Ala’a Younes is a psychosocial counselor at CVT Jordan.
As a counselor, one thing that touches my heart is seeing clients begin to have hope – helping survivors of torture see that their lives are still important.
I remember a client from Sudan who was having nightmares about her past experience of rape. Her symptoms were very high, but I could see at our initial conversation at her intake session that she was very strong and motivated to overcome her pain. She had faced many difficult situations, fled her country, found her way to Jordan and to seek a pathway for healing. In the first three or four sessions, I saw how hard she worked to get her life back and to restore a hope that she had lost.
Working with her has touched me very deeply. In life, we all face simple issues but she faced extreme challenges. By the time the sessions ended, she had improved a great deal, and she applied everything she learned in the sessions, which demonstrated her motivation to improve.
She told me that when she tried to apply everything, she could see changes and felt better. She could feel herself become happy and return back to her role as a mother and wife. Witnessing her change was very motivating for me as well.
Before I came to CVT I finished my studies and volunteered as a psychologist at a juvenile center. Then I worked at International Medical Corps (IMC) at Azraq camp as mental health case manager, working with Syrian refugees. Working with refugees as a therapist has developed my compassion to give all I can to see them healed. I feel joy in doing this work.
When the opportunity arose to join CVT, I wanted another stage in my career and a way to use my skills and explore the work further. In my role here, I do assessments and screenings of new clients, and then I do individual and group counseling. I also conduct workshop sessions – these are one-time group sessions that run for four hours in a day. We conduct these for clients who are survivors of war trauma and/or torture and who are able to function in their day-to-day lives but who could benefit from interventions such as increasing coping skills and psychoeducation.
When they arrive at CVT, many clients have lost hope in life, in themselves. They tell me they feel lost here in Jordan. I see the changes as they rebuild their lives. As an example, I worked with an Iraqi woman from her first screening intake all through her group counseling sessions. When I saw her for the first time, she was very hopeless. She saw no value in herself, no value in life. She was crying, even in the reception area before we met. She was very depressed, so much that it affected me too.
When she came to the first five group sessions, she kept saying she didn’t feel good and she didn’t like the sessions. She told me they were not useful for her. But she kept coming. She said “It’s not good for me, I can’t be improved.”
But after Session 6, she was totally changed. She began to speak and share her emotions. She tried to see life with another eye. This was amazing. She seemed like a different client. “I don’t know how I have changed,” she told me, adding, “I have to let problems go and not give them any more of my efforts.” At the follow-up visit, she smiled and spoke about life and her children and how her way of seeing the world negatively has changed.
I have a passion to help. Through this work I see that many people don’t have opportunities in life for a lot of reasons, but God gave me an opportunity not just for me but for others. When clients thank me and tell me that I’ve changed them, I think to myself that the truth is that when clients heal, I as a therapist am healed too.
Funding for CVT’s work in Jordan is provided by the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration and the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture.