With Eyes on the Community

The Interdisciplinary Clinical Center (ICC) initiates and develops unique, innovative models based on the identification of essential needs in the population and explores ways to empower the various communities. Following elucidation of needs, the teams develop, initiate and conduct therapy, workshops and multidisciplinary interventions in the community and on Haifa University campus. The projects, with Prof. RIvka Yahav at their head, won two prestigious prizes: the Recanati-Kop-Chais-Rashi Award for the enterprising social worker (2009) and the Prime Minister’s Prize for Initiative and Innovation (2012).

Below are examples of projects conducted in the community by the ICC:

Population – Intervention projects have been implemented that focus on the first years of life and child development from ages 0-6 years with follow-up for the children and their parents from pregnancy and throughout childhood and adolescence. The projects address issues at individual, group and community levels for the children, their parents and relevant community educational and social service agencies. Early identification of children with emotional or behavioral problems within their own natural environments permits early therapeutic intervention that can prevent future problems and the impact these would have had on the individuals concerned and the communities in which they live.

Interventions During the First Year of Life

The Emotional World of the Fetus – A model for intervention focused on parents during pregnancy has been developed. The ICC conducts parenting groups, with a concentration on emotional processes, worries, fantasies and expectations that accompany parents waiting for the birth of their child. Future parents learn how to cope with stressful life events so that these have less impact on the fetus, how to organize the family circle in anticipation of the new arrival, and ambivalence that may arise regarding the impending changes to the family structure. Issues that will arise when combining parenthood and career are addressed.

The First Years of Life – A model was designed for intervention with parents and their infants, from birth throughout the first two years of life aiming to help parents cope with the significant changes brought on by the passage into parenthood.

Initiative for Early Identification of Developmental Problems in Children – Identification of difficulties and intervention at the early stage of development can influence the way in which children cope in the future with developmental tasks. These tasks include adaptation to various contexts within which they interact with their environment, friendship, verbal communication, sensory and emotional modulation, spatial orientation, oral and written language, reading, arithmetic, and more. Early treatments when problems arise in language, sensori-motor skills, and behavioural and emotional issues contribute to healthy development and functioning and promote positive self-esteem. Some communities are not aware of salient developmental issues requiring attention and are not always able to take advantage of the appropriate services available for identification and treatment. In addition, there are long waiting lists at public developmental clinics and therefore interventions that can be provided in the child’s own framework, at home and in the day care setting, are very important.

This initiative provides a multidisciplinary solution for prevention and is carried out in three stages: the first stage is directed at parents during the pregnancy; the second stage is for parents and their infants; and the third stage, for which the prize was awarded, is the interdisciplinary project for ongoing follow-up of child development for children 3-6 years of age.

The interdisciplinary project includes identification of problems requiring attention, treatment, and consultation with a psychologist/social worker, speech

therapist and occupational therapist, all taking place in the child’s natural environment. The intervention involves working in conjunction with the day care staff; the ICC developmental consultants base their recommendations upon observation of day care activities with the children and make note of emotional, behavioural and developmental issues that find expression in attention and concentration capabilities, emotion modulation, temperament, discipline, frustration, self-control, self-identity, curiosity and interest, level of activity and hyperactivity, intellectual functioning and understanding, arithmetic and counting skills, oral and visual memory, ability to comply with rules and norms, communication style, internalized patterns, separation issues and ability to form relationships, moods, aggressiveness and competitiveness, dependence and independence, ability to cope with anticipation and disappointment.

In the area of communication and sensori-motor and language skills, practical demonstrations are given by the ICC team who work with the entire day-care class as well as in small groups, directing a combination of activities within the running day-care schedule, such as story-telling activities on topics such as going for a hike or preparing a meal together. Books and equipment available in the day care are used in these activities.

In addition, we conduct lectures for parents, individual consultation and parent-child workshops. Children with complex difficulties needing in-depth assessment and treatment may be referred to the health care system.

Beginning in 2005, the project has been operating successfully in a number of high-risk neighbourhoods as well as in neighbourhoods with higher socioeconomic status in Haifa. An interdisciplinary team (speech therapist, occupational therapist and psychologist) from the ICC carries out the program which serves as a model promoting increased awareness of early treatment for children at risk. The program and its head, Prof Rivka Yahav, won two prestigious awards: the Recanati-Kop-Chais-Rashi Award for the enterprising social worker (2009) and the Prime Minister’s Prize for Initiative and Innovation (2012). The program has aroused interest among education and social services professionals around the country who express their appreciation for the benefits it provides to members of the community. It has been adopted by Haifa Municipality and other cities in Israel and abroad and, since 2010, the ICC has served as a national and international center for supervision for the development of such interdisciplinary teams elsewhere.

