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IFS Support for Those Working with Syrian Refugees

Tom, author of the well-known book Parts Work: An Illustrated Guide to Your Inner Life, has developed a mental health model that is harmonious with the Islamic culture. With his wide range of knowledge of spiritual traditions, he incorporates into his work the 11th-century Islamic scholar Al Ghazali’s views of the personality, which are highly respected within the Sunni community and fit well with IFS. His presentations of this integration of IFS and Islamic psychology to a variety of academic and clinical audiences in Jordan has been very well received. “People really grasp what the IFS Model is all about, even in cultures as varied as Korea and Jordan. It is truly universal.” - T. Homes

Initially concerned about the high burnout of those working with refugees, he began offering free self- care workshops to professionals who worked with refugees, noting that integrating IFS with spirituality was effective with burnout prevention. In Spring 2017, he began working in Jordan with therapists at the Center for Victims of Torture in Amman and with social work students at Yarmouk University in Irbid, introducing them to the integration of IFS and Islamic psychology. Lecturing to over 200 faculty members and students at Yarmouk University sparked interest in IFS as well as in translating his book into Arabic. (Also translated into German, Korean, and Italian.)

 

Tom enlisted artists who are refugees in the oldest Syrian refugee camp, Zaatari, (near the Syrian border), to create illustrations that will be used in the translation of his book. The art was also used to create the first edition of the Inner Active Cards, and a new book he is writing in collaboration with psychologists in Jordan on the integration of IFS and Islamic psychology. These images aim to reflect the experiences and the appearance of people in this region.

Tom offered IFS as a psychoeducational model to the mental health unit of the International Medical Group (IMC), one of the important mental health service providers to refugees in Jordan. He is currently training psychologists there on IFS for self-care and burnout prevention. He is also working with translators, as new research shows that 20 percent of translators working with refugees show significant PTSD symptoms, and many others display burnout symptoms. Together with a professor at Yarmouk University, he is developing a model for using IFS as a way to reduce secondary trauma in translators who will likely be translating stories of war trauma in various NGO jobs in Jordan.

In 2018 Tom was invited to offer workshops at the Dawar Center in Cairo Egypt.  Out of that grew a training where he shared his integration of IFS and spirituality with the therapists associated with Dawar.  Their enthusiasm for and understanding of IFS was so strong it motivated Tom to find a way to bring the IFS Institute training to the Arabic-speaking Middle East.  After Dick Schwartz met the people Tom had worked with, he too became enthused about this project. With the support of the IFS Foundation in May of 2022 the IFS Institute provided a Level 1 Training for the Arabic speaking population.

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