Monday, April 27th, 2015

National Symposium

Connecting Leaders, Impacting Communities & Sustaining Programs

Strengthening the National Torture Treatment Network

April 27-28, 2015

Registration extended until Monday, April 13, 2015

University of Miami

Student Activities Center
1330 Miller Drive
Coral Gables, FL 33146

Join us April 27-28, 2015!

Interactive Modules I Actionable Workshops I Strategic Networking

As programs are created, expanded and optimized with ever-shrinking resources, it is critical that refugee service and torture treatment providers address not only holistic practices in refugee mental health, but also the components of building and expanding sustainable programs and networks both regionally and nationally.

The National Partnership for Community Training, a partnership between the Florida Center for Survivors of Torture, the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma and NYU/Bellevue Program for Survivors of Torture, is joining the University of Miami School of Law’s Human Rights Clinic to invite you to a 2-day National Symposium during which leading experts in the field will introduce and demonstrate tools and techniques for creating robust torture treatment and refugee mental health programs.

The Symposium will address considering non- traditional program structures, implementing meaningful partnerships, and integrating clinical and legal approaches, while experts will also address current thematic issues in torture treatment, such as working with interpreters and designing orientation curricula.

As providers, we have a responsibility to be aware of what is working for our colleagues and clients in the field. Not only is it imperative for direct services, it also informs advocacy efforts, grant proposals and community, regional, and national responses to the refugee, asylum seeker, and asylee experience.

Regional and state refugee health coordinators, program directors, entrepreneurs in the torture field, social workers, health professionals, lawyers, educators, ESL teachers, therapists, faith leaders, refugee groups and other trauma-related professions will be encouraged to attend.

Breakfast. snacks, lunch and refreshments will be provided on both days.

9.5 CEUs (7 Clinical and 2.5 Administrative) have been approved for licensed clinical social workers, licensed mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists. Provider 50-190 Expiration: 2017.

This program has been approved for 9.5 CLEs by the Florida Bar reference number 1501798N. Florida Bar members can report their CLE credits on line at

Download the Symposium flyer to share with your network

NPCT_logo_email UM school of law
Bellevue harvard

Information Guide: Working with Interpreters: Service Provision with Torture Survivors

The National Partnership for Community Training is pleased to present the Information Guide: Working with Interpreters: Service Provision with Torture Survivors.

Work with interpreters should be grounded in best practices, with creativity and flexibility to fit the context. Cross-cultural and trauma-informed skills are critical in interpreted services with traumatized refugees. We can anticipate, manage, and address challenges faced by refugees, interpreters and service providers.

  • Download the information guide here
  • View the webinar here
  • Download a PDF of the presentation slides here


Working with Interpreters: Service Provision with Torture Survivors

Work with interpreters should be grounded in best practices, with creativity and flexibility to fit the context. Cross-cultural and trauma-informed skills are critical in interpreted services with traumatized refugees. We can anticipate, manage, and address challenges faced by refugees, interpreters and service providers. Through the use of case examples from the field, this webinar will address how to provide and fully utilize interpretation, modes and styles of interpretation, best practices and challenges.
Participants will gain skills in:
  1. Conducting effective, culturally-informed, and trauma-informed services through interpretation
  2. Identifying and addressing challenges related to interpretation
  3. Training interpreters and care providers in use of interpretation
The objectives of this webinar are to:
  1. Enhance provision of services to traumatized refugees of diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds
  2. Increase awareness, knowledge and skills of service providers working with traumatized refugees
  3. Offer strategies for more effective communication when using interpreters
  4. Offer participants best and promising practices for working with torture survivors

[Read more…]



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Trauma, Spirituality and Faith: An Overview of the Interplay as Survivors Risk Connection and Recovery

