Family and Community

Conventions, Courses, Workshops

Sowing New Seeds

And this time in China

Dr. Gail Suskin, Therapy Coordinator at Arugot and Chair of Department of Creative Arts in Education at Oranim, Academic College of Education, was invited to lecture in China at two international conferences. Her topic: Integrating the Creative Arts in Early Childhood Education.

Her lecture addressed the importance of incorporating creative arts into the curriculum of preschool children, an approach used at Arugot. Reinforcing activities in preschools with creative arts has been recognized as a significant factor in the enhancement of child development. The range of arts offered to young children include: drama, movement, music, and plastic arts which expose them to a world of creativity, curiosity, self-expression and fun.

Gail has over 25 years of experience as a Movement Therapist, working with young children. Her lectures were attended by members of the Chinese Ministry of Education and generated much interest and enthusiasm.

Empowering Schools – Joining with School Staff as Part of the Therapy Process

At an evening for school principals and educational counselors a program was outlined to empower staff from schools to be part of the therapy process.

Here at Arugot, much emphasis is put on the importance of educational staff being involved in the therapy of children at the Center. Children spend most of their time at school. In most cases, there, in the “war zone” of the school, their difficulties come to the fore, far from the protected environment of the home. Therapy at Arugot is enhanced by the cooperation of therapists with school teachers and counselors.

These ideas were reinforced with an expressive workshop run by Shira Zimmerman, MA and Psychotherapist, who works at a trauma center “BeNafsheinu” in Bnei Brak.

Educational and Empowering Evening for Mothers of Children in Afula Branch

Over 150 mothers participated in an educational and empowering evening for mothers in the community, which was informative, stimulating and moving. Introductory remarks by Jacob Vizel, Director and Pnina Berkowitz, CEO were followed by a question and answer session on the topic of child raising. Questions were answered on the spot including advice, practical tips and information when to receive help from professionals. This was followed by an evening of entertainment, which evoked both laughter and tears.


Evening for Mothers in Afula Branch

“Playing is not Child’s-Play” was the topic of an exciting evening that took place at our newly opened second branch in Afula. Mothers spent an enjoyable evening listening to a lecture by Dr. Gail Suskin PhD, Arugot Therapy Department Co-coordinator, on the topic of “The Importance of Playing with One’s Children”. She emphasized the importance of both imaginative play and cognitive games. This was followed by interactive workshops run by a music therapist and an art therapist.



Professional training course for paramedical staff with Malka Shamir – physiotherapist and occupational therapist who has developed a treatment model to help children with developmental delays in the area of sensory integration, balance, muscle tone, and more. The method is called: SPA – Sensorial Postual control Acquistion and is based on years of experience with working with special needs children and can be of benefit to children of all ages, including babies. The course is both theoretical and practical providing participants new methods to work with children.

International Conference in Bijie, Guizhou – China took place in November 2017 at the Bijie Preschool Education College – Dr. Gail Suskin, Phd. and head of emotional therapy department at Arugot presented a lecture on “Creative Arts in Early Children Education” together with a hands on workshop to give the feel of therapy. The conference was attended by a team of experts from Oranim Academic College of Education – Tivon, Israel; leaders and experts from Guizhou Provincial Education Department, universities and colleges; principals and teachers from public and private kindergartens in Bijie City; leaders from Bijie Municipal Government and Municipal Education Bureau.

Lecture for Staff by Chava Rothschild, Graphologist on the topic of how to use children’s drawings as an assessment tool.

International Conference organized by ECARTE  (European Consortium for Arts Therapies) on the topic of: “Traditions in Transition” New Articulations in the Arts Therapies in Krakow, Poland – Gail Suskin, Phd. who heads and supervises our emotional therapy department presented her groundbreaking dissertation in gender studies on body and self perception of Israeli women. Her research compares different sectors of society, using a short term culturally sensitive Dance/Movement Model and has generated much interest locally and abroad.

First Aid Course for staff in Developmental Preschools – Ichud Hatzalah provided an important course to all staff members of Arugot’s preschools giving them important life saving skills.


May 2017 – Convention for School Principals and Counselors on the topic of abuse in the local community: awareness-prevention-treatment. Close to 60 school principals, counselors, teachers, and therapists participated in an amazing convention to address this painful, and often neglected topic. The convention marked the establishment of a forum called “Open Space” that will discuss pertinent educational and social issues in the future, using professional multi-disciplinary discussion. The evening was opened by Chaya Handelsman, Arugot representative, who spoke about the importance of nurturing our children. This was followed by a lecture by Dr. Yael Keidar whose thesis is based on abuse in the orthodox community. She presented a review of the literature and brought important data to the fore. The keynote address by Galia Sabrasov raised important issues on abuse, the role positive parenting plays in preventing abuse, and identifying victims – be that in the home or the classroom. She left the audience with a feeling of wanting to hear more, especially in light of her conclusion that not every victim will agree to reveal the abuse or be open to treatment options. The finale of the evening was a puppet show “A little bird chirped a secret” using birds as characters which portraying a typical scene. One actor working with puppets was able to give over a powerful  message that included a text, a subtext and a deeper message. This play is part of an educational program and is viewed by parents, educators and even children.



A course for  our staff and professionals from other organizations on D.i.R. – The Greenspan Floortime Approach took place at Arugot and has generated much interest. D.I.R. – The Greenspan Floortime Approach was created by Dr. Stanley Greenspan for children on the autism spectrum and those with developmental delays. Floortime can give them the skills necessary to progress in school and in life. The goals of D.I.R. are to deepen relationships, strengthen communications, expand thinking and learning, and foster better behavior.

