Founded in 1989 by Dutch-born psychologist Dr. Danny Brom, METIV: Herzog Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma is a world-renowned innovator in the research and treatment of the wide-ranging effects of trauma. Israel’s painful history has made its people, especially its children, particularly vulnerable to the multiple dimensions of psychological trauma. METIV therefore focuses on a wide spectrum of trauma, ranging from terrorist attacks to bereavement to violence of all kinds, including partner violence. As an affiliate of Jerusalem’s Herzog Hospital Latner Institute, METIV draws on a history of 115 years, from the days when the historic hospital supported women suffering from peripartum depression and the veterans of two world wars.
Despite the cycles of violence in Israeli history, the common response from fellow mental health professionals when Dr. Brom began working in Israel was “but we don’t see trauma here.” Thanks in part to the work of METIV, there is a burgeoning awareness in Israel of the communal and personal effect of trauma. Since becoming an independent organization in 1999—though still under the aegis of Herzog Hospital—METIV has provided psychotherapy to those suffering from post-traumatic symptoms, and has since trained hundreds of mental-health professionals in trauma treatment methods informed by the latest clinical and research findings.
Fully aware that the advantages of an emotionally resilient society have an enormous impact on how its members cope with trauma, when the second intifada broke out in 2001, METIV established the Israel Trauma Coalition, which is now an independent organization. With METIV at the lead, and with seed funding from the UJA-Federation of New York, seven trauma service providers joined the coalition.
METIV Director Danny Brom, Hillary Clinton, and former Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski at an event honoring first responders during the Second Intifada.
METIV has set up early childhood intervention programs, school programs, and trauma services. Included among them was the National School Resilience Project, in coordination with the Israel Ministry of Education. Through this project, METIV provided resilience-building training for over 5,000 educators and has developed a protocol, screening tools, and treatment programs for nearly 50,000 children. In an evaluation we conducted with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta in 2011-2012 to examine the effectiveness of this joint intervention we found that working with educators successfully reduces post-traumatic distress in their students.
Since Turkey’s disastrous earthquake in 1999, METIV has also developed a reputation for responding to both natural and man-made disasters worldwide, training first responders and mental health professionals in Haiti, Chechnya, Mississippi, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and post-9/11 New York City. Past collaborative partners have included mental health professionals at the Center for Development in Primary Health Care at Al-Quds University to create the CHERISH program for school-based mental health models, bereaved parents, pediatricians, and youth leaders in Israel and, in parallel, across the West Bank and Gaza; as well as research investigations with professors Claude Chemtob at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital and George Bonnano at Teachers College, Columbia University.
In Israel, METIV is regarded as the first address for trauma-related services, both in the form of individual counseling and group interventions after crises, in addition to therapeutic programming. We have worked with every governmental ministry, including the Ministry of Defense on our Peace of Mind Program, as well as non-profit organizations, educational institutions, and private companies. We have done extensive work with Israel’s network of first responders: Magen David Adom, the Israel Police and the National Fire and Rescue Authority.
We are also active on the grassroots level. From working with the Bedouins in the Negev desert to the Jewish residents of Sderot, on the Gaza border, to Ethiopian Jews across Israel, our mandate is not just developing and implementing new mental health programs for communities in need, but combining assessment with research to constantly refine our programs. Additionally, we are research leaders, regularly publishing not just peer-reviewed scholarly articles, but also journalistic articles and books for both academic and lay audiences.
Though we hope our services will one day become unnecessary, as long as there is trauma in Israel, we will be here working to anticipate, treat, and educate about its lasting effects.