Dr. Mohamad Bny Salameh is a psychotherapist/trainer at CVT Jordan.
At CVT, I have seen that when a client begins healing, it helps the whole family. I remember an Iraqi man who came to us at CVT; he had a very complicated situation and was experiencing many challenges here in Jordan. I remember discussing this case with my supervisor as the man’s condition was so challenging at that time, and based on the psychological, physical and financial difficulties of his situation, I doubted inside myself whether I could help him or not! I asked myself how he could benefit from our services with this very challenging situation. My supervisor and I agreed that we needed to try to help him. The client received mental health and physiotherapy group sessions, which included 10 sessions for each discipline, in addition to social services. After he completed the therapy, he received a message that he would be resettled to another country. Before leaving Jordan, he brought his whole family to CVT to say good bye. This man was grateful because he had improved so much both physically and psychologically. He wanted to thank CVT and thank me in front of his family. I learned an important lesson that despite the complex situation or complex trauma that clients have faced, we can help them if we believe in our capacities and in our mission.
This was very meaningful to me and it showed me how much our service means to clients. It helped me see how we can invest our abilities and skills in this place.
I hold a Master’s degree in Family Counseling, and I earned my Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology. I worked with several organizations providing care for refugees before coming to CVT, including implementing counseling in the Syrian refugee camps here in Jordan. Since my childhood, I have had a passion to help people and that is the reason I study counseling. Since the refugees started coming to Jordan, I chose to work in this field especially in the camps. I noticed how much more help and support they need. Through my work in non-governmental organizations (NGOs), I realized that the clients need more psychoeducation sessions about the impact of trauma. These psychoeducation sessions might increase their level of awareness and understanding of the impact of trauma on them and thus be able to identify their needs and acquire new skills to deal with psychological and physical challenges caused by trauma and war events. When I learned about the message and mission of CVT, I wanted to work here.
As a psychotherapist/trainer, I provide clinical supervision to the staff, advising them on how to proceed and support traumatized clients, but also on how to take care of themselves. At CVT, we provide staff care services because the work with clients can be difficult and demanding. I feel that my main task is to support the staff so that they can best support the clients.
I have seen from our work that if we support clients to support themselves and their families, they will make improvements. We see the results during our three-month and six-month follow-up assessment sessions. We see the enhancements and improvements, and our research shows us that 91 percent of clients reduced their symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, and 89 percent reduced symptoms of depression last year. This is very important for me, but I know that if staff are not taking care of themselves, we cannot achieve these results.
A key part of my role as a psychotherapist/trainer is to provide ongoing individual and group supervision to the psychosocial counselors. Before I moved into this psychotherapist/trainer role, I provided group and individual sessions for four years, so I know how difficult it is to protect your own psychological life when you listen to the clients’ stories. There are many things that are very difficult to hear. But if we can support the staff so that they are able to bring their best work to clients every day, the healing each client feels will also have positive effects on the family. For example, a wife of one of our clients came to CVT when her husband was receiving his six-month follow-up assessment session. The wife registered to receive our services also and she shared with me that she could not find the words to thank CVT for supporting her husband as he came for clinical services at CVT. There had been problems in the family as a result of trauma, and learning how her husband was beginning to think differently about his own trauma, she too became aware of how trauma affected her. She told me she felt better with her husband and children; she felt more confident and strong. She realized she had the most success in coping with her life when she perceived that the trauma is a part of her life instead of perceiving the trauma as her whole life.
I know that CVT staff need support in order to achieve results like these. I support the staff to keep their self-care active – to keep it going always, not just when they feel overwhelmed. As a team, we try to make self-care a topic each week and I encourage people to do self-care outside CVT, sometimes doing activities together as staff, meeting for meals or outings. We talk about ways to keep calm and avoid feeling anxious, for example about things like perfectionism. This is an area where staff can think about how they feel about their own work. They can decrease their own anxiety and try not to blame themselves when they feel they are not succeeding with clients or their work in general.
I have lot of experience with a lot of organizations, and I can see the difference at CVT, the way we are specialized in our mission and work to help refugee torture and war survivors. I notice a big difference with our clients, and many of them ask why we don’t have centers in all the cities in Jordan. Many of the clients came to CVT because they heard about CVT services from their friends, relatives and neighbors, and they heard about the useful benefits of the services they received at CVT. My dream and hope is that one day we can open more centers in Jordan.
I know this would benefit so many more who are suffering – I know we can handle this in the future.
Funding for CVT’s work in Jordan is funded by the United States Government and the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture.