The Open Line | Ariel Etehad’s Work @ NATAL Trauma Center
Ariel’s been busy.
While interning at NATAL – Israel’s Trauma Center for Victims of Terror and War, Ariel has been developing NATAL’s ongoing projects as well as the getting experience in the most advanced patient treatment practices.
“Being raised by two very Zionist parents, with a father who has served in the first Lebanon war, and growing up with stories about my fathers experiences in the battle field, there is little question as to why I personally fell in love with NATAL, its team, and the work they are doing. Before joining NATAL I had little knowledge about the many paths to treating PTSD and also educating others about it. NATAL opens the doors in this area and is in such a way an oasis of recovery with many different approaches to treatment. While interning at NATAL I am discovering the many ways to treating PTSD and the beauty of each one. Living in Israel with the reality that there are many victims of war and terror around the country, old and young it is inspiring to see that there is an organization that not only devotes it’s staff and volunteers to the recovery of its members but educates the country about the subject so that PTSD is no longer a taboo. As I continue my internship here at NATAL I hope to conduct more interviews and learn from the specialist and volunteers about the work they do and the approaches they take in helping the victims to the path of recovery. I have also started my own blog all about NATAL and the work they are doing, through this I hope to inspire and assist NATAL raise awareness in the study and treatment to PTSD and enable those suffering receive help. “
Check out the most recent submission from her blog, Ariel’s Natal Experience, below;
Picture waking up in the middle of the night by the sounds of gunshots or rockets being fired near you, the thought of not seeing your loved ones anymore, or living everyday in the middle of no where surrounded by blood loss and war. Would you want to leave the comfort and familiarity of your home, after being exposed to all this? This concept is very hard for many of us to grasp, the idea of leaving our homes to go out is something we do on autopilot and think nothing of. However, for those who are suffering from trauma this becomes one of the biggest challenges to taking the first steps to recovery.
Within NATAL there is a new kind of form of therapy that takes place, ” ha kav ha patuach” literally “the open line” is NATAL’s very own designed hotline center. NATAL’s hotline center is the only one of its kind in Israel, specially designed for victims of trauma of war and terror. The Hotline provides assistance to all ages of victims, in various languages. There is no limit to time or assistance, the hotline designs itself to the caller and their needs. The hotline was inspired by Judith Lewis Herman (Trauma and Recovery, 1983), a clinical psychologist who works with victims of violence. Judith explains that traumatic experiences affect the individuals sense of security, and causes them to lose themselves while also tearing families, friendships and community relationships apart. This allows us to better understand why so many trauma victims suffer from isolation.
The hotline serves as the first steps to those who have trouble stepping out of the comforts of their homes. It’s a direct connection to the help that the victims need; each call is answered and each caller is provided with the materials they need to recover. Natal provides this service by training each of their volunteers and allowing them to learn the steps they need to go through with each caller.
As I learned more about the hotline in NATAL a word kept reoccurring, ” unique”. I began to wonder why this specific hotline was so unique, there are many hotlines around the world what made this specific one so special? To understand why this hotline was so different from the rest we have to take a deeper look on how the hotline is designed. The hotline is made up of three stages, the first stage is all about gaining trust between the two ends of the line. There is no time frame on how long the first stage will take, creating trust and security takes more time for some victims. In order to create trust and security each caller has a fixed person answering their calls, this enables the caller creates a feeling of acceptance and warmth for the caller, a feeling that becomes the building blocks of trust and security. The volunteer also reveals themselves during the first call, by giving their name and the days and hours they are at NATAL. Therefore, as soon as there is a way to contact the caller and initiate the conversation, the victim feels that someone cares about him/ her. Because most victims lack the stability of a relationship and become very passive as time goes by it is important for the volunteer to activate and maintain the relationship.
The second stage, is where the volunteer helps the caller work on re-creating the story of the trauma. Because the traumatic experience is so difficult and incomprehensible it is very difficult to share it with others who were not present at the time. Often the victims remembers the story of the trauma as a jumble of details and not a continuous story. The victim’s memory of some details is blurry and there are many holes in his story. Retelling their story is especially difficult at this point because before the hotline the victim feels that their story is illogical and their experience did not actually occur in real life. It is the goal of the Hot Line is to help the victim construct a continuous, coherent story with a beginning, a middle and an end. This is the task of the volunteer, to help the caller organize his experience for himself to create some sort of clarity.
The third stage is about recreating the connection between the victim and their community. This is made easier because of the steady contact between the volunteer and caller has already renewed this connection. This is why it is so important for the volunteer, who represents the outside world, to take the initiative to contact the caller and gives him a feeling of belonging and caring. Since the connection with the volunteer is temporary another important aspect to this step is to help the caller work on his connection to his natural environment, this part of the step is crucial since the connection with the volunteer is temporary and it is necessary for other close people to continue accompanying him such as family, friends and neighbors, community center or clubs.
NATAL’s hotline is an important stepping stone to the path of a victims recovery. After learning about the three stages that are part of the hotline I truly understand why NATAL takes pride in their method and why it is truly one of its kind. The hotline opens the door to recovery for its callers and if needed leads them to other therapeutic paths of recovery that are also made possible by NATAL.