Areej Ibrahim is a physiotherapist at CVT Jordan.
“I would have never imagined that one day my eight year-old daughter would be able to calm me down,” a mother told me in one of CVT’s caregiver’s sessions. One of the most unique things about CVT is our group work with children who have survived war. As a physiotherapist, it’s been very meaningful to see both the physical progress children make but also to see how this works with psychological care. These children’s physical problems are largely caused by the traumatic experiences they’ve been through – with integrated care, I see them move from feeling there is no meaning in life and deep hopelessness, to becoming very helpful and hopeful people. When you see this with a child, it makes an impact.
We hear a lot of positive feedback on how the children’s groups are beneficial for them, their caregivers and their families. The caregivers have shared with us how their children now have lower physical and psychological symptoms, less attachment to their parents, more independence and confidence, better results at school, and how the relationship and the environment for the whole family was changed. These clients have shared many, many positive results!
I remember one of the caregivers showed a lot of resistance at the beginning of therapy. He didn’t think that we could help his son and was resistant even to practice the exercises we shared with them. He said, “At the beginning I was hesitant and didn’t think you could help me or my son, but after attending a few sessions I thought to myself: those are experienced, well-educated therapists. I can try what they are sharing and see if it helps or not. I allowed myself to practice what you have said, and ever since that decision, my life, my son’s, and my family’s have changed a lot to the better.”
He also added, “It’s like I was living in my own world, and my son was living in his own world – each one of us living in a separate planet. When I started practicing those activities and attending the sessions it’s like I moved from my world to my son’s world; both of us are now living on the same planet. This has helped improve my relationship with my son and also with my family a lot.” He appreciated the facilitators and thanked CVT for changing his life.
I first joined CVT as a junior physiotherapist after I graduated from the University of Jordan. I found that CVT’s approach in physiotherapy was different from the special clinics. The approach here is holistic; we focus on the ways the mind and body work together as opposed to working separately. I was very excited for this new experience.
In the beginning, I thought that I would work like any other job from 9 to 5, I will gain experience in physical therapy, get to know new people, and get paid at the end of the month. But I was wrong. My personality hugely developed. I now have a deeper sense of purpose and meaning. I can feel how we restore the sense of humanity in clients, how we change the life of the whole family by healing one of its members. Through our specialized services, CVT developed my skills through the different trainings and continuous orientation.
When I told my family and relative that I work with the Center for Victims of Torture they were surprised and wore different facial expressions. But when I explained to them what we are doing to heal the wounds of torture, they got to tip their hats to us. They appreciate our work a lot.
In my opinion, one of the most successful services CVT provides to beneficiaries is family sessions. I believe that the traumatic events affect the normal dynamic between the parents and children, so our team provides interdisciplinary sessions, with physical therapy, psychosocial counseling and social work. Each service is delivered to each member of the family (father, mother and children). In addition to that, we have provided some joint sessions with physiotherapy and psychosocial counseling to ensure clients understand how the minds and bodies are very connected. I can see how much the family dynamic totally changes after the treatment. Family members are able to express their opinions without shouting; they have more social interaction, more ability to control their reactions rather than beating or crying, and they adopt healthy coping skills like walking, applying our exercises and even painting . We agreed with the family to make special time for practicing our exercises – with this step we encourage communication between them and keep the attention on the present moment instead of dwelling on their past.
At the end, CVT gives me the chance to discover my own inner self. When I meet difficult cases, I can discover how I’m resilient, strong, and how I can help others to stand up again. I will continue my learning journey with CVT, progress more and more, keep smiling and discover myself more and more.
Really, I love CVT.
Funding for CVT’s work in Jordan is provided by the United States Government and the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture.