Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

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

The presenters are:

Eric F. Wagner, Ph.D., Director of Florida International University’s Community Based Intervention Research Group

Richard Mollica, M.D., M.A.R., Director of the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School

Click the slide below to view the webinar.

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Download a PDF of the slides here.

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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.

Dr. Hawthorne Smith’s Webinar on 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.

Download a PDF of the slides here

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Group Treatment Information Guide

Dr. Richard Mollica’s Webinar: “The Trauma Story: An Empathic and Therapeutic Conversation with the Survivor”

This Webinar focuses on learning a simple culture base and scientific techniques for listening to and using the trauma story therapeutically in all social services and health care settings. Dr. Richard Mollica outlines the scientific basis of the therapeutic power of personal disclosure and the trauma narrative. Offered is a simple approach to listening to and using the trauma story in all social service and health services while learning the therapeutic power of self-healing and the survivor as a teacher framework.

[Read more...]

Dr. Akinsulure-Smith’s Webinar: “Sexual Violence as a Tool of Torture and Weapon During Conflict”

This Webinar gives a background of sexualized violence as a form of torture and the significant impact and consequences of this type of violence on survivors. The great challenges survivors of this type of violence face are offered as well as treatment options and considerations.

[Read more...]

Kate Porterfield’s Webinar – “Working Clinically with Traumatized Refugee Children and Families”

In this webinar, Dr. Porterfield will discuss the effects of war trauma and violence on refugee children and their families and how service providers can assess and intervene with these families.

This webinar will use a case presentation of a traumatized refugee family from Kosovo to illustrate basic principles of assessment and intervention for those who work directly with refugee families.

[Read more...]

26 June Global Report Featuring FSCT

Click here to read the Global Report on the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture which provides information about the activities that take place worldwide in connection with this June 26th event. FCST is featured on Page 40.

Dr. Richard Mollica’s Webinar: “Health Promotion for Torture and Trauma Survivors”

In this webinar Dr. Richard Mollica, director of the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma, discussed how refugees, immigrants and asylum seekers who have experienced extreme violence and torture are now demonstrating serious chronic illness such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and stroke in countries of resettlement. This webinar helps participants to understand how health promotion can help our clients learn what a health curriculum looks like, learn how to educate clients about healthy lifestyles including how to talk with their doctors about their concerns. Key points addressed include: understanding the impact of traumatic life experiences on one’s physical health, understanding that impact within the cultural context, and learning how the promotion of preventative care and healthy lifestyles early on can have a positive impact in the lives of clients.

[Read more...]

Dr. Allen Keller’s Webinar: “Primary Care for Survivors of Torture and Refugee Trauma”

This webinar discusses the three dimensional and interrelated health consequences of torture and the immense importance of primary care for survivors of torture and refugee trauma. Dr. Allen Keller discusses how primary care providers will encounter survivors who may present with a variety of medical, psychological and social health needs and concerns.

[Read more...]