Spirituality and faith can be leveraged to increase mental health for survivors of torture, displacement, immigration and other traumatic experiences by assisting in the process of rebuilding one’s sense of self through strengthening self-capacities, such as managing feelings, positive inner connections, and felling worthy of life. This webinar provides a broad overview of the role of spirituality and faith in recovery from trauma, and in fostering mental health.
The objectives of this webinar are to:
  1. Effectively convey the importance of faith communities in health and recovery for refugees, immigrants, torture survivors, and others who have experienced trauma
  2. Connect spiritual practices such as yoga, meditation, and ritual to healing and community-building
  3. Equip providers with knowledge and tools useful in leveraging faith communities in the service of reaching out to torture survivors
  4. Embed best and promising practices for working with survivors of torture in the context of connecting with faith communities

[Read more…]

Information Guide: Understanding and Treating the Deleterious Effects of Refugee Trauma on Health

The National Partnership for Community Training is pleased to present the Information Guide:  Understanding and Treating the Deleterious Effects of Refugee Trauma on Health.

While relevant for all providers, this information guide is targeted particularly towards physicians and clinical practitioners. The guide outlines general principles for medical professionals working with survivors of torture, explaining common medical problems survivors may present, as well as how trauma somaticizes into illness. The guide provides tips for eliciting the trauma story from clients.

This information guide is based on research and modules presented at NPCT trainings developed by Dr. Allen Keller, MD, the Director of the NYU/Bellevue Program for Survivors of Torture and Dr. Richard Mollica MD, Director of the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma.

Download the information guide here

Watch Dr. Allen Keller’s webinar: Primary Care for Survivors of Torture and Refugee Trauma

Watch Dr. Richard Mollica’s webinar: Health Promotion for Torture and Trauma Survivors

Addressing Mental Health, PTSD, and Suicide in Refugee Communities webinar

Refugees face a broad range of challenges that can make them more susceptible to mental health difficulties, including PTSD, depression, and suicide. Awareness of Western medical-based diagnoses is fundamental, but providers must also be aware of the ways that distress is manifested or verbalized by their clients, and feel empowered to provide culturally appropriate treatment or referrals.

The objectives of this webinar are to:

  1. Enhance the capabilities of providers in recognizing and meeting refugee mental health needs,
  2. Assist social service providers in responding to recent increases in suicide attempts in the refugee community
  3. Present indicators, warning signs and prevalence of PTSD, depression, somaticization and suicidal ideation
  4. Present evidence-based interventions for addressing PTSD, depression, somatiicization and suicide

[Read more…]

Building Awareness, Skills & Knowledge: A Community Response to the Torture Survivor Experience

The National Partnership for Community Training, in collaboration with Lutheran Social Services South Dakota, will be hosting a training on September 10 -11, 2014 in Sioux Falls, SD for providers who serve the immigrant, refugee, asylee, and asylum-seeking populations.

Many professionals, such as social workers, teachers, doctors, nurses and mental health clinicians, may not have been trained in, and are generally unaware of, the specific issues, treatments and referral needs that survivors of torture can pose. 

This training includes presentations from a nationally-recognized expert in the torture treatment field from the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture and in the substance abuse treatment field from Florida International University.

There is no charge for the training, but registration is required.

Registration deadline has been extended to Friday, August 29, 2014 or when we reach capacity.

 CLICK HERE for more information.


Information Guide: Working with Refugees with PTSD

The National Partnership for Community Training is pleased to present the information guide: Working with Refugees with PTSD

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can manifest as a result of experiencing, witnessing, or perpetrating torture or trauma and is one of the most common mental health issues experienced by refugees.

This information guide is based on a webinar presented by Kristin L. Towhill, LCSW, a Florida Center for Survivors of Torture clinical supervisor.

Download the information guide here

View the webinar here

Download a PDF of the presentation slides here

Working with Refugees with PTSD

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can manifest as a result of experiencing, witnessing, or perpetrating torture or trauma. According to the CDC, PTSD along with Major Depression are the most common health issues experienced by refugees (2012).