A convention in Jerusalem “El HaNefesh”,  organized by Yedidut Toronto, who support our Center by providing funding for emotional therapies, was attended by Pnina Berkowitz, Educational Director. The convention addressed pertinent issues in therapy such as addictions, abuse,  resisting therapy, social skills, using play in therapy, and more. A refreshing look at well known issues.

Workshop at Maccabi Health Services: Connecting the Lines between Religion and Therapy

In a workshop run by Arugot staff at Maccabi Health Service, the staff presented a special program on culturally sensitive treatments – a modal developed at the Center. Dr. Gail Suskin, co-ordinator of therapy services presented her research on the ultra-orthodox population. She described her experiences when meeting this population both professionally and personally.
Orit Gaspar, Occupational Therapist participated in a duet with an orthodox mother who brings her child to Arugot for treatment. Pnina Berkowitz, Educational Director, described the activities and projects. The participants thanked Arugot staff for the informative and enlightening workshops.


A series of workshops for mothers and children from our Day Care Center took place at the Center to enhance the mother-child bond, promote acceptance of the special child, and provide important coping skills. The first workshop on “Play as a tool for  teaching skills” – run by an Occupational Therapist showed mothers how fun time can enhance cognitive, motor, and emotional development using different games and toys. A second workshop with a dance/moverment therapist, using music and movement, showed mothers how to increase body awareness and improve sensory motor development.  With the approach of Chanukah, a third workshop using psychodrama gave hands-on tools to mothers of young children using drama, improvisation, imagination, movement, music, song and dance with young children.

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Pnina Berkowitz, Educational Director and Dr. Gail Suskin, Coordinator of Emotional Therapies participated in a groundbreaking conference at Shaarei Zedek Medical Center. This annual conference on child neurology addressed the topic of gender and brain differences. Their report back on “Brain, Gender, and all the Rest” to our staff generated much interest and discussion.


Orientation Day for entire teaching and therapeutic staff: A lecture by Dr. Michal Kidron – coordinator of Play Therapy Program at Oranim Academic College of Education in the area of her expertise; and a play: “Child on the Spectrum” by a group of parents of children with special needs describing every day situations that they have to cope with.

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Training Course for Preschool staff on the topic of The Greenspan Floortime Approach D.I.R to enhance their professional skills when working with children.

Convention on the topic of culturally sensivtive treatments for professionals took  place on our premises for 30 doctors, paramedical workers, social workers, Municipal representatives, Health Service representative, and therapists. The lectures addressed the topic of treating culturally different populations and the importance of understanding the inner world of the client, his culture, social cues and where he is coming from. In order for therapy to succeed the therapist must understand the world of the client, on the one hand, and the client must feel comfortable in the presence of the therapist, on the other.

Oranim, Academic College of Education, hosted an evening for Arugot therapist Dr. Gail Suskin, PhD., where she presented the results of her research thesis based on her work with women. The amazing outcome proved that short term therapy using dance/movement group therapy results in improved psychological well-being and body perception. The evening was well attended by all those who participated in  Gail’s therapy groups, professionals and colleagues. The electric atmosphere was contagious with spontaneous dancing erupting at the end of the evening.

“Staff teaching Staff” : The entire staff participated in a serious of lectures presented by in-house experts. Instead of bringing lecturers from afar, our own therapists taught each other innovative and unusual approaches to therapy and treatment, expanding their therapeutic tool box.


Professional staff participated in a course at Elwyn Israel on Group Therapy for Siblings organized by Irgun Kesher (an organization that helps parents of disabled children). The cource was run by a social worker and a coach and covered topics such as: how siblings are affected by a disabled child in the family, and how the difficulty promote personal growth.


Preschool Open House: An event for preschool teachers who work in regular frameworks was a huge success. The evening started off with an introduction by Preschool Director – Mirit Levy, explaining the expertise of Arugot staff, how to determine which children should be referred to a developmental preschool, and how this is done – technically. Then two of our therapists each gave an interactive lecture. The first addressed various aspect of playing box games. The way a child plays a game reflects his social behavior. Does he take the risk, and play to win, with the chance that he might fail? Does he enjoy the game, or is he tense in case his opponent outplays him. Does he know how to organize himself, plan the moves, look ahead how to reach the outcome? Is he competitive? There was much fun and laughter as the audience participated – stepping into the shoes of the child who has difficulty playing a motor game – shooting a monkey onto a tree, with some success, but mostly a lot of frustration. This was followed by a lecture on how to impart unpleasant information to parents. Teachers often hold back important information because they lack the skills how to talk to parents. When parents finally hear that their child might have a problem, the child is often almost in first grade, and then parents claim – why did no one ever tell us – after all the child has already been in the framework for 3 years. Participants improvised a teacher and a parent. The “teacher” role played a meeting with a “mother’ who was in denial and could not accept that maybe her child needs an assessment. By the end of the evening the audience and the lecturers had established such good rapport, that only an unexpected area power failure – courtesy of the electric company, could get them all to go home.
Reaching out to the community to heighten awareness about our work and the importance of early intervention: When a child receives help in time, he can become a productive and contributing member of society, utilizing his potential. Children with learning disabilities and developmental delays are at-risk. They can easily drop out of the school system if their problems go unattended. To this end we ran a series of workshops in the community for parents to inform them of the nature of our work and its importance. Evenings took place at our Center and in schools and preschools and included lectures, hands-on workshops, demonstrations, and meetings with our staff.

The Crisis Center – Tahel, situated in Jerusalem has run a 12 meeting course at our Center for women in the community to train volunteers to accompany victims of abuse when dealing with the authorities. The course included a visit to a hospital and court, and guest visitors included a judge.



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