Group Treatment for Survivors of Torture and Severe Trauma: A Literature Review

Literature review coauthored by The National Capacity Building Project at the Center for Victims of Torture, the National Partnership for Community Training at Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services, and an expert in the torture rehabilitation field. The review was published in the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims' peer-reviewed Torture Journal (Vol. 26 No. 1).  
Group treatment is an approach that can be used with larger groups of survivors and addresses a range of treatment issues. The authors examined key clinical practice issues for group treatment, including group composition and content, facilitation, and measurement strategies. The article points to a growing interest in the topic of group treatment for survivors of torture and severe violence, providing a comprehensive picture of group-based interventions, and highlighting the need for additional research and knowledge-building.

Types of Groups

The authors reviewed literature describing a variety of group interventions for survivors of torture, including:
  • Supportive Group Therapy
  • Empowerment Workshops
  • Group Treatment for Sleep Disorders
  • Den Bosch Model
  • Wraparound Approach
  • Stage-Oriented Model

About the Authors 

Mary Bunn, MA, LCSW has extensive experience developing and delivering rehabilitative services for survivors of torture and severe violence in the U.S and in post-conflict and humanitarian settings in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Previously Associate Director and staff therapist at Heartland Alliance Marjorie Kovler Center, Ms. Bunn now works as the mental health technical advisor for Heartland Alliance International developing trauma-informed mental health programming for communities impacted by violence, trauma and chronic adversity. Ms. Bunn is currently a doctoral student at the University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration where she is also an adjunct faculty member and teaches coursework on international trauma-focused practice for violence-affected communities. Her scholarly interests include mental health intervention research for survivors of conflict and severe violence and the role of paraprofessionals and community based workers in mental health service delivery. Ms. Bunn currently works with Dr. Miwa Yasui on a research study of Asian immigrant and refugee communities, exploring culturally-specific definitions of mental health and access and engagement in mental health service. She is also the co-principal investigator of a quantitative study examining the consequences of torture among survivors of torture in Southern Thailand.
Charles Goesel, MA was formerly the Content Coordinator for the National Partnership for Community Training at Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services. Mr. Goesel is a PhD candidate in Conflict Analysis and Resolution at Nova Southeastern University, where he is researching the lived experience of Syrian refugees. He is currently the lead editor on a Handbook of Mediation, which includes submissions from over 50 thought leaders, practitioners, and educators in the mediation field. He also has extensive experience teaching English as Second Language both domestically and internationally. In addition, Mr. Goesel has an M.A. in Liberal Studies with a concentration in History from Valparaiso University. He graduated from Indiana University with a B.A., majoring in English and minoring in History and Philosophy. 
Mélodie Kinet, MPH, MBA is the Director for the National Partnership for Community Training Program at Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services. Ms. Kinet has worked with refugees and torture survivors in various capacities across the world. After receiving her BA in medical anthropology from the University of Chicago, she worked with the International Criminal Tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania and with the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. Interested in the intersection of multilateral international organizations with national grassroots efforts, she then worked with survivors in Bolivia, and helped to operate a refugee camp and field hospital in Haiti. Ms. Kinet received a Masters of Public Health and an MBA from Johns Hopkins University, and worked in healthcare consulting in the US, then moved on to consulting for a health tech start-up in New Delhi, India. Ms. Kinet relocated to Miami in 2013 and has been involved in local efforts around social innovation.
Faith Ray is the Manager of the National Capacity Building Project at the Center for Victims of Torture and is based in Washington, D.C. The Project provides technical assistance and specialized training to 43 torture rehabilitation programs in 23 states. Ms. Ray is the chief contact with the Office of Refugee Resettlement and manages a National Advisory Council of torture rehabilitation and refugee resettlement professionals. In her role, she provides oversight to the Project and guides the strategic objectives into day-to-day operations. Prior to joining CVT, Ms. Ray worked in direct services with refugees and torture survivors for seven years. Her experience in human rights includes serving as a clinical case manager at Advocates for Survivors of Torture and Trauma; managing a workforce development and training program for refugees in Baltimore; and teaching ESL in Baltimore City Community College’s refugee program. Ms. Ray has also worked as a technical writer, an ESL instructor and textbook editor in Japan, and an editor and writer for a daily newspaper. Ms. Ray graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a BA in News-Editorial Journalism and Mass Communication.


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