The objectives of the webinar are to:

1. Enhance provider-client relationships and create more successful outcomes with refugees with PTSD
2. Provide an in-depth understanding of PTSD symptomatology and its impact on the survivor
3. Empower providers in making their own clinical decisions in the moment

[Read more…]

Making Specialized Referrals

NPCT is pleased to present the latest Information Guide, Making Specialized Referrals. This information guide assists in making effective and informed referrals by highlighting the process and the content needed to develop and maintain a referral network. Screenings and referrals are necessary in order to ensure the effective use of holistic treatment for torture survivors. Screenings are not meant to be diagnostic tools, but rather instruments to help identify medical or mental health cases that might need to be referred to professionals outside of your agency. This guide highlights some of the more popular screening instruments currently being used in the refugee trauma field.

Download the Information Guide here.

Substance Abuse and the Torture Survivor Experience – Information Guide

Survivors of torture are not more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol; however, alcohol and substance abuse often develop secondarily in torture survivors as a way of obliterating traumatic memories, regulating affect, and managing anxiety.

This information guide assists social service providers in better understanding the nature, course, prevention, and treatment of substance use problems; the link between substance abuse and trauma; the models used to explain problematic use; and clinical considerations for working with substance abusing clients. 

This information guide is based on the February 26, 2014 NPCT webinar, Substance Abuse and the Torture Survivor Experience.

Download the information guide: Substance Abuse and the Torture Survivor Experience

View the webinar

Download a PDF of the PowerPoint slides here

Strengthening the Congolese Community: Background, Resettlement, and Treatment – Information Guide

Congolese refugees have fled repeatedly over the last 15 years as various rebel groups have added to the unrest. As of January 2013, UNHCR reported over 509,000 Congolese refugees and 56,000 asylum seekers residing outside the country and approximately 2.6 million internally displaced people. Congolese refugees are not new to the US. About 13,000 Congolese have been resettled since 2001 with 65% of arrivals coming in the last four years.

This Information Guide offers some background and practical considerations for preparing for Congolese arrivals. In addition, this information guide offers a one page guide to a trauma informed and culturally syntonic approach to service provision, which assists in de-stigmatizing the Congolese and strengthens your role in helping them to become better contributing and functioning members of the community.

This Information Guide was based on the webinar, Strengthening the Congolese Community: Background, Resettlement, and Treatment, which was originally hosted by NPCT on December 11, 2013.

Download the Information Guide – Strengthening the Congolese Community: Background, Resettlement, and Treatment.

View the webinar.

Download a PDF of the PowerPoint slides here.

The International Rescue Committee has also released a Backgrounder on Congolese Women and Girls. Experiences of Refugee Women and Girls from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): Learning from IRC’s Women’s Protection and Empowerment Programs in DRC, Tanzania, Burundi, and Uganda.


Substance Abuse and the Torture Survivor Experience

The varying degrees of trauma experienced by refugees and torture survivors can have physical, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral effects. In order to cope, forget, or ignore the impact of violent conflict, flight, resettlement, and adjustment some refugees and torture survivors may turn to substance use.

The objectives of this webinar are to:

  1. introduce the theories and model pertaining to substance abuse
  2. offer guidance in identifying, diagnosing, referring, and treating substance abuse within the refugee and torture survivor community
  3. address the apprehension of some social service providers in addressing substance abuse
  4. address the stigma and cultural norms associated with substance abuse
  5. offer best practices for dealing with substance abuse

[Read more…]

Suicide Prevention Resources

Suicides can occur in every community, culture, and country. However, the suicide rate for Bhutanese refugees resettling in the U.S. is nearly three times as high as the average suicide rate in the U.S. according to the International Organization for Migration. In addition, suicide has become an epidemic, especially among youth in Bhutan. The Royal Bhutan Police reported that from 2010 to October 2013, 293 suicides were reported.

Among refugee populations resettled in the U.S., the sense of loss from leaving one’s family and culture, coupled with language learning and employment difficulties can further one’s sense of hopelessness. In addition, the feeling of inadequacy stemming from an inability to provide for one’s family, lessened social support, family and community conflict after resettlement, worries about family in the home country, and difficulty retaining ones cultural and religious beliefs and traditions are also risk factors.

