Shaping the future: Our strategy for research and innovation in humanitarian response.

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Principal Investigators: Lori Zoellner, University of Washington and Norah Feeny, Case Western Reserve University


Due to war and regional unrest, many Somalis have experienced not only the physical wounds of conflict but also damaging mental wounds. These often include problems such as confusion and related symptoms of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress (PTSD).  This mosque-based programme addresses the effects of trauma in the community and promotes community building. The programme incorporates Islamic principles with techniques from evidence-based, trauma-focused interventions to address the impact of trauma in one’s life and community.

This work seeks to strengthen the capacity of the community to facilitate trauma healing through existing mosque infrastructures.  The programme will be expanded to additional mosques.  Using a train-the-trainer model, community leaders become expert trainers.  These leaders will then train and supervise new leaders.  Accordingly, the programme task shifts to community leaders in local mosques by training them in enhancing mental health and promoting reconciliation.

Sheikh Abdirahman Musa Tubeec

The nation experienced multiple traumas and mental injures after the collapse...The skills we learn from this programme will help us to assist the community and lead us to heal the mind of our people.

Expected Outcomes

This randomised controlled trial will produce strong empirical evidence for the effectiveness of this brief intervention for war and refugee trauma and its ease of implementation by community leaders.  It hopefully will lead to improved mental health and improved day-to-day functioning and wellbeing in those participating in the programme, including enhanced connection to one’s community, one’s faith, and forgiveness of others.

This research aims also to highlight the ease of uptake of such an intervention with Muslim communities. Through both quantitative and qualitative data, we expect group members and leaders will report that the intervention matches well with their culture and faith and that the intervention is easy to train and implement.

Islamic Trauma Healing Group Leaders in Borama. Credit: Mumin Hussein Egeh
Islamic Trauma Healing Group Leaders in Hargeisa. Credit: Mumin Hussein Egeh
Facilitating the prolonged exposure therapy training in Turkey. Credit: University of Washington.
Prolonged exposure therapy training in Turkey. Credit: University of Washington.
Prolonged exposure therapy training in Turkey. Credit: University of Washington.

Related Resources

Briefing Note Mental Health and Psychosocial Support

Islamic Trauma Healing Programme Brief

Article, Peer Reviewed Mental Health and Psychosocial Support

Islamic trauma healing (ITH): A scalable, community-based program for trauma: Cluster randomized control trial design and method

Latest Updates

Blog: Supporting clinicians in Turkey post-earthquake

Nov 2023

Following the February 2023 earthquakes, the University of Washington team identified an opportunity to support earthquake survivors, by delivering a training to mental health clinicians in Turkey on prolonged exposure therapy. Find out more about the training and hear from the participants in this blog.



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