Psychologist Keren Tzuker during respite activities held for evacuated
children in Kibbutz Ma'agan Michael, this morning, December 5, 2010.
December 5, 2010 / 28 Kislev 5771
Keren lives in Haifa, but did not have to evacuate her home due to the fire. As part of her work as a psychologist at the Hof HaCarmel Regional Council Psychological Services, Keren treats children who experienced the trauma of the fire.
What is your job in the current crisis we are facing?
The Regional Council is providing treatment for children who were evacuated from various communities in Northern Israel due to the fire that broke out on Mount Carmel on Thursday. The fire was a very traumatic experience for all the children. As in any other trauma, it is very important to help the children relax, tell their stories, and understand what happened in general, but also on a personal level.
What are you doing here, in Kibbutz Ma'agan Michael?
The Jewish Agency organized activities for the children here on the kibbutz. We, the professional team, made two rounds: First, we divided the children by age group. Then we asked each child where s/he came from, and we mixed children from areas that were affected with children from areas that were not affected. The children have become over sensitive, and some of them feel very threatened. But it is important to enable them to express their worries without delving into their fears.
What are the goals of psychological treatment during such an event?
One of the goals is to identify children who are in particular distress – this can be expressed by a child who is very quiet and closed or a child who is very temperamental. Luckily, we did not find such cases today. If we had found such a case – we would have contacted the family immediately, to understand the cause of this behavior and to provide close assistance to the child and the family.
How do you summarize the children's situation?
All in all, the children are over-excited. Many children are feeling confused because they have had to leave home and go to different places, so such respite activities are very important. It is significant that the children are able to meet with other children who have been through the same experience, and it allows the children not to worry so much.
How are you going to continue with the program?
At the moment, as each community was affected in a different way, there is no uniform treatment that suits everyone. Each community has its own story – and the professional system evaluates each case separately and adapts accordingly.
What message can you give the parents?
I think that a very important message for the teachers and parents is to know how the child behaved before the fire, and if there is anything unusual in their behavior, they must contact professionals for treatment. Among those who were evacuated – we do not foresee any difficulties in their returning to routine. However, if after a while a child has difficulties in returning to his/her routine, this should be handled. One must strengthen the children's spirits with a sense of faith, hope and rehabilitation.