Background information on PCC
The Palestinian Counseling Center was established in 1983 by a group of psychologists, educators and community activists to provide professional and quality mental health care to Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Since its inception, and through its team of multi-disciplinary counselors and experts, the PCC has served as a catalyst in promoting community-based development and introducing the concept of mental health in Palestine. At the time of its founding, mental health services in the region were restricted to psychiatric treatment for mental disorders at mental health hospitals and private clinics operated by psychiatrists. Treatment methods used were largely archaic, limited to bio-medical approaches, including medication and electric shock therapy. To counter these potentially harmful tactics, work at the center began, on a voluntary basis, through awareness-raising efforts in schools on the importance of mental health counseling and working with children exposed to physical and political violence. Since then, the PCC has passed through a number of phases in its development process that have led to its present shape and character. The organization continued its efforts initially through broadening its awareness-raising activities from school-based to community-inclusive, stressing the importance of counseling as a form of effective therapy for psycho-social problems for individuals of all ages. Counseling as a concept had to be introduced, understood, and accepted within Palestinian society in order for any substantial changes to be made. To enhance these efforts, the PCC then moved to place supervising psychologists, counselors and social workers within schools and primary health care clinics across Palestine, familiarizing the community with the idea of mental health care. In the period that followed, the PCC found that specialized mental health services and clinics became more widely accepted and sought out, and thus expanded its actions in response. The PCC now offers comprehensive psychological care – including direct intervention, prevention methods, capacity building, and lobby and advocacy efforts – that reach Palestinians throughout Jerusalem and the West Bank. The center has its headquarters in Beit Hanina, East Jerusalem, with branches and clinics in the old city of Jerusalem, Ramallah, Qalqilia, Nablus, and Jenin. The PCC currently employs approximately 40 staff members and serves over 12000 direct beneficiaries.The main beneficiaries of the PCC’s work have been the geographically, socially and economically marginalized groups, namely children, youth, and women. Beneficiaries are targeted through a comprehensive methodology, including direct intervention and prevention approaches as well as advocacy for policy changes aimed at enhancing mental health services. ThePCC also provides quality care and the building of skills and capacities of those who work with these individuals and groups.
The PCC operates through six departments – the Clinical Department, the Prevention Department, the Capacity Building Department, the Advocacy Department, the Administrative and Financial Department, and the Public Relations Department– all of which work together to successfully achieve the organization’s goals. The first four departments house the PCC’s mental health programs (including individual treatment, group therapy and related policy work), while the latter support these efforts through securing financial backing and promoting organizational work and aims in public mediums. The Public Relations Department will be of primary focus in the remainder of this manual.
The Palestinian Counseling Center is a non governmental organization that provides comprehensive services in the field of mental health including therapy, psychological counseling, socio-educational services to prevent the development of psychological problems, capacity building and consultations to organizations and individuals working in mental health, in addition to lobbying and advocacy to influence legislation and policies that enhance the right to a state of mental well being in Palestine.
The PCC functions according to set of clear values. All of the activities of the PCC operate in consideration of the following principles:
- Respect of international and national laws and conventions that enhance human rights; specifically, those that ensure a dignified life to all of the PCC’s target beneficiaries (namely children, youth and women).
- Uphold the best interests of the child. The PCC ensures that children’s dignity, as well as general health, including mental health, is respected and enhanced. Non-discrimination on the grounds of gender, color, religion, or nationality is promoted. The PCC engages all relevant stakeholders in upholding the best interests of the child, and ensures child participation in decision-making, planning, and evaluation of projects that target children
- Solid obligation towards national and social responsibilities. The PCC, for example, has managed to sustain and expand its operation in Jerusalem in spite of Israel’s systematic policy that aims to drive Palestinian institutions and individuals out of the city. Additionally, the PCC is committed to improve the lives of its main target beneficiaries by advocating to improve the environment they live in; most significantly in calling for an end to the occupation, the main impediment to mental well being as well as towards improving the legislation and policies that govern the mental health sector.
- Do no harm. The PCC recognizes that its work exists within a larger socio-policial context that fuels a vulnerable Palestinian community. It therefore aims to build resiliency levels of the population and accordingly expels every effort to minimize the potential for any negative impact that its activities may indirectly have.
- Commitment to privacy and secrecy. The PCC ensures the respect of the privacy and secrecy of the target beneficiaries by committing to a set of strict procedures, especially in the provision of individual and group therapy. PCC staff understands the importance of maintaining the privacy of their counselees and fully commits to safeguarding it. The PCC takes all necessary measures to also ensure that the beneficiaries are aware of their right and fully understand it.
