Bringing Hope to New Orleans and Healing Our Troops

by Shirley Archer, JD, MA on Apr 01, 2007

Additional body-mind skills training is available for wellness professionals who are motivated to assist survivors of Hurricane Katrina or veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Center for Mind-Body Medicine (CMBM) is developing a New Orleans Hope project to help Katrina survivors cope with the hurricane’s continuing mental and emotional toll.

Last fall, The Journal of the American Medical Association (2006; 5 [296], 585–88) reported that as many as “half a million U.S. residents in areas devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita [might] still need mental health assistance, but [they were] unlikely to get it.” To address this need for help, New Orleans Hope will provide body-mind skills training in self-care for local professionals, who can then integrate these skills into existing health, mental health, social service and educational systems. James S. Gordon, MD, the center’s founder and director, is collaborating closely with Kevin Stephens, MD, MA, director of the New Orleans Health Department, and with other government agencies, to reach out to healthcare givers who are well situated to help community members.

The CMBM is also initiating a program called “Healing Our Troops,” designed to give veterans powerful and healthy tools for managing their own recovery. Thirty thousand veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have sought treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the most commonly diagnosed disability after musculoskeletal injuries, according to the New York Times (Oct. 11, 2006). The goals for Healing Our Troops include aiding traumatized veterans in addressing and managing anxiety, depression and PTSD; helping returning troops to reintegrate into daily life; and using the CMBM’s “Healing the Wounds of War” strategy, pioneered in Kosovo and the Gaza Strip, to train health and mental health professionals who work with returning soldiers.

According to the CMBM, the techniques taught in its skills trainings are scientifically proven and include psychological self-care, self-expression (words, drawings, movement), body-mind techniques (meditation, guided imagery, biofeedback and yoga) and group support. The CMBM is offering scholarships to train teachers and is seeking funds to support its programs.

To learn more about these programs or about scholarship assistance for professional training in how to teach body-mind skills, see

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About the Author

Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA IDEA Author/Presenter

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, was the 2008 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and is IDEA's mind-body-spirit spokesperson. She is a certified yoga and Pilates teacher and an award-winning author based in Los Angeles, California, and Zurich, Switzerland. Two of her books, The Walking Deck and The Strength and Toning Deck, are now featured as iPhone apps. Contact her at