Project Chai Provides Crisis Support, Training, and Resources to Surfside Community

Chai Lifeline crisis team partners with local organizations to help mental health professionals and first responders process trauma and help others

Project Chai, the crisis intervention, trauma, and bereavement department of Chai Lifeline has partnered with the South Florida Jewish community to lend support and resources following the tragic building collapse in Surfside.

On July 20 and 21, Rabbi Dr. David Fox, director of Project Chai, provided intensive psychoeducational and clinical processing to local therapists, rabbis, chaplains, and first responders in two days of sessions coordinated in partnership with the Jewish Community Services of South Florida. The first set of sessions helped individuals who were on the ground at Surfside to address, reflect on, accept and process the event and its impact on them. The second set helped equip local therapists and first responders to work with victims and witnesses of the Surfside tragedy using Project Chai’s trauma attuned model adapted for psychotherapists who will provide ongoing treatment of traumatized survivors, witnesses, and victims of the tragedy. This “Deep Dive” seminar focused on actual trauma-treatment tools and essential skills for listening and processing trauma within the context of therapeutic treatment, as opposed to short-term crisis intervention. That seminar will continue over zoom with Dr. Fox providing consultative supervision to the therapists. Many therapists have already signed up for upcoming training down the road to becoming Project Chai crisis interventionists. 

“After Surfside, it was evident that there is a real shortage in crisis and trauma-educated interventionists,” said Mathew Weisbaum, director of the Chai Lifeline’s Southeast region. “We have seen a tremendous interest in people looking for ways to help through becoming part of our trained volunteer crisis intervention teams.” 

“We have developed our model of structured evidence-based techniques over some 20 years, based on the needs of the community,” said Dr. Fox. “Project Chai is a support for people during some of the hardest moments of their lives to make sure they experience and process tragedy in the healthiest manner possible.”  

Chai Lifeline is an international health support network providing social, emotional, and financial assistance to children, families and communities confronting illness, crisis, and loss. To learn more, visit www.chailifeline.org

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