Anxiety and Trauma – Acupuncturists without bordersBY Keren Assouline & Adi Gerlitz


 “Acupuncturists without borders” use uniform acupuncture treatment and group therapy in disastrous and conflict areas all over the world to overcome Anxiety.

Anxiety plays a major role in our world today where economic instability, violence, wars of a religion nature and all sorts of conflicts and disasters turn into reality for a bigger part of the human population.

We in Israel, have been experiencing this reality for quite some time now and the problem is with the residue the traumatic incident leaves behind: anxiety. When we talk about a treatment in Chinese Medicine we talk about movement. The movement must be allowed to complete itself in order for excessive energy to be discharged from the body thus allowing the body to regain a new dynamic balance. Trauma is the opposite of movement: a blocked movement, a standstill, a stagnation. The trauma is trapped inside the body causing anxiety.

One of the less discussed problems with anxiety is that it leads to loneliness. We feel alone with our thoughts and fears. That is why it is a crucial for people suffering from anxiety to be in a group therapy. We at “Acupuncturists without border” find group therapy for people who suffer from anxiety as a very powerful tool. The patients have a place where they can come and talk about their fears and thoughts and what they get in return is much more than acupuncture. They get a legitimacy and support from both the group and the practitioners. The group therapy enables us, the practitioners, to treat many people simultaneously. They come in, join the circle, receive acupuncture treatment but also, and maybe more importantly, a place where they can feel as part of something, at list for a part of the day. This model uses the group Qi and the synergy between the practitioners to empower healing. Our treatment is based on a model that combines the Group Medicine Circle protocol and the NADA ear protocol.

From a Chinese medicine point of view what happens in anxiety is that the Shen lacks its anchorage and our boundaries no longer protect us. Therefore the treatment guidelines would be to redefine those boundaries as well as to give a sense of center and grounding to the patient. The NADA ear protocol works very well in this case as it is balancing the nervous system and harmonizing and soothing the mind. The protocol is fixed. We treat all our patients with the same protocol which allows us to serve a lot of people and at the same time give them the opportunity and the space to do their own processing. The “Acupunctures Without Borders” organization (AWB) was established in 2005 after the devastating Hurricane to help the people of Louisiana who were suffering from stress and trauma as a result of the hurricane. We have recruited and trained over 80 practitioners to work according to our protocols in New Orleans, and treated close to 8,000 people.

The AWB goal is to help achieve stable, peaceful global communities. We feel that acupuncture in the Group Medicine Circle model is a way to achieve this goal. Knowing that the repercussions of unresolved trauma can last for decades we believe that our volunteers provide a good treatment to trauma, stress, anxiety and depression. The AWB network provides immediate and long term relief and recovery to those communities who are in a crisis situation regardless of its origin: a Force Major or a human conflict. AWB also trains local practitioners to continue the work after we are on our way to the next disaster area or wherever we are needed. We provide those practitioners with ongoing support system in case they need it.

Some of AWB projects:

Military Stress Recovery Project

AWB is currently running a program all around the USA that treats military personnel, veterans and their families with free community acupuncture. Initial reports came from Albuquerque where veterans reported sleeping throughout the night for the first time in years with fewer nightmares after receiving the acupuncture treatment. They also reported an improvement in their mental clarity, less anxiety and the stressful feeling diminishing as a whole. Some even reported of decrease in headaches and sciatica.

Disaster Recovery Projects

AWB is very much involved in helping people recovering from disaster. The AWB organization helped over 20,000 people in disaster zones like Hurricane Katrina, The Iowa floods, the shooting in Tuscon, Arizona in 2011, the Earthquake in New Zealand in February 2011.


Israel was established in 1948 as a “post traumatic state” following the Holocaust. The Israeli people live ever since in a state of conflict with the other countries in the region. Last April we held the first AWB Trauma Healing training program here in Israel. The training program was mutually guided by the American founding team and an Israeli team. In the previous year we have conducted a successful one year pilot at NATAL (Israel Trauma Center of victims of Terror and War).

In the last few months we began establishing and conducting Healing circles both in Israel and the West Bank. Our work location varies from community clinics model to field clinics for traumatized families in private homes.  We have created Medicine Circles in Sderot, Netivot, Tel Aviv and Jaffa. Our current goal in AWB in Israel is to establish a network of Medical Circles that will eventually reach all those who will need it, to offer relief to Jews and Arabs alike, and everybody who needs help - all in order to promote peace medicine in our region.


תרגום לכתבה זו זמין גם ב: English

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