As social service providers, we can effectively assist our clients by educating ourselves on the warning signs, knowing how and when to refer, introducing families to social and education opportunities, and ensuring that clients have someone to help with the resettlement process and the myriad of changes along the way.

In an effort to combat the rising suicide rate among the Bhutanese population in the U.S., the National Partnership for Community Training is pleased to offer the following resources on suicide prevention.


Strengthening the Congolese Community: Background, Resettlement, and Treatment

The ongoing refugee crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the result of almost 16 years of violent conflict and unrest. By the end of 2012, over 2.4 million Congolese had been internally displaced and close to 500,000 had become refugees*. Ongoing instability in what is considered one of the most violent and war torn regions in the world has led to large scale trauma and torture.

Since 2000, the United States has resettled almost 12,000** refugees from the DRC, which is comprised of 250 ethnic groups and 700 languages. The diversity of the DRC makes it difficult to generalize about the abilities of the Congolese refugees coming into the US; however this webinar offers some valuable background on the country and the conflict, up-to-date resettlement information, and best, promising, and emerging therapeutic practices. [Read more…]

Impact of NPCT TA’s work with mainstream providers: North Carolina to Offer Mental Health Screenings to Incoming Refugees

The National Partnership for Community Training (NPCT) is pleased to report on an NPCT E-learning project developed by course participant, Josh Hinson, a clinical instructor at the School of Social Work and program director of the Graduate Certificate in Global Transmigration at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. NPCT facilitates e-learning courses to increase the awareness and ability of mainstream providers to identify and serve refugees who have suffered severe trauma and torture.

After realizing the need for increased refugee mental health screenings upon arrival into the host country, Hinson responded by partnering with Church World Service resettlement staff in Durham, North Carolina to develop a screening procedure. The project will institute a method to identify severe mental health distress in newly arriving refugees and thereby develop a system of care for refugee mental health, including screening and referral to peer support groups, individual therapy, or community-based psychiatric care as appropriate.

Resettlement staff at Church World Service affiliate office CWS-RDU Immigration and Refugee Program will refer clients to Hinson’s project staff who are Masters of Social Work students for an intake screening using the RHS-15. Community Resource Coordinator at CWS-RDU, Kelly Cohen-Mazurowski, is thrilled to be able to offer mental health screenings to newly arrived refugee clients. In the past, clients were apprehensive about seeing a mental healthcare provider; however, now that clients have the opportunity to be screened in their homes with an interpreter present, there is a lot more openness to receiving mental health services. Cohen-Mazurowski explains “that many of the clients have received multiple home visits from Josh and his students and that they appreciate the opportunity to share their experiences and to have help in adjusting to life here in the United States”.

The project will use a three-tiered response system: refugees whose screening is below the RHS-15 cutoff will be offered the opportunity to participate in peer support groups; refugees above the cutoff will be offered individual and/or family therapy, and will be assessed for appropriateness for group sessions; refugees whose bio-psycho-social assessment indicates severe mental illness will be offered psychiatric case management and will be assessed for appropriateness for group and individual/family therapy. MSW students who are in clinical training will select and provide the most culturally appropriate, evidence-based, trauma-focused treatment modalities to provide individual, family, and group treatment and/or case management.

Beth Farmer of Pathways to Wellness at Lutheran Community Services Northwest will be contracted for consultation regarding use of the RHS-15. In addition, Hinson’s project will utilize the Health Promotion and Wellness Format, developed by Dr. Richard Mollica and Jim Lavelle at the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma, as well as Pathways to Wellness’ Community Adjustment Support Group Curriculum.

Hinson attributes NPCT’s E-learning course to providing the opportunity to be immersed in theory and research on best practices with refugee survivors of torture and trauma. In addition, the E-learning course gave him the networking “opportunity to partner with a local refugee resettlement organization and planted the seeds for our current refugee mental health initiative.” NPCT wishes Josh and his students continued success.

