Skip to main content

conference on healing the trauma

Three members of the Council of Jewish Women of the Czech Republic are organizing a three-day conference in Prague in November 2012 on Trauma, Dreams and Consciousness: Traumatized Groups, Healing and Identity.  

Helena Klímová, Verona Miletin, and Alice Veselá decided to organize the Prix Irene Conference after attending the March 2012 Conference of the American Group Psychotherapy Association. 

Helena explains: "During one of the sessions a spontaneous discussion arose; did we, the central European Jews, do enough to save ourselves during the Shoah? We realized that there is a need to address the questions of adequate self-protection and the different ways of saving oneself and one´s own group, by considering wider examples of social unconscious in other countries, nations and ethnic groups.  A distinguished colleague suggested that a special dialogue should be arranged, between the Israeli and the Diaspora colleagues on this topic. It seems that it is up to us to start such a dialogue - after all, we are the children and grandchildren of those who had to fight for their lives. Also our younger generations had to face totalitarianism in the form of state communism. It is up to us.

"During the time of state communism, identity was seen in a very simple way: either We or They. All of us – or the communist party leaders. Nor were there any Jews: there were either Counter-Fascist-Fighters (the survivors of concentration camps and a few partisans), or the ideological enemy of unidentified origin, the so-called Zionists. 
"Only after the Velvet Revolution were we able to start free discussion. In 1994 we met for the first time – the self-help group of professionals, trained and experienced therapists, with personal or family experience of the Shoah. And it was our British colleague Irene Bloomfield who helped understand us better what had happened to our families, to the world and to our souls.

"For six years Irene used to come and teach us, accompanied by her friend, psychologist Gaby Glassman. In 2001 Irene passed away. In her memory we founded the Prix Irene Award and seminars. Our centre where we have been providing psychotherapy for survivors since 1997 was renamed the Rafael Centre after the London Rafael Centre that Irene had run. In 2006 we founded Rafael Instituteto train prevention and treatment of trauma caused by group violence.                                                                                                                                 
"The Prix Irene is awarded to a person who succeeds in helping make peace among human groups. The prize awarding ceremony is accompanied by a yearly seminar attended by Czech and international professionals. In 2012 will mark the 10th anniversary of the Prix Irene awards by hosting this conference."

The conference will have international and inter-disciplinary participation and is organized under the auspices of the Mayor of the City of Prague, Dr. MUDr. Bohuslav Svoboda, CSc. and in conjunction with the New York University in Prague.

Among the topics to be addressed will be the ways human groups deal with deadly trauma – with ethnic bullying, totalitarian regime, emigration, life-threat? Which are the resources of resiliency? How the generations of children and grandchildren and the society at large are participating on recovery? How to identify the totalitarian patterns soon enough? How the trauma is dealt with by dreams, art, culture? How does it shape human identity?  And the relations between colleagues from Israel and from Diaspora? Who are we? Who is nourishing our souls?

Further information can be found at and you are invited to email