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Civilians trained by American mental health professionals bring healing to traumatized victims of Libya's civil war, Baylor study finds
Date:12/12/2013

Civilians traumatized by Libya's civil war in 2011 which left many homeless, poor and grieving have virtually no access to mental health professionals, but many have found healing through small groups led by Libyan volunteers who were trained by American professionals, according to a Baylor University study.

The finding has implications for traumatized people elsewhere, including in Somalia and Ethiopia, where similar efforts have begun; and in Egypt and Uganda, where such training is to begin soon, said Matthew Stanford, Ph.D., a professor of psychology and neuroscience in Baylor's College of Arts & Sciences, who led the research. The study is published online in the South African Journal of Psychology.

"The American Psychological Association over the past few years has called for psychologists to develop new ways to deliver mental health services, because there simply aren't enough providers in the United States and it's even worse elsewhere," Stanford said. "Taking basic therapeutic principles and putting them into a format peers can deliver has been very effective."

In November 2012, shortly after the eight-month war's end, Stanford and a team from Acts of Mercy International, a Christian relief organization, traveled to Libya and found an inadequate mental health system fewer than 30 psychiatrists and no licensed psychologists or social workers in a country of more than 6 million people.

Libyans are struggling to cope with the aftermath of the war as well as 42 years under the brutal rule of dictator Moammar Gadhafi, a regime in which many were tortured or systematically raped. As many as 15,000 Libyans were killed and more than 50,000 injured in the war, and thousands live as "internally displaced persons (IDPs)" in camps throughout the country, Stanford said.

Team members focused on a camp for about 2,500 people near Benghazi. They recruited 10 volunteer civilians, who completed an intensive four-hour tr
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Contact: Terry Goodrich
terry_goodrich@baylor.edu
254-710-3321
Baylor University
Source:Eurekalert

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