Torture Rehabilitation | Page 15 | The Center for Victims of Torture

Healing and Human Rights: A Blog by the Center for Victims of Torture

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For World Mental Health Day 2015, Ann Willhoite, CVT clinical advisor, comments on the importance of mental health care as part of the humanitarian response for survivors of torture as they work to restore their dignity and their lives.

Veronica Lavet

After building a sense of safety and confidence in the survivors during the first three counseling sessions, we slowly enter the trauma processing phase of the group cycle. In session four, we have them first imagine themselves as birds flying over rivers that represent their lives. They draw their rivers of life, starting with birth, placing symbols and labels for traumatic events and for times when life was calm or happy.

Veronica Lavet

With trauma, we often lose touch of our bodies. Our breathing and body movements contract, which reduces our ability to cope. With a focused attention breathing exercise, we are helping survivors learn how to calm their thoughts and emotions by paying attention to their breathing. The body map exercise deepens survivors’ awareness of where trauma “lives” in the body and how to use coping strategies and strengths to help counteract the physical and emotional pain.

With trauma, we often lose touch of our bodies. Our breathing and body movements contract, which reduces our ability to cope. With a focused attention breathing exercise, we are helping survivors learn how to calm their thoughts and emotions by paying attention to their breathing. The body map exercise deepens survivors’ awareness of where trauma “lives” in the body and how to use coping strategies and strengths to help counteract the physical and emotional pain. - See more at: http://www.cvt.org/blog/healing-and-human-rights/jordan-counseling-group...With trauma, we often lose touch of our bodies. Our breathing and body movements contract, which reduces our ability to cope. With a focused attention breathing exercise, we are helping survivors learn how to calm their thoughts and emotions by paying attention to their breathing. The body map exercise deepens survivors’ awareness of where trauma “lives” in the body and how to use coping strategies and strengths to help counteract the physical and emotional pain. - See more at: http://www.cvt.org/blog/healing-and-human-rights/jordan-counseling-group...

Annie Sovcik, director of CVT's Washington, D.C., office, shares her thoughts on being among those in attendance at the White House reception for Pope Francis.

Veronica Lavet

In this session, as we continue to build safety and stability in the group, we aim to draw out survivors’ internal strengths and external resources to counteract the unhelpful tunnel thinking that keeps traumatized people in a state of despair. After reviewing the grounding exercise that helps survivors feel more stable in their bodies and returns them to the present moment, the facilitators use a table metaphor to demonstrate how the more “table legs” one can develop (internal and external resources), the easier it is to carry the burdens on the table.

Veronica Lavet

In our international projects, our healing work for torture and war trauma survivors is conducted through group counseling. Groups typically meet for ten weeks. This is the first in a series of posts following the counseling group cycle in Jordan.

Veronica Laveta is CVT’s clinical advisor for the Jordan project.

Read other entries in this series.

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Jenni Bowring-McDonough, CVT media relations manager, comments on the critical and growing need for mental health and psychosocial support services in response to the ongoing refugee crisis.

Ben Kohler

It was in the early 1980s that Ben Kohler read about Governor Rudy Perpich’s proposal to create a center for torture survivors. “I learned about the center before it was even a center.”  He remembers reading articles and letters in the newspaper in opposition to the idea and his sense of shock. “I just couldn’t understand how anyone could oppose something so good and so needed.”  It motivated him to start supporting CVT’s work shortly after it became a reality.

Judy Twala

Judith Twala, MA, is a psychotherapist/trainer with the Center for Victims of Torture in Dadaab, Kenya. Dadaab is the world’s largest refugee camp in the northeast region of Kenya, close to the Somali border. Most refugees in this complex of camps are from Somalia with others from South Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and other countries.

 

As a psychotherapist /trainer with the CVT Dadaab project, I have been interacting with war and torture survivors from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Ethiopia, Southern Sudan and Somalia for more than two years. Though from different mother countries, these survivors share one thing in common and that is ambiguous loss.

CVT Volunteer Mary Healy

Mary Healy’s involvement with CVT began with her appreciation of the beautiful yards highlighted in CVT fundraising Healing Garden tours in the 1990s. “I’m a fantasy gardener,” she explains. On one visit, she picked up a brochure about CVT and was intrigued to learn about its work in the Twin Cities. She volunteered to be a host at the next garden tour, and quickly became active in other roles. Beginning with New Tactics in Human Rights and continuing as a befriender, volunteer coordinator, and other roles, she has contributed to CVT for over 15 years.

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