Interventions in Educational Frameworks (Schools) with an Emphasis on Parent-Child-Teacher Relations. Professional Team Accompaniment

Collaboration with Non-government organizations and Community Centers

Research – The ICC serves as a center for consultation and research in the community and for academic faculty

Emergency Interventions – With the support of targeted donations raised by the ICC in Israel and abroad, we are able to provide assistance during emergency events whether local or national, such as the Second Lebanese War, the Carmel fire, and the Corona pandemic.
Emotional Support Following the Corona Pandemic of 2020

Hotline – Interdisciplinary Clinical Center, Haifa University

At this moment, while the news and social media are arousing worry concerning the Coronavirus, it is important to remain calm and to carefully follow the guidelines set out by the Health Ministry. All citizens are exposed to rumors that can increase uncertainty and anxiety. Allowing individuals, family members and others in our environment to express their concerns and anxieties helps prevent a negative impact of these anxieties on daily routines and maintain our ability to function calmly and responsibly. In addition to following the official medical guidelines, therefore, it is important to hold conversations within our families and social circles in order to promote the sense of security we all need. In addition, we need to keep communication lines open with family members or acquaintances who may be in isolation due to the possibility that they were exposed to the virus.

The Interdisciplinary Clinical Center at Haifa University can help cope with worries and anxieties if you find yourself or a family member perturbed by the fears engendered by the virus infection rate, overwhelmed regarding the guidelines published in the media, or in case one of your family members or acquaintances are in isolation or fell ill.

Our well-trained and professional team can help support you as you attempt to cope emotionally with the complex situation in which we find ourselves.

The service is offered free of charge.

Emotional Support for Coping with the Haifa Fire Crisis

Hotline – the Interdisciplinary Clinical Center, University of Haifa.

Emotional Support during the Second War in Lebanon

A Trauma Treatment Project for Haifa’s children following the Second Lebanese War with the support of the Haifa-Boston Partnership and in collaboration with Haifa municipal Department of Education.

The intervention included focused treatments and work with 70 children and their parents. Each client was offered a treatment plan of 15 sessions with the child, a parental guidance session and two supervision sessions for the professional team. In all, 21 hours were provided to each client. Treatment was provided by a social worker or psychologist from the Emotional Treatment Institute.

Emotional therapy for Haifa’s Ethiopian children and adolescents following the Second Lebanese War in collaboration with the Haifa-Boston Partnership

Clinical interventions were designed with the purpose of treating children within the Ethiopian community who suffered from anxiety following the Second Lebanese War.

These children have had difficult backgrounds and are described as having adjustment problems and learning, social and emotional difficulties. A large number of them have experienced abandonment and losses. Most of them live today in single-parent families or families with dysfunctional parental functioning.

The project was designed from a culturally sensitive approach by which therapy is adapted to the particular needs of the target population. Its success is attributed to the cooperation of the Interdisciplinary Clinical Center, the Haifa-Boston Partnership, Shiluvim (a community program), and the municipal social services department. The collaboration led to the development of unconventional treatments at a number of levels, mediators, educational and clinical teams, parents and children). In addition, being flexible enough to bring the appropriate equipment to the neighbourhood and the community center and work there instead of clinics unattached to their environment helped overcome the natural suspiciousness of community, their doubts and difficulties and improve the emotional welfare of the children who received treatment in the framework of this unique project.

This ecological systemic model of treatment can be applied among other conservative populations during peace time and at times of war.

Operating a hotline – psychological advice for residents of Haifa and northern Israel who found themselves in emotional distress following the war

During the Second Lebanese War, the Interdisciplinary Clinical Center operated a hotline 24 hours a day for the benefit of residents of Haifa and northern Israel who found themselves experiencing emotional distress following the war. The hotline was operated by volunteer social workers and psychologists. The humanitarian and professional response contributed greatly in helping children and adults cope with stressful and traumatizing situations the following difficult circumstances of the war.

Clinical Interventions with Special Needs Populations, with Ashalim

This series of workshops dealt with post trauma and targeted parents of children enrolled in the Bronco-Weiss High School in Merom HaGalil, northern Israel. The school population are children with learning disabilities and physical handicaps who are unable to adjust to regular high school frameworks. The families live in communities in close proximity to the northern border, such as Shlomi, Avivim and Shtula, which were subject to intense missile attacks during wars against Lebanon.

The workshops set out to improve coping for both the adolescents who remained in their communities throughout the wars and those who left temporarily for quieter areas in the south. Among the topics covered: identity and coping with anxieties aroused after the war, symptoms related to stress (physical, emotional, social and cognitive), coping with uncertainty regarding the future and the need to return to normal routines. The workshops were adapted to adolescents with special developmental and social needs. The psychosocial therapy plan was conducted by social workers and psychologists from