Between the Fear and the Falafel a Traumatized Nation

Between the Fear and the Falafel a Traumatized Nation

From Susan J Belitsky

As 5th wave isolation expands & resources grow thin, I am asking for immediate support to offer Trauma-Informed Therapy to people who cannot afford it & painfully want it & clinic start-up costs under corona conditions.

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12 months ago

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Every single person living and building a life here in Israel needs a hearty bowl of ongoing support and many of us need financial supportIt's just plain hard to live here. This request is written to an international community, many of you who don't know me from the other side or from this decade. My professions and projects need some explaining.  Please read what speaks to you and skip what you wish. Each time I made this shorter it didn't explain enough of my work to both sides of the ocean. Catch the bold words and read on as you wish. My hope is to raise money and awareness of life here in our complicated stress-riddled country.

There are immediate needs and longer-term plans to maintain a Therapy Fund and build the practice/business. You can see on my website the hard-earned foundation for the following vision:

If you prefer shekels you can make the contribution with Paybox. 

1.  Sponsoring a client by paying for their therapy or donating to this therapy fund so I can offer a sliding scale all the way to zero.

2. Startup costs, professional fees, and car costs to get to clients.

3. Donating to the animal care costs and adoption of some leftover cats.  The animals are a part of animal-assisted therapy and harnessing the animal-human bond for healing both.

SOME BACKGROUND SO THE REST MAKES SENSE (if you don't need this skip it)

My therapy practice is trauma-informed and experiential and it is oddly fit for corona times. I want to explain why and see if you will help me bring it to people.  With all the restrictions and fear we are living with; we are challenged to be fiercely adaptable.  I am extraordinarily adaptive and actually trained to be so: in therapy, all kinds of body-based and activity-based therapies, and adventure. Recreational Therapy is my first second degree and it makes a practice out of the idea that play, recreation, and yes leisure, are an essential part of being human; and that all activities can be adapted for the moment's need. 

Quality of life includes access to leisure experiences and opportunities for self-development and self-expression. With stress and traumas, our playfulness and participation in the lighter side of life can be inhibited, denied, or abandoned as survival energy takes over. Sometimes we just don’t have access to the resources to explore our interests, or we don’t give ourselves permission to indulge. We all have innate hobbies and interests and talents to create, play and explore. Recreational Therapy takes the therapeutic value of these inclinations, pairs them with activities, and uses them with the intention of healing and restoration.

I believe that everyone has a right to a quality of life that includes exploring our strengths and our passions; removing barriers, and then accessing ways to do what we are each born to do.  As a Clinical Social Worker, I can take these therapeutic experiences to their depths and with tools like Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT, Tapping) and  EMDR we can deal with symptoms and get folks back in and out there doing what makes them feel alive. I will go out there to meet a client whenever they need.  If you’ve always wanted to hike Masada, we can work through the roots and go to the mountain together. In corona times many have lost their bearings when it comes to navigating the stress and the desires to go out and stay safe. All of my work is adaptable to the circumstances of each person and may involve animals, art, nature, navigation, talking, moving or somatic work; may expressive arts or just good old talking.  It depends on what is needed in each endeavor. That is the beauty of adaptive Recreational Therapy and the Clinical Basis of Social Work: A very clear commitment to person-centered, in the environment, meet you where you’re at therapy.

With my heart fully anchored in the blissful, free playfulness of summer camp, I have spent a lifetime developing research-based professional ways to play, heal and grow; to access the freedom to explore and discover how to use activities to calm, lift, and integrate.  I will help clients adapt what they love or loved or haven’t yet loved, to this world we are currently living.

With this lens please consider supporting my work.  

You can see more about what I do and offer on my website; including the goals of my practice. If you are inspired to support my work on a larger scale ~ I have a full, clear vision and business plan on the social action page.  My overall private practice business is called the Hollow Place. I just opened a studio/retreat space that is called Studio Phistukio. It is one aspect of my work that I can do on-site and in the surrounding forest and area.  The outreach part has been a long-standing part of my practice since the days of home-based therapy back in Taunton, Massachusetts where I first got licensed as a Clinical Social Worker.  The various projects and activity-based therapies are a natural part of the integration of Social Worker Recreational Therapist. I hope this gives you an understanding of the breadth of the vision you are about to see.  It is full, but not scattered.  It is that of an experientially-based therapy: We take it all of life through our senses.  As the body carries all of our experiences, so it is through the body that we heal.


Survival is a collective endeavor, especially here.  In the spectrum of individual to collective, this country is a blessing and challenges and unified survival.

 1.      Another intense corona wave is taking its toll in unyielding stress and despair on individuals. Many cannot pay for the therapy they desperately want and need. My way of doing therapy is highly adaptive to the corona restrictions and accessible in these current times of isolation.

 2.    First of the month expenses are looming for my practice and clinic.

3.    I moved and the outdoor cats from the old house now need food, care, to be neutered and homed to bring decades of care to a respectful end. 

4.    My practice is about bringing people together and this past wave of corona made it prohibitive just when I invested in opening my own clinic.  Between the rain and the virus, I have had to cancel almost all my work this entire month and I have to cover the startup expenses.

5.    Time also needs funding. The cost of living is exorbitant and the salaries unbelievably low and I’ve made the choice to create a business with various income streams.  It takes an enormous amount of time to get it all going. Language is a barrier for a profession that is critically and essentially language nuanced, and navigating here takes more time and energy.  My Hebrew is street-savvy; therapy is something far more tender.  After 12 years with my nose to the grindstone here, it is time to be self-sufficient, independent and private practiced. I’m at the end of the rope hanging on and doing acrobatics that would impress the feline kingdom and make proud the old gymnasts:)

6.    I’m almost there!  In the past years I lost my dog, my job and my dad.  I’ve been in an insanely intensive course of study for the Israeli Tour Guide License with a relentless schedule and demanding breadth of knowledge in times of corona, national disasters and war.  I want to be of service and take good care of myself so that I can be a presence of wellness in this time of international exhaustion.  Since September I moved to a new house, seriously injured and rehabilitated my knee, passed my internal final, and set up this clinic retreat center. Like the Phoenix, I’m rising, but the cost of all of it together has brought me to the financial limits.  I’m repaired, inspired, and I’m ready for business! I need financial support to get past this last hump of bringing a life’s work to fruition. From vision to form has finally taken form here. Please help me keep it afloat and get it out to the public.

The belief I am enough, I have enough is very important.  At this point, I’m a one-person business and on a practical level I’m not enough to pull it off alone.  Individual grit passioned determination isn’t enough. My intention is to build a collective here and it’s in a brilliant stage of collecting.  In the meantime I’m reaching out to the greater collective; to invest with care, time, services, professional collaboration, and financial contributions.

This wandering Jew needs a village, today.



At the end of December, I opened my studio/clinic to offer Outreach, In-Office, Homebased, Retreat, Tour or Nature-Based Therapy~ A seriously research-based, Body-Centered, Adventure, Animal and Arts-Based Therapy. Really. I am a Clinical Social Worker, Recreational Therapist, EMDR and EFT trained Expressive Arts Therapist with a completed Israel Tour Guide course and exam in waiting, and a painfully earned Israeli Teaching License. This, plus a deep passion for personal truth, social action, and healing. All this put together creates an Experiential Therapy that is highly adaptable to our current COVID situation.

The money will be used to offer therapy to people who cannot pay and to cover the cost of setting up my whole practice and clinic, studio space, gas, marketing, time to write and publish, and a trademark for one of my projects. You may choose where you want the money to go or make a general donation and I will follow up and let you know it’s been used. I assure you it will be targeted and well used. The need is immediate both for clients who have called for treatment and cannot afford the cost and for basic resources for me to get started in times that have been hard, to say the least, in a being with people profession.  I particularly want to reach people who are not reaching out because of financial barriers.

I was all ready to open my doors and offer a month of therapeutic and community-building activities and then The 5th Wave of Corona came and I couldn't open the doors. So I planned Outdoor therapy activities - and we have had 3 weeks of almost daily harsh cold rain. I am highly adaptable, but this is ridiculous. So I've focused myself now on reaching people homebound and hurting for therapy that comes to them. I am a Social Worker at heart full and full. I will go to clients, but I need to cover start-up costs, gas, marketing fees, and a trademark stamp. Please consider sponsoring a person and paying for their therapy or supporting my life's work that has just come into form as Studio Phistukio. The name is the blending of the words pistachio and fistuk; the English and Hebrew versions of this well-loved nut.

Therapy can take many forms and Studio Phistukio is a place that takes the therapeutic process to its creative core. Located in the beautiful north of Israel, Studio Phistukio is a studio/clinic that is a colorful, engaging place for Experiential Trauma-Informed Therapy. Responding to the ever-increasing stress on our lives, this is a retreat center, treatment center, and therapeutic spa space for your broken heart, tired spirit, and frazzled nerves. The adjoining Aloney Abba Forest is magical, the clinic is professional yet playful, and there are endless possibilities for designing a treatment plan. Here you have the opportunity for evidence-based trauma work that can be in a way familiar; or as a therapeutic adventure and touring that can involve taking the process outside to wander the forest, be with the animals, and move in the ways that suit specifically you. You have the safety of the office for anchorage and grounding and the outside ground for returning to nature’s calm. Similar to choices of spa treatments, you can come for one hour or day or weekend intensive and choose from a list of options that include Animal Assisted Therapy, Expressive Arts Therapy, EMDR, EFT, Recreational Therapy, a walk on the path of Nahal Tsippori, touring the area, ReOrienteering, Sand Tray Therapy, Authentic Movement, Artist’s Way, or a long walk to the spice farm.

 Located near Kiryat Tivon, Studio Phistukio can be a destination for tiyulim and tipulim/ or touring and therapying. This country offers an unbelievable historically, archeologically, culturally, and phenomenally diverse rich source of angst. Let’s use its landscape well. After traveling all over the country studying I have a strong vision for addressing intergenerational trauma with the backdrop of thousands of years of history rich in unbelievable places to visit that are as provocative as they are healing.

Studio Phistukio is intended to be a place for individual healing in therapy and also a place to bring people together in creativity and exploration. We share a very special and very complicated country. This studio/clinic is intended for respite and therapy sessions, therapy intensives, group work, salon nights for deep dialogue, cross-cultural exploration, and simply being together as humans to learn, heal and grow.

I live and have my therapeutic center in a Bedouin Village between the Aloney Forest and the Nahal Zippori Stream.  Particularly because of this people will come.  Likewise, because I am here, people will not come. I understand this.  I am here simply because I love this forest and its treeful serenity.  I was living in Kiryat Tivon and the house where I was living was put up for sale.  Looking to stay with the forest and have a certain kind of lifestyle, I happened to find it here.   Resist all the assumptions you may have for what this means and come for what all of this may mean for you.  This is my life’s personal and professional offering at this point in time: to create a respite from your every day for a therapeutic day in a beautiful space on earth. 

There is the human-human bond; the person-in-environment relationship; and the animal-human bond. I have learned most of my most precious lessons from the animals and they are a big part of my work. There is also a very real shared suffering that goes on here between the humans who have unresolved trauma and the animals who both bear our burden. There is an immediate need for animal care costs as well. Along with my neighbor and his cat sanctuary, we are responding to the well-known problematic culture of street cats.  We have a number of cats that need homes and medical care. Just today I was at the vet with Muncher. Seems he has a fever, poor guy. He's doing much better and I have a 400 shekel bill. More on the animals below.

In these uncertain times being adaptable is an essential nutrient. My practice is based here and also travels. Like a classroom without walls, therapy can be safe outside the office as well. I will meet you in your favorite places for Recreational Therapy or come to you for Home-Based Counseling. I will come to you. Then together maybe we will go out. Therapy can be indoors or outdoors. It can be on zoom or in a field in bloom. I am professionally adaptable and the therapeutic process is ours to sculpt. Simple or adventurous. It is the essence of experiential therapy cultivated by years of clinical work and intensive study. It’s not meant to intimidate. It is intended to inspire. Life’s an Adventure. So is Therapy.

My work is well thought out and integrated and possesses various income streams to make it viable. For now, I need to cover a month of being unable to work just at launching time.

Please consider offering immediate financial support to my life's work.

 A well-supported life pays its treasures forward.

It's a Healing Journey All the Way Around

A BIT more about the animals and more individual stories as soon as I can.....

Animals have a way of reflecting back to us the ills and misdeeds of us humans. Israel is a nation of immense trauma and misdirected aggression, and unresolved traumas get played out through the mistreatment, misuse, and abuse and neglect of its animals. It’s a natural progression to pass it on to the ones without power. Dogs are often thrown out on the streets; female puppies are thrown to the trash and many abused animals are left on the doorsteps or tied to the animal shelters’ doors. Most people here have acquired their pets because the animal of choice chose them one day out of the street or because the owner was killed in the troubles and needed a new home. Pets here are a bit of a conundrum as many dogs wander the streets on their own and dogs manage the neighborhoods through wandering and territorial behaviors. The freedom of dogs to be off-leash and free seems to be an opposing reaction to the powerlessness people have experienced and the intergenerational oppression this country was built from. Free at any cost. But our dogs and cats pay a very high cost. 

Dogs are related to Holocaust memories of being threatened with vicious aggressive dogs. Many religious people are brought up to fear them and think of them as dirty. Cultural influences and realistic farming practices have used dogs for work and guarding and not companionship and family members. As a cultural difference, dogs are left outside in all conditions and the cats, oh the cats.  If you’ve ever been to Israel, you just may have found yourself marveling at the sheer presence and resourcefulness of Israel’s street cat culture. There’s even a word pachtulim or trashcan cats in the local slang.  There is a huge problem of unclaimed and uncared for cats on the streets rummaging through the equally vast amounts of trash left all over the place. The trash is a win for the cats.

But how we treat our animals is a measure of how we treat each other and how we really are inside ourselves. For an American animal-loving therapist walking the world with dogs here has been the most painful part of my aliyah or immigration. It has sadly taught me the part of Israeli culture that is cruel, heartless, and careless.  It has shown me the ways that people are unwilling to accommodate others or negotiate the space that dogs and humans need to interact safely with the oversight and ultimate control of their owners. There are many wonderful things about living here. There are many caring and compassionate people. The balance is a bit off and the unresolved hurts that people harbor come out quite quickly in the interactions of cats and dogs and humans. 

My focus is on trying to restore a sense of trust that gets broken between people - and often the first reparative relationship for trust is with an animal. Animals offer the uncomplicated relationship. If we can begin to trust with the ones known for unconditional love, we just then may be able to do it with people.

In Wellness, 


Susan Belitsky, MEd, MSW, CAGS, Israeli Teaching License

Life's and Adventure. So it is Therapy. 

972~52~4866046 or In Israel 052.486.6046


Take care and thank you so much from the deepest parts of my heart. 

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Susan J Belitsky posted a new update:
12 months ago

Update #3

Upcoming Activity!

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Susan J Belitsky posted a new update:
about 1 year ago

Update #2

Amazing to have support coming from so many directions in so many forms and currencies!

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Susan J Belitsky posted a new update:
about 1 year ago

Update #1

Muncher got his antibiotics and fever reducer and he's feeling much better.

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