This year’s Time 100 features Israel’s Prof. Edna Foa, a clinical psychologist who developed a specialized therapy to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Foa’s achievement on the weekly US magazine’s prestigious annual list of the year’s most influential people is particularly impressive as it is usually politicians and military or cultural figures who are chosen.
A graduate of Bar-Ilan University in Israel, Foa currently teaches at the University of Pennsylvania. Her work concentrated on post-rape trauma, until a visit back to Israel in 2000 prompted her to refine her treatment method and switch her focus to combat-related PTSD.
Her method is called Prolonged Exposure, or PE, and focuses on identifying thoughts and feelings that trigger the highest levels of fear among patients, and then gradually exposing them to these triggers. Foa’s methodology has seen great success in both the US and Israel, and she divides her time between the two countries.
The article in Time says: “The US military – which isn’t easily wowed – is embracing PE.”
In the US, there are half a million veterans from Vietnam alone who suffer from PTSD, and another 300,000 or so veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan.
“There were people who didn’t function for 30 years and within two or three months started functioning wonderfully,” Foa told Ynet website’s reporter Yitzhak Benhorin.