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(Photo Credit: TAU)

Tel Aviv University Urgently Launches a National PTSD Clinic for Civilians and Soldiers

25 December 2023 |

Responding to the massive incidence of PTSD following the war.

Tel Aviv University is launching a National PTSD Clinic in response to urgent needs. The Clinic serves as the therapeutic arm of TAU’s National Center for Traumatic Stress and Resilience, which combines research, training, and intervention in the field of post-trauma and related mental health disorders. In the coming year, the Clinic is expected to treat large numbers of civilians and reserve soldiers suffering from PTSD as a result of the war or other causes. The Clinic will receive patients referred by the Ministry of Defense and the National Insurance Institute, as well as private citizens seeking treatment. Therapists are top PTSD clinicians, whose cumulative experience adds up to hundreds of years.

 

Officials at TAU stress that the construction of the Miriam and Moshe Shuster Building for the Center for Traumatic Stress and Resilience, including a Treatment Clinic, cutting-edge laboratories and the Sam and Agi Moss Wing, commenced a year ago, with the intention of opening it in 2025. However, due to the war, TAU decided to make the necessary adaptations and open the Clinic immediately in specially allocated temporary premises. The goal is to enable an immediate therapeutic response to as many patients as possible, thereby bolstering Israel’s depleted mental health system which, even before the war, was unable to meet the population’s real needs. Civilians privately seeking therapy will pay a nominal fee. The generosity of many donors in Israel and worldwide, with special thanks to Peter and Elaine Smaller, has enabled the Clinic’s establishment.

 

Prof. Yair Bar-Haim, Head of the Center: “Cautious estimates speak of 30,000 new cases of PTSD and related pathologies resulting from the war. We have harnessed TAU’s academic and therapeutic resources to provide an immediate response to as many sufferers as possible.”

 

In the first stage, the Clinic will provide treatments with proven efficacy for adults. Reserve soldiers referred by the Rehabilitation Department of the Ministry of Defense will also be treated. Later on, as the program for adults is consolidated, additional programs for children, teens, and families will be offered as well. The Clinic will be led by Dr. Ofir Levi, formerly Commander of the IDF’s Unit for PTSD, and currently teaching at TAU’s Bob Shapell School of Social Work. The National Center for Traumatic Stress and Resilience is headed by Prof. Yair Bar Haim of TAU’s School of Psychological Sciences.

 

TAU President Prof. Ariel Porat: “Until Oct. 6th, our plan was to open the Clinic of our National Center for Traumatic Stress and Resilience about two years from now. However, the events of Oct. 7 convinced us that the Clinic must be launched as soon as possible. Unfortunately, PTSD has become a nationwide affliction in Israel, and we as a university are aware of the needs of Israeli society, especially now, at one of the most difficult times we have known as a country and as a people. We intend to bring relief and new hope to thousands of soldiers and civilians emotionally impacted by the massacre and the war. I am certain that the Clinic will expand its activities in the coming years and make an important contribution to the State of Israel – thanks in great part to our bighearted and committed donors, and especially Peter and Elaine Smaller.

 

Prof. Yair Bar-Haim, Head of the Center: “Right after Oct. 7, when information about the extent of the trauma began to accumulate, we realized there would be large numbers of PTSD sufferers who require long-term professional treatment. Estimates speak of 30,000 new cases of PTSD and related pathologies resulting from the current war. So, we decided to undertake this national mission, harnessing TAU’s academic resources and vast professional knowledge on treating PTSD to provide reliable treatment for large numbers of people. Israel’s best PTSD therapists responded to our call and joined the Clinic’s permanent staff. The Clinic is expected to be the leading facility of its kind in Israel, focusing on the treatment of emotional trauma and related morbidity. The therapeutic team will support sufferers from initial diagnosis to the successful completion of treatments offered at the Clinic.”

 

Dr. Ofir Levi, Head of the Clinic: “I served in the IDF for 25 years, including almost a decade as Commander of the Unit for PTSD – during and after the Second Lebanon War and the ensuing operations Cast Lead, Pillar of Defense, and Protective Edge. Based on my experience, I know that a great professional challenge awaits us at the new Clinic. Our mission is founded upon our will and ability to provide the best and most effective care to those who seek our help. To this end we have recruited therapists specializing in PTSD with many years of experience in treating various kinds of trauma and implementing diverse methods of therapy. Together with senior clinicians from TAU’s Schools of Psychological Sciences and Social Work, we have formulated a treatment policy adapted to the various stages of trauma, to enable a response to different populations.”

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