NPCT can help your city/state develop similar tools to help refugees who have experienced severe trauma and torture. Please contact us to be a part of the growing network of cities that are working effectively with survivors of torture through the technical assistance provided by NPCT.

Congolese Success Stories

The National Partnership for Community Training is pleased to present some recent success stories of Congolese refugees.

Charlotte Sews for Success in the Micro-enterprise Program

Charlotte Sews for Success in the Microenterprise ProgramCharlotte, a refugee originally from the Congo, is a skilled and trained tailor with more than twenty years experience in the tailoring business in Ethiopia and Congo. She also worked as a  teacher for a United Nations (UN) Sewing Project for Women in Ethiopia. Charlotte was resettled by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Tucson, Arizona in 2008 with her husband and four children. -excerpt taken from ORR




Providing for a Family of Seven

New Licensed Provider:  Violette Kalambayi

Violette is a  refugee who arrived in the United States from the Congo.  Violette is one of our most outgoing and expressive clients to date.  As a Certified Nursing Assistant, starting her own home-based childcare business was a natural fit.  Violette completed many hours of child care business training and passed all county, health and safety inspections perfectly.  She now boasts three enrolled children. – excerpt taken from ORR









Video address: Fidel Nshombo

“I am blessed as a refugee. Blessed as a citizen and I am blessed as a human being and even better I am blessed that I have been given the opportunity to come here after 15 years of tribulations and explore and extend my opportunities. But more better than that I have been blessed to be put in a neighborhood, in a city, where they support me from the bottom up, Boise, ID. From the street vendors who come and listen to me speak my poetry for hours to the governor who invites me to the big conferences. So I want to tell you this; the mayor has given me a space to help refugees, so I want you guys to go in your neighborhood, find the problems that refugees are facing, even though there is no funding, there is no money through agencies to support those programs. Be a volunteer and start that program on your own. Help those people and later if funding will ever be, it will be better, but don’t wait for money to help. Thank you and God bless you.” – Fidel – excerpt taken from ORR


And the winner of the Nansen Refugee Award, Sister Angélique Namaika

Sister Angélique Namaika, a 46-year-old Congolese Roman Catholic nun who has been working with displaced women and girls for a decade in the remote town of Dungu, in north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Sister Angélique assists displaced women and girls who have been forced from their homes by armed groups – including the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) – and helps them to pick up the pieces of their lives.

Refugee Mental Health Bibliography

This bibliography is an effort to compile prominent research and literature on refugee mental health, from general information to screening and assessment processes, effective interventions and best and promising practices in therapy, clinical treatment and culturally specific modalities. The purpose of this bibliography is to provide an available resource for scholars, researchers, service providers, students, and community members who work and provide care to refugees and asylum seekers.

Refugee Mental Health Bibliography

Group Treatment at the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture: Rationale, Processes and Development

The Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture (PSOT) has been among the leaders at providing supportive and culturally syntonic group interventions for their client base of torture survivors and traumatized refugees for the past 16 years.  One of PSOT’s pioneering group therapists, Dr. Hawthorne Smith, speaks about the rationale behind the initial group interventions at PSOT. He describes some of the techniques and processes that have helped make the group modality one of the more successful methods of service provision at this clinic. He discusses ways in which group participation has facilitated further program involvement by clients in other domains. He also describes the more recent development of a psycho-educational orientation group for newly arrived PSOT clients. A description of challenges and responsibilities for the group leader segues into a discussion of future directions for this promising modality of treatment. [Read more…]

United Nations – World Refugee Day 2013

There are over 43.7 million refugees and internally displaced people around the world. World Refugee Day was established by the United Nations to honor the courage, strength and determination of women, men and children who are forced to flee their homes under threat of persecution, conflict and violence.