- Perseverance and consistency. In spite of drastic changes in the funding agendas of several donors in Palestine, the PCC remains committed to its vision and mission that are derived from the needs of the Palestinian population. The PCC refuses, therefore, to accept politically conditional funding and/or funding that is not in line with the Palestinian community’s needs.
- Professionalism. Over the past 30 years, the PCC has maintained a long-standing reputation of professionalism. This is guided by a set of policies and procedures that encompasses a code of ethics, which respects the privacy of the target beneficiaries in therapy and prevention, as well as the policies and procedures that regulate the PCC’s administrative and financial work.
- Holistic approach to mental health. The PCC views the individual as part of the environment that both impacts and is affected by the individual. This relationship is determined partly by the individual’s biological and hereditary nature as well as his/her age. The PCC has therefore focused on all age groups as one of the main services provided to individuals to reach a state of equilibrium with the environment.
- Pluralism. The PCC provides equal opportunities to all people regardless of their cultural, social or political backgrounds. The PCC’s policies take into consideration gender sensitivities and emphasize the employment of people with disabilities. In this respect, the PCC also makes sure that any special job requirements are made available.
- Secularism. The PCC believes in the freedom of religious practice and opposes all attempts at religious coercion. The PCC exerts all efforts to maintain its secular nature and image with complete respect to religious beliefs.
- Transparency. The PCC publishes its administrative and financial reports annually using various communication means, including electronically on the PCC’s website. The reports are made accessible to all those interested such as the PCC’s beneficiaries, partner organizations, governmental and nongovernmental organizations, etc. It is worth noting that the PCC has consistently received the certificate of proper management over the past years.
- Keeping pace with scientific developments on the administrative and programmatic levels. The PCC adopted a policy to encourage its staff to pursue their education. Staff can choose to continue their higher university education or can benefit from the individual and group supervision provided by the PCC.
- Planning. Planning is carried out with the full participation of the PCC’s general assembly, the board of directors, the staff, the beneficiaries as well the partner organizations.
- Decision-making. Decisions are made according to the PCC’s organization structure and hierarchy. Issues are discussed and decisions are made according to their importance whether on the level of the general assembly, board of directors, internal management, staff or programs.
- Accountability. The PCC is committed to respond to and address the needs of all relevant stakeholders in its decision-making processes and activities. It will therefore maintain transparency in these processes and facilitate means for participation, evaluation, and feedback.
In all of its work, the Palestinian Counseling Center aims to achieve the following objectives:
- To improve the well being of individuals and groups psychologically, occupationally, educationally and socially.
- To reduce the danger of developing psycho-social problems among individuals and groups in marginalized areas.
- To upgrade the capacities and performance of individuals and institutions working in mental health.
- To improve policies, procedures, systems and practices related to the mental health of individuals and the Palestinian society at large.
• The Evaluation of the main programs of PCC 2010-2014.
• Development of the five-year strategic plan 2016 to 2020.
• Emergency intervention psychological first aid to those affected by the Israeli in the West Bank including Jerusalem.
• Completion of the Emergency Psychological Intervention Guide based on the previous experience and evaluation of the program implemented by the PCC
• Emergency intervention and provision of psychological first Aid to those affected by the Israeli aggression in Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.
• Implementation of the second phase of the project “Kick the ball and care for yourself” in partnership with Free Berlin Group in Germany.
• The introduction of a new model to work with children with special educational needs “respond to the intervention”. It includes the provision of therapeutic intervention on individual and group levels, teachers’ capacity building and building pressure on the Ministry of Education to adopt special methods to work with children.
• Launching of the sexual health rights and reproductive health program in the Shufat refugee camp.
• Publishing of three professional guides in mental health, expressive arts therapy, case management and intervention in times of crisis.
• Start the implementation of Wujood Project "Strengthening the Resilience of Vulnerable Palestinian Communities in East Jerusalem Protecting the rights and promotion of steadfastness of the marginalized communities in East Jerusalem," in partnership with Oxfam and four other Palestinian human rights organizations funded by the European Union.
• Graduation of 17 specialists (psychological and social) with a diploma in professional supervision of from the Free University of Berlin in Germany.
• Start implementing a specialized treatment program for delinquent young men and women residing in Juvenile Centers in Ramallah and Bethlehem. The focus of the program is on psychological and social rehabilitation.
• Issuing of a research study on the psychological and social impact on families forced to self demolish their homes by the Israeli authorities in the city of Jerusalem .
• Started working on animation video clips around topics related to child protection.
• Started implementing the new five-year strategic plan for the Centre 2010-2014.
• Start implementing the child protection program to protect marginalized children from harm and violence.
• Started the implementation of the women empowerment program in target areas of marginalization.
• Started implementing rapid intervention program for the prevention of the effects of the crisis with children who are at risk of losing their homes as a result of demolition or confiscation by the Israeli authorities.
