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College of Psychology Faculty, Students visit Jordan


The NSU College of Psychology team of faculty and students.

For Clinical Psychology doctoral student Oraib Toukhly, a recent NSU-sponsored trip to Jordan was a homecoming to her native Jordan.

Toukhly was one of several College of Psychology students who accompanied faculty on a two-week trip to Jordan in March 2018. She worked with Associate Professor Stephen Campbell, Ph.D., of the Department of Clinical and School Psychology, to organize the trip. Campbell and groups of students have previously traveled to locations in Africa and India. The trip, coordinated with the Jordanian government, brought the NSU team in contact with several client populations in the city of Aqaba, including Syrian refugees, survivors of domestic violence, and children with disabilities.

“The demand for services is overwhelming,” Campbell said.

Cases ranged from a man who served in the Syrian army and had been tortured, to children experiencing depression or having disciplinary issues at school.

Jordan, a country with a population of over 10 million, has only eight licensed psychologists, who are all based out of the capital city Amman. In working with Syrian refugees, Toukhly said it was common to see issues like posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or in children attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). One obstacle in assessing conditions and explaining them was the language barrier – both in the need for a translator and the lack of equivalent mental health descriptors.

“The parents don’t know what’s wrong with their kids, so we tried to normalize the symptoms,” Toukhly said. “We used simple descriptions of symptoms, like that depression was more than sadness.”

Professor John Lewis, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Clinical and School Psychology, said some children, as a result of the trauma they witnessed in Syria, were acting out and showing aggression in school. One child with oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) was abusing animals, Lewis said.

“These kids have been deprived of education and activities,” Lewis said.

Original story:


Professor John Lewis, Ph.D., performs a “fins up” salute outside the historical city of Petra in Jordan.