Saturday, January 31st, 2015


Through these Webinars you can learn more about important issues in the torture treatment field, hear leaders in the field discuss effective interventions, and gain an understanding of challenges faced by survivors of torture.

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

This webinar is presented by Elizabeth Power, M. Ed., an internationally known and respected facilitator in the world of creating communities that are trauma-informed and trauma-responsive. She speaks from the voice of lived experience with trauma. Her firm, EPower & Associates, is an authorized provider of Sidran Institute’s Risking Connection® curriculum, which she presented to over 300 organizations and faith communities in the last ten years. Additionally, she has provided services for a five year SAMHSA grant promoting the transformation to trauma-informed care in King County Washington’s mental health service delivery system, developed the Trauma-Responsive Systems Implementation Advisor (TReSIA) model, delivered training to traditional people in Hawaii and Navajoland, and provided support for the development of programs working with indigenous people.

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

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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

This webinar is presented by Kristin L. Towhill, LCSW, a psychotherapist who serves as the Clinical Supervisor at the Florida Center for Survivors of Torture. She has worked extensively with clients with trauma and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder from torture, combat, and sexual abuse and assault. She has presented to a range of professionals, laypeople, and students on PTSD, complex trauma, dissociative disorders, and diversity.

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Download the Information Guide: Suicide Precaution: How to Identify When Levels of Sadness or Depression are a Concern

Download the Information Guide: Substance Abuse and the Torture Survivor Experience

Download the Information Guide: Working with Refugees with PTSD

View the webinar: Working with Refugees with PTSD

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

The presenter is:

Kristen Towhill, LCSW, is a Clinical Supervisor at the Florida Center for Survivors of Torture. Ms. Towhill has worked extensively with clients with trauma and PTSD from torture, combat, and sexual abuse and assault. She has presented to a wide range of professionals and students on PTSD, complex trauma, dissociative disorders, and diversity.

This webinar was developed in conjunction with the Ethiopian Community Development Council.

Download the accompanying Information Guide: Working with Refugees with PTSD

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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

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DRC opening slide

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…]

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

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.

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Dr. Akinsulure-Smith

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.

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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…]

health promo

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.

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Dr Keller

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.

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Dr. Richard Mollica’s webinar on Emergency and Psychological Preparedness: Supporting Survivors and Ourselves During Crises

Many patients and staff have been affected by the tragic events in Boston. The first thing to remember is that we have a common bond with our clients/patients, because we are all affected in one way or another. The presenter, Dr. Richard Mollica recommends how to prepare for and respond to the emotional and physical effects when working with survivors of torture and trauma.

In addition, the webinar, “Emergency and Psychological Preparedness: Supporting Survivors and Ourselves During Crises” addresses emergency preparedness and how agency staff can assist clients with their physical and psychological needs when an emergency occurs. The presenter has vast experience in responding to similar tragic events, the effects on individuals previously affected by violence, and the best practices in responding to the symptoms of retraumatization.

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Dr Richard Mollica’s Webinar on The Integrated Health And Mental Approach To The Care Of Torture Survivors

In this webinar Dr. Richard Mollica, director of the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma, discussed how there is a deep human reality that lies at the heart of violent experiences that must play a central role in healing and recovery. This webinar will present a toolkit for addressing these life experiences and healing the wounds of mass violence by focusing on the patient’s mental health and physical needs.

Dr. Mollica will discuss the 11 point toolkit which includes diagnosis and treatment, reinforcing self-healing, reducing high risk behaviors and preventing burnout.

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overcoming a violent past

Serena Chaudhry’s Webinar on Overcoming A Violent Past: Understanding the Prevalence of Domestic Violence in Post Conflict Communities

The connections between community violence abroad and domestic violence in the United States are evident by the experiences of domestic violence that some refugee families experience. This webinar will explore how the violence experienced and witnessed abroad integrates itself into the day-to-day lives of refugees, asylum seekers and torture survivors in the United States. The presenter, Serena Chaudhry, will use a case example to explain how the resettlement process can present increased challenges for the structure and well-being of the family.  At the end of the webinar participants will be able to identify commonly associated symptoms such as depression and anxiety, be introduced to possible interventions and learn how to facilitate a cross-cultural conversation regarding domestic violence. [Read more…]


Kristen Guskovict’s Webinar on “Identifying and Reinforcing Resiliency in Torture Survivors”

Much has been talked about the idea of resiliency and trauma. What exactly is resiliency and self-sufficiency? How do we recognize it, define it, promote it and measure it while working with traumatized individuals and torture survivors?

Kristen Guskovict will discuss what resiliency looks like in trauma survivors, and the personal resources that facilitate it.

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