will always be within the field proposed and delimited by the ideology. Sane narcissistic qualities are replaced by the degraded self concept. Later, with this totalitarian part still introjected in their minds and behaviour, they tended to reproduce it again, even in free society. Totalitarianism tends to reproduce itself. Simultaneously the guilt feeling created  in order to save the protective idea of meaningful life may be recycled. In many victims of totalitarian systems we can find alongside stress related disorders transformation developed through becoming aware of the subconscious contents  manifests as post-traumatic growth : a lifelong orientation towards seeking and finding meaning, towards the helping professions and towards various humanitarian activities. However there are psychological dangers as well, some of the keen helpers may actually be controlled by the identification with the agressor, other helpers are motivated by the guilt and some create new ideologies.

Department of Psychiatry,  Military University hospital Prague, Czech republic


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