Lina Hasan is an associate psychotherapist/trainer at CVT Jordan.
Sometimes I think there is magic in our work. When clients arrive at CVT, many have suicidal thoughts, symptoms of depression and many other symptoms, even poor hygiene in cases. They have survived disasters and yet somehow found their way to CVT. A few will even say, “Why am I here? The UN sent me, but I don’t want to go anywhere.” This is when we start a journey. This is when change begins to happen for survivors.
I earned my Master’s degree in counseling in 2011 and began working at CVT in 2014. I started as a counselor and have moved up over the years into my current role doing supervision and training. In a way, I feel I grew up with CVT. I had previously worked with the United Nations with Palestinian refugees, but the work there was different from CVT. Here we focus on survivors of torture. I had learned from my work with refugees that there are important aspects for healing, and many need specialized care. Because of the focus on those who have survived war atrocities and torture, I moved to CVT.
In my role as supervisor, I provide technical advice and mentoring to counselors. I support their counseling work in group sessions as well as in the individual therapy sessions they have with clients. I also coordinate training sessions with the physiotherapy and social work teams. We work closely together to develop effective training for the clinical teams, and part of my work is to support the planning and implementation of all these activities. At CVT, the counselors, physiotherapists and social workers are always looking for ways to serve clients best. We coordinate our efforts to make life better for clients.
And the clients see enormous changes. One woman told me when she first came to Jordan after escaping her homeland, she didn’t see how she would fit in. But CVT helped her through the counseling process and she became more positive about her life and her future. At first, she said she could not even look in the mirror, but after the counseling she felt strong. She said, “I can’t turn away from the past, but CVT has brought me into a new life.”
I remember her words often. Every night when I go home I feel exhausted, and her comment helps me feel motivated. Our work is not easy. We hear about all the events that have impacted clients’ lives. As counselors, we work with them to process their memories, and this affects us, too. But then we see the improvements in clients’ lives. The way clients reflect their new-found positivity encourages us as counselors. When this client said to me, “I’m not like I was before – I can live my life,” I felt, yes, this truly is the job I want. She said that every person at CVT, from the receptionist when she first arrived, to all the staff on the team, was part of changing her life.
Another client told me that before coming to CVT he felt he had been living in fear, like a mouse trapped in his house for five years – he did not feel safe enough to leave home, and was afraid to walk in the street. He had survived attempts to kill him back in his home country, and now couldn’t stop feeling that someone was following him or planning to kill him. He said he started shaking, sweating and couldn’t breathe at the sight of police officers. He said when he came to CVT he felt like he had a very big weight on his shoulders. “It’s like I’m climbing a mountain,” he told me. He could not sleep more than one hour because he kept looking at his door.
He came in and we worked with him to rebuild trust and reconnection with himself, family and community. We showed him techniques we use to help clients recognize what is around them now, at this moment, not what they imagine might be happening. After counseling, he said he was able to go outside and walk anywhere. He said, “Now I have friends – I can talk now. I didn’t have that before CVT.”
To me, CVT itself is hope. What I witness as the clients improve and change through therapy is very motivating. In just the past year, 91 percent of clients saw lower PTSD symptoms and 89 percent had lower symptoms of depression. The clients motivate us to change their lives. All I learned from CVT has developed my own growth here, and I also have something to add to CVT. I appreciate that I am able to contribute to helping clients by counseling and also in my role with planning and support of the counseling team. Sharing my experience and support helps my colleagues and it helps our clients heal.
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.