• Started implementing a specialized treatment program to work with children with special needs (children suffering from learning disabilities and children with behavioral and emotional problems.
• Introduced a special program to develop the staff own capacity.
• Started working with the Palestinian women prisoners in Palestinian jails in order to reduce the psychological and social problems that they may encounter inside the prison.
• Started implementing advocacy campaigns to ensure that psychiatric patients and their families get their rights accordingly.
• The opening of a new branch center in Azzun village funded by KFW / UNDP on land donated by the Municipality of Azzun to PCC.
• Hosting of Diploma training program for 16 Supervisor and Specialists from the PCC , the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, the Arab Society for Rehabilitation, UNRWA, and the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
• Publishing of a research study: "The effects of the home demolition policy on Palestinian children and their families"
• Publishing of a research study:"Prevention measures from Psychological burnout of Palestinian teachers"
• Organizing of Art Exhibition "At the gates of Jerusalem" as part of the celebration of Jerusalem as the capital of culture.
• Underwent a process of external evaluation of PCC’s programs between 2005-2009.
• Silver Jubilee celebration of the establishment of the center.
• The center opened its doors to new graduates majoring in psychology, social work and education as part of the internship program. These students, were provided with a nominal stipend during the second year of training at the center.
• Started implementing a specialized treatment program for young men and women who drop out of school.
• The first funding experience as a financing institution through the application of the Partnership funded Grants for the development of Palestinian grassroots organization NDC Center, and developing the capacity of youth organizations in Jerusalem Governorate
• Contributed in partnership with the Arab Resources workshop in Lebanon in the preparation and publication of a book of general mental health entitled "where there is no psychiatrist."
2007 – PCC receives the Welfare Association Prize for Achievement
2007 – PCC hold a conference titled, ‘Mental Health in Palestine: Realities and Challenges’
2006 – PCC launches a Rehabilitation Program for Individuals Severe Psychiatric Orders/ Day Care Program in Azoun – the first of its kind in the oPt
2005 – Youth National Conference, “Mitigation of Youth Issues’
2005 – PCC opens branch in Azoun, Qalqilya
2005 – Establishment of the Advocacy and Lobbying Department
2005 – PCC develops a five year strategy plan (2005 – 2009)
2004 – External Evaluation
2002 – PCC elected for the PNGO Steering Committee
2002 – PCC opens branches in Jenin, Ramallah and Nablus
2001 – PCC receives accreditation from the European Graduate School and is now an affiliate
2001 – PCC opens its first branch, ‘Community Resource Center’ in the Old City of Jerusalem
2001 – PCC begins workshops in debriefing for mental health workers and social workers – first professionals in the West Bank with this experience and ability to train others
2001 – PCC assists in establishing emergency ‘crisis intervention’ committees throughout the West Bank
2000 – PCC begins evaluation and strategic planning (organizational revision) as part of its periodic system of evaluation and planning
2000 – PCC takes a lead and forms the Jerusalem Coalition for Crisis Intervention
2000 – PCC puts together an emergency mental health plan to respond to the Al-Aqsa Intifada
2000 – PCC establishes contact and begins correspondences with European Graduate School In Switzerland
1999 – PCC trains first mental health workers in psychodrama from the center and other organizations
1998 – PCC begins Psychodrama activities and introduces it into the West Bank
1998 – PCC establishes Social Work Program
1998 – PCC establishes Youth Empowerment Program
1998 - PCC establishes Public Relations Unit
1997 – PCC three year strategic document complete
1997 – PCC undergoes external evaluation and strategic planning sessions
1997 – PCC establishes Child to Child Program
1996 – Revival of the Big Brother – Big Sister Program
1996 – Establishment of Remedial Education program
1996 – Palestinian Ministry of Education adopts School Counseling Program and hires 400 school counselors throughout the OPT
1996 – PCC functions on a voluntary basis for six months due to financial constraints
1990 – PCC undergoes its first external evaluation
1989 – Developing a model of Integrating Mental Health into Primary Health Care Program
1988 – Halting of Big Brother – Big Sister Program due to mobility restrictions during the 1st Intifada
1988 - PCC and ECRC publish Simple Guide Manual
1988 – PCC publishes its first publications
1987 – The first Intifada begins; PCC staff expands to meet the challenge of mental health needs arising from the Intifada and begin home counseling in refugee camps and villages
1986 – PCC establishes the Big Brother – Big Sister Program
1986-9 – Training and placement for first school counselors in the OPT
1986 - Establishment of first School Counseling Program in the OPT
1985 – PCC establishes Training and Consultancy Program
1984 - PCC hires Clinical Supervisor for guidance of staff
1984 – PCC establishes Family and Group Counseling Program
1983 - Establishment of the PCC – the only mental health organization in the oPt