First training program in Applied Child Psychology launched in Palestine  

 PNN/ Bethlehem/
In a ceremony held today in Bethlehem, the Guidance and Training Center for the Child and Family (GTC) has launched the first training program in applied psychology, in collaboration with its partners in Glasgow Municipality and the National Health Services in Glasgow – Specialist Children’s Services, and Glasgow and Dundee Universities in Scotland.
The launch ceremony was attended by Lord Provost of Glasgow Councilor Eva Bolander, and deputy Mayor of Bethlehem in addition to representatives of the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Social Development. Also present were representatives of institutions working in the field of mental health and education.
For decades, the Palestinian society has suffered from Israeli occupation, depriving it of its most basic rights, such as freedom of movement, dignified living and sense of safety and security. The occupation practices against our people had greatly affected the health of all segments in the society, especially the mental health of children who make up 45.3% of the population, and who are the most vulnerable to psychological problems that negatively affect their behavior and educational, and, consequently, their future.
The GTC had developed the idea of this program, which is the result of the noticeable need for a comprehensive approach in dealing with children. The program integrates clinical and applied educational approaches to develop competencies of psychologists working with children in institutions, schools and other mental health centers in Palestine. The GTC has developed the program as the first training program of its kind based on scientific research. This was done in collaboration with Scottish institutions and universities after declaring Bethlehem and Glasgow as twin cities.
Dr. Nael Abdul Rahman, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the GTC, announced in his welcoming speech holding of a conference in November 2019, marking the 25th birth anniversary of the GTC. At this conference, scientific papers applied and used by GTC and its partners from Glasgow to develop the training program will be presented. In this regard Dr. Abdul Rahman  declared: “The program is part of the objectives of Guidance and Training Center for the Child and Family to contribute to the development of mental health and increase competencies of those working in this field in Palestine”.

For his part, Deputy Mayor of Bethlehem Municipality, Hanna Hanania welcomed the Mayor of Glasgow and the accompanying delegation and thanked them for their continued support to Bethlehem, stressing that the project is important and will contribute to the advancement of services for children in Palestine in particular and their families in general.

Hanania spoke about the Palestinian suffering of children and prisoners of war and the displacement and demolition of homes. He expressed his hope that the project will support the children’s innocence and help them improve their information.

 Director of Education, Sami Mruwwa spoke about the importance of psychological counseling for children and students, and talked about the history of the ministry since it was founded in 1994 adding that psychological counseling was not available in schools under Israeli occupation.

Mruwwa talked about the need for suffering in light of suffering of children in schools due to the occupation, mentionin as an example the students of the Taqwa School east of Bethlehem, where students pass through the Israeli checkpoints, since IOF insist on standing at the entrances to the village and the entrances of the school.

Director  of Medical Services, Dr. Osama Al-Najjar,  said that Palestinian children are exposed to various types of daily Israeli attacks that affect them psychologically, as he talked about the imprisonment of 450 children in the Israeli jails, pointing out that 47% of Palestinian children, according to local and international statistics, undergo oppression by the occupation that 99 percent of the psychological problems in children result  from occupation.

Meanwhile, the Mayor of Glasgow, Eva Bolander, said: “It is with a sense of friendship and a shared commitment to the twinning with Bethlehem and Palestine that we are able to continue to develop important projects such as this that benefit both our cities. “
Dr. Caesar Hakim, Clinical Director of GTC, and Professor Hamish McLeod of the University of Glasgow, presented the idea of the training program based on developing skills and abilities that integrate several disciplines in psychology, including child development, clinical and educational psychology, as well as research and critical thinking. Dr Caesar Hakim and colleagues from GTC have been working with a range of experts from Scotland to provide applied child psychologists with the additional academic knowledge and clinical skills they need to make a meaningful difference in the lives of young Palestinians.