The new season of the podcast "In Simple Words" is called "The Science of Resilience". In 15 episodes, the hosts together with leading scientists and practitioners will tell how science and psychology see the mechanisms of resilience building in difficult periods.

The first guest of the season is Mooli Lahad, an Israeli psychologist and trauma specialist, founder of the Institute of Dramatherapy, and President of the Community Stress Prevention Center Kiryat-Shmona, Israel.

This article will provide you with details on how the BASIC Ph resiliency model has emerged, what are similar features in Israeli and Ukrainian experiences according to Mooli Lahad, and how we can improve life resilience, building it on the basis of resources and skills we already have.

The season "Science of Resilience" of the "In Simple Words" podcast is released as part of the initiative of First Lady Olena Zelenska to implement the All-Ukrainian Mental Health Program "How Are You?" The project was implemented in cooperation with the Coordination Center for Mental Health of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, with the support of WHO.

 Photo: brightontherapypartnership

You can listen to the full conversation on all podcast platforms

Who is Mooli Lahad

Since the 1970s, Lahad has explored the natural mechanisms for coping with stress and increasing resilience and applied his method to the development of Israel's educational and psychological systems. It helps people affected by wars, terrorist attacks, and natural disasters around the world. Lahad worked in the US after the 9/11 attacks, Hurricane Katrina, in Sri Lanka, and in Japan after the tsunami. Now he trains Ukrainian psychotherapists and from the experience of his country knows how to adapt to the threat that lasts for years and build a proper life under constant stress. BASIC PH is a model that focuses on natural coping mechanisms. It consists of six elements of resilience, the combination of which forms a unique style of overcoming difficulties. The more of these elements we are able to use, the more resilient we can become.

How it all started

Mooli Lahad's acquaintance with the concept of resilience began even before he chose psychology as his life's work. Until the age of 20, he served in the Israeli Air Force, participated in military actions, lost friends in the war, and supported the families of those who were captured.

Serving side by side with a combatant commander who must control his emotions and inspire hope in others despite all the terrible losses of aircraft and pilots; weekends spent at the POW identification center; and assistance in the post-war rehabilitation of veterans — all this provided Mooli Lahad with a real-life experience of copying and being resilient even before he began to professionally study these concepts. After completing his service, he decided to get an academic education in psychology, and in 1975 he joined the first project in Israel to help the families of those killed in the war, where he watched how differently people persevere through grief and loss.

In 1979, together with his wife, he went to the north of Israel to volunteer in the war zone, which was under constant shelling from Lebanon. He expected to see the queues of patients to the psychological clinic and mass manifestations of trauma. But instead, most adults and children who had been in military reality for years, under shelling and terrorist attacks, continued to live some semblance of a normal life, at the same time showing some signs of trauma, though.

Lahad decided to figure out how they did it. Together with colleagues he interviewed 300 children and 400 adults and processed hundreds of answers on how people deal with this situation. In the rural area where the study was conducted, there wasn’t a single computer, so Lahad jokes that he had to use the oldest computer that God gave us, namely — the brain, and sit for hours over the classification of answers. Scientists managed to systematize all the information obtained and identify six main ways in which people overcome long-term stress. This became the basis of the BASIC Ph model.

There were almost no studies of psychological stability (resilience) in those years. The scientific community paid more attention to studies of pathologies and deviations from the norm, and there was next to none relevant data on how people live under the influence of long-term stress and cope with it. That's why the model proposed by Lahad was innovative and caused some surprise and misunderstanding when it came to a certain part of the scientific community. But according to the results of the following decades of in-depth research and the use of the model in Israel and the world, the author is convinced that focusing on psychological resilience as a key to prosperity, and not the absence of pathologies, is the right way.


Belief — our principles and values, which become our core in times of stress or crisis. These are not just religious beliefs but also political ones, or even the sense of having a mission in this life, the sense of your life having meaning.  






In the article “From Victim to Victor: The Development of the BASIC PH Model of Coping and Resiliency” Mooli Lahad states that each of us has a special coping mechanism, an individual way to “meet the world.” It is formed under the influence of our upbringing, life experience, and genetic factors. But it's important to understand that most people use more than one element of the model, and many have well-developed three or four elements. The author uses a metaphor of languages to explain how we use different elements of the model in order to overcome difficulties. Each of us has:


APPARENT LANGUAGE are those elements of the model that we consciously use to overcome difficulties. 

FORGOTTEN LANGUAGE: Elements that are currently unavailable to us, but can be developed.

ADJACENT LANGUAGE: Elements we use but are not aware of. 


For example, if you are a sociable person and in difficult times you need to be close to others, then the apparent language is the element S – SOCIAL. The forgotten language in this case may be C – COGNITIVE. If you need to evaluate and resolve an issue on your own, you may feel confused and not know how to proceed. 