Join us at the Stephen P. Clark Government Center Building Lobby, 111 NW 1st St. in Miami, FL on Friday, June 14th from 10:00 AM -2:30 PM

This event is free to the public and will include Presentation of Proclamations, Children’s Activities, Music, Resources, Networking, and Awards

For more information download the flyer in English or in Espanol

Information Guide: Emergency and Psychological Preparedness: Supporting Survivors and Ourselves During Crises

Many torture survivors are affected by emergency situations. The first thing to remember is that we have a common bond with our clients, because we are all affected in one way or another. This information guide recommends how to prepare and respond to the emotional and physical effects on with survivors of torture and trauma.

The information guide is based on an NPCT webinar presented by Richard Mollica, M.D., M.A.R. This webinar was made in collaboration with the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma and the  National Capacity Building Project at the  Center for Victims of Torture.

Download the Information Guide: Emergency and Psychological Preparedness: Supporting Survivors and Ourselves During Crises

View the webinar:

UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

The Florida Center for Survivors of Torture and The Florida Holocaust Museum
cordially invites you to the Tampa Bay premiere of the documentary
Beneath the Blindfold on Wednesday, June 26th, 2013 at 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Click for more information on “Beneath the Blindfold” or to download the flyer

Beneath the Blindfold

Helping refugees find peace and promising futures

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Maria’s Success Story* Florida Center for Survivors of Torture, Sabine Balmir-Derenoncourt

This month the Florida Center for Survivors of Torture celebrated the graduation of one of our client’s from our program. When this Cuban born woman walked into the office she was homeless, lost, confused, alone, in conflict with her family, in need of medication and in desperate need of help. In Cuba, she and some close family members had been diagnosed with mental health disorders. Maria spent a long time in and out of psychiatric institutions. Each time she was readmitted, she was forcibly separated from her family. She stated, “The things they do to you, it’s so hard, it makes you crazy”. According to research, many counter-revolutionaries were involuntarily admitted to psychiatric institutions and forcibly ‘treated’.

Growing up, Maria stated that she was a victim of lifelong persecution.  Her family was internally displaced because of the political activities of her father, and the religious beliefs of the family, who are Jehovah’s Witnesses. Her father was removed from employment and sent to the country side to a forced labor camp. The client was removed from school and employment. She stated that she and her family were constant victims of acts of repudiation.

Each day staff at the Florida Center for Survivors of Torture learn valuable lessons from the survivors with whom we work. They each have a way of impacting our lives and some may mark our hearts forever. Maria worked closely with the program coordinator, Sabine Balmir-Derenoncourt. For a while, she was all Sabine could think about. According to Sabine, at first it was because of the urge that we all have to find a way to help. Eventually it was because she became an example of strength and resilience to follow. The person that walked into the office was unable to trust anything or anyone. However, Sabine built rapport with her and developed trust. She refused the assistance of other program staff and requested to work with Sabine.

Staff at the Florida Center for Survivors of Torture understand that torture survivors often feel as if they cannot trust anyone. The program coordinator adjusted her responsibilities to ensure that she could meet the case management needs of this individual. It took several days, but eventually Maria was persuaded to stay in a shelter. 24 hours after she arrived at the shelter, Maria ran away. She could not bear to stay inside the shelter. The walls around it reminded her of her past. She felt locked up all over again. After days of explaining that the walls were meant to protect her while inside and not to harm her, she accepted to return to the shelter. She promised to call Sabine if she felt the urge to “run” again. And she called. Maria called early in the morning. She called late at night. She called on the weekends and she called during the holidays. Every time she was told:  “wait just a little bit more, this shelter leads to permanent housing, just a little more so you can get your place”.

Together, Maria and Sabine would visualize ‘her’ place and what she would do there. The program coordinator often told her that she could see this survivor drinking a cup of coffee on her sofa, which made the client smile. In November of 2011, after much advocacy from the FCST staff, this client was moved to a supervised subsidized permanent housing. FCST staff celebrated! ! One year later, Maria graduated from the program emotionally, psychologically, socially, and financially stable. She is fully engaged with her church and family. She attends regular group counseling.

Maria has befriended the entire FCST staff. Her graduation was celebrated by all of us. She is missed by Sabine and all of the FCST team.

*name has been changed to protect confidentiality