In the last decade James Gordon, MD, has helped train thousands of healthcare providers from around the world to tend to the psychological damage of war and conflict. He’s trained healthcare practiciones in Kosovo, Israel, and Palestine.
In December Gordon, who directs The Center for Mind-Body Medicine and serves as Dean of Saybrook’s Graduate College of Mind-Body Medicine, led an international delegation with representatives from all of those places to Haiti.
Together they are laying the foundation for Haiti’s first-ever nationwide program of primary mental healthcare.
On December 6, Gordon and his colleagues began training leaders from every major health and mental health organization in Haiti, including the Ministry of Health, the Medical and Nursing Schools, the General Hospital, Partners in Health, and Project Hope, as well as leaders of the Catholic, Protestant, and Voudoun communities and the Haitian National Police. They were put through intensive training in The Center for Mind-Body Medicine’s program in stress and trauma management that includes self-expression, drawing, movement, and small group support.
In postwar Kosovo, the CMBM model’s effects were documented in the first ever randomized controlled trial of any intervention with war traumatized children, published in the prestigious Journal of Clinical Psychiatry in 2008. High school teachers there (supervised by local psychologists and psychiatrists), helped students achieve an 80% reduction in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. At a three month follow-up, these gains were largely maintained. Studies of children and adults in Gaza have demonstrated similar results at the seven month follow-up.
This is same evidence based approach is at the heart of Saybrook’s Mind-Body Medicine program, and students receive these skills as part of their coursework.