Another example is when a person tells you the stories of horror that shatter your heart. And when they hear you saying that it is a really sad or horrible story, they reply: "Sad? I don't know. I think that… ” – then you know that the apparent language of the interlocutor is C — COGNITIVE. Consequently, when you try to communicate through an emotional element, the person does not respond to you. For them, that's a forgotten language.

An adjacent language is something we say or do, and don't notice. For example, when a person describes his complex experience in a language, rich in metaphors, this indicates the use of element I – IMAGINATION. But a person may not realize that they have a developed imagination and creativity. Recognizing this language and consciously using it can enhance a person's ability to cope with stress and be resilient. 

Each of us can use all six elements. They can be developed both in therapy and in preventive work, and this will not change your personality — it will only expand the range of methods to cope with stress and ways of being resilient.


Implementation of the model and global recognition

Shortly after the research and presentation of the BASIC Ph model, Mooli Lahad developed Israel's first preventive care program for teachers and children being under long-term attacks. He has co-authored three foundational books for the Israeli mental health and education system on how to cope with stress and crises. They are called the “books of life”, and they are about getting through traumatic events, natural disasters, and industrial accidents. The methods in them are designed for individuals, families, groups, and organizations.

In 1980, thanks to the proposal of Israel's Ministry of Education, Mooli Lahad led a project aimed at introduction of resilience practices into the entire educational system of Northern Israel. Subsequently, the project will become an independent organization "Israeli Center for Stress Prevention", which has been operating for more than 40 years.

In addition to the BASIC Ph model, he developed the SEE FAR CBT psycho trauma treatment protocol, which is used by psychiatrists and psychotherapists around the world. His models and methods are taught at universities of Europe, the United States, and Japan; he has written 35 books and won international prizes, including the WHO prize for humanitarian work in disaster zones. And with the beginning of a full-scale invasion in Ukraine, Mooli participated in training the training of Ukrainian mental health specialists.



A look at Israel and Ukraine

Mooli Lahad says that until October 7, 2023, he felt that there were some unique parts of the Ukrainian experience and that he could tell the exact difference between our situations. But when the massive shelling of Israel began, he saw more and more similarities between us. The main thing is that attacks on the civilian population are constant and for no real reason, just for the sake of killing. This has a long-term impact on a huge number of people, causing trauma. 

Another common feature is that psychotherapists live in the same conditions as the victims. And if earlier specialists simply did everything possible to help others, they soon have realized that they, too, are part of this common traumatic experience and also suffer from it. Therefore, the main task of psychologists and psychotherapists at the moment is to continue to develop their ability to be useful, while also dealing with the complex reality in which they are together with their clients.

The main difference, according to Lahad, is that in Israel, unlike Ukraine, there is no friendly border to cross and go, for example, to study, as some Ukrainian psychologists do. His Israeli colleagues have no choice but to maintain their strength and stay in their country. He does not make any comparisons, only points out this difference, and adds that he learned a lot from Ukrainian therapists and medical specialists who came to his course in Poland. They helped him and other international coaches better understand the situation in Ukraine when both therapists and clients were under the same terrible circumstances.



Resilience of Ukrainian mental health professionals

Mooli Lahad remarks that he is not sure whether these features are inherent in Ukrainians in general, but when it comes to the Ukrainian psychologists he worked with as a coach, he saw several important signs of resilience. 

The first is generosity, which is an important stress-coping mechanism. Generosity not only towards others but also towards yourself. The ability to give yourself something that will help you feel like you're alive.

Secondly, it is the comfort that people find in traditional songs and music. This is not typical for every culture, but Ukrainian songs, sung by the group, gave Lahad (even without understanding a single word in Ukrainian) a sense of memories of his native land, the memory of his people. Their soothing, somewhat sad motives and at the same time — constant rhythm give a sense of the flow of life. 

The third thing that was noticeable in Ukrainian specialists is that they are very attentive and open to others. That means they really want to help. From his experience working with representatives of former Soviet countries, Lahad notes that they are mostly very slow to accept his creative methods and have lost their immediate ability to show creativity and imagination. On the other hand, Ukrainian psychologists impressed him with their openness to the new.

And the last is a clear sense of meaning in what Ukrainian specialists do. They have a strong inner conviction and responsibility to do good for others.


 You can listen to the full conversation on Youtube


You can listen to the full conversation on all podcast platforms

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The season "Science of Resilience" of the "In Simple Words" podcast is released as part of the initiative of First Lady Olena Zelenska to implement the All-Ukrainian Mental Health Program "How Are You?" The project was implemented in cooperation with the Coordination Center for Mental Health of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, with the support of WHO.