Publications | Center for Victims of Torture


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Order CVT’s Restoring Hope and Dignity Manual for Group Counseling here.

Reports & Publications

Human Rights Advocacy Evaluation in the Global South: A Critical Review of the Literature
As advocacy evaluation continues to emerge as a specialized area, Dr. Jennifer Esala, CVT research associate, Dr. Craig Higson-Smith, CVT director of evaluation & research, Kirsten Anderson, formerly with CVT, and Liz Sweitzer from CU Denver, published an article in the American Journal of Evaluation. The authors provide recommendations and a literature review to draw attention to the scarcity of scholarly work on human rights advocacy evaluation in the Global South.

Mental Health in an Unequal World: Together We Can Make a Difference
In his role as vice president, Constituency Development, at the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH), Michael Kamau Kariuki, psychotherapist/trainer with CVT Ethiopia and formerly with Kenya, participated in the UN’s call to action for World Mental Health Day. As part of this event, Michael served as co-author of this article, together with Ingrid Daniels, Johannes John-Langba and Charlene Sunke. He also provided a testimonial here, writing, “As a mental health professional, l encourage all of us to join hands in this noble walk.”

How Therapeutic Justice Centres the Needs of Survivors in Justice Initiatives
This article by Debra L. DeLaet with Drake University, and CVT staff Shannon Golden, Ph.D., research associate, and Veronica Laveta, LCSW, MA, clinical advisor for mental health, was published on LSE, London School of Economics and Political Science, as part of the WPS Forum on Gender, Global Health and Violence: Feminist perspectives on peace and disease. The authors write that “therapeutic justice initiatives that centre healing for

Programming to Address Suicidal Behaviour among Unaccompