The Guidance and Training Center for the Child and Family’s (GTC) vision is that all Palestinians will be able to access high quality mental health services and that Palestinian mental health professionals will contribute to national and international psychology research.
The GTC was founded in Bethlehem in 1994 to provide mental health services, special education services and training for Palestinian children and families.
The GTC follows a holistic approach to meet the needs of the children and families and support healthy social, cognitive, emotional and educational development. The GTC focuses not only on the problems of the individual and families but the environment that they live in and how the cultural context affects them. As part of this approach the GTC nurtures relationships with parents and families, schools, governmental and private organizations.
The educational unit is focused on building the capacity of mental health practitioners and the general public, reducing the number of misdiagnosed cases and developing the basis for a Palestinian Clinical Psychology certification. On a bi-monthly basis the GTC provides lectures to the public covering topics like. These lectures are attended by hundreds of people annually and provide a basis for further learning about contemporary issues and mental health in the Palestinian context.
The GTC is also developing a year long multidisciplinary traineeship program to build the capacity of psychologists in Palestine. As a result of the complex political situation in Palestine and the high demand for mental health professionals, standards for practicing psychology are low and most mental health professionals do not have specializations and experience with supervisors. The Traineeship program is designed to support them in further internalizing and consolidating their knowledge, connecting it to real world practice through training, mentorship and supervision.
The GTC also coordinates with public and private social and educational institutions such as the Palestinian Ministries of Social Affairs, Health and Education, private schools and community based organizations to develop different social, psychological and educational aspects of mental health in Palestine.
- Clinic / Services
The GTC’s clinic provides individual and group therapy to the public. Patients are referred to the GTC from schools, doctors, governmental and non-governmental organizations and others. The treatment utilizes a holistic approach and is focused on the Palestinian context. The GTC has 8 psychologists and treats approximately 400 patients annually. In Bethlehem, the GTC is one of the few places to receive mental health care services and treats patients from Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Hebron and the surrounding area.
- Research Unit
The Research Unit is focused on developing research and studies that will contribute to knowledge about mental health in Palestine and the Arab World and contribute to better therapeutic and diagnostic approaches. The GTC maintains a public and private database about the mental health of patients which it utilizes to develop research. Psychologists working at the GTC and internationally regularly cooperate with academics from Palestine, Europe and the United States to design research projects, psychology tools and raise the awareness of the public.