Many of the families who come to CRP are dealing with trauma that risks seriously affecting their interpersonal relationships. The majority initially came to Jordan as refugees and often struggle to cope with the practical and emotional challenges of displacement. At CRP, we strive to provide programming which addresses participants’ psychological distress, as our community members continually tell us that having a safe space to gather and get psychological support is top on their list of priorities.
To this end, CRP’s whole family counseling program was set up in late 2021 to help families work toward improving their mental health together–and to prevent their individual distress from negatively affecting their interpersonal and familial relationships. We started by training 4 facilitators and 2 assistants from our community, who met weekly with families and served a total of 72 families. A big part of their sessions together taught the families techniques and skills to foster dialogue and communication among themselves:
“In short, what we do is rehabilitate families. We teach them communication skills, how to interact with one another, listen to one another, and express their feelings” (Salwa, program facilitator)
Along with a focus on dialogue, the sessions also help each individual participant to build self esteem and to recognize their own value.
As program facilitator Hiba recalls, for the majority of the families participating the program, the first days were often emotionally and psychologically challenging. Some participants were so distressed that attempting to speak would cause them to burst into tears. However, the more they attended our sessions, the more they felt like they finally had a safe space to open up and share their feelings. With great satisfaction, Hiba mentions that the participants soon began to experience an improvement in their psychological and social well-being.
“We noticed a change in their faces. They started to have hope for the future” (Hiba, program facilitator)
In addition to our whole family counseling program, CRP runs a diverse range of community-based psychosocial support activities, all of which aim to improve participants’ emotional well-being. This includes activities like our Mind Body Medicine program and listening circles which promote mutual support among community members. Our community-based psychosocial support activities also involve art, creativity, and movement since we have found that having time to relax and be creative gives people tools to help them manage their stress and general anxiety. Yoga, Taekwondo, and art and music classes are just a sampling of activities that provide this support.
As in all families, the parents in the communities we serve simply want to do the best thing for themselves, their spouses, and their children, and they know that this means taking care of the mental and emotional states of themselves and their loved ones. We continuously hear from our community that they need more community-based psychosocial support programming, and we agree that these programs are a real priority right now.
As program facilitator Hiba says, “Some families were starting to bring other families with them who wanted to register, however, since the program was about to end, we couldn’t accommodate them”. As partner funding is limited for these programs, we often have to put them on hold until we can find the funds for them to continue. This is the case for CRP’s wonderful whole family counseling program, which began thanks to a one-year grant that has recently ended. This is just one of many activities that has great potential to positively affect more and more families in our community, yet it’s clear we need to secure funds to keep it going.
In the aftermath of Covid, mental health support programs are more important now than ever. For the families who come to CRP, making connections with others, learning how to interact positively with one another and learning skills to deal with their stress can help them to not only take care of their well-being in the present but also set their families up for success in the longer term.
Donor Relations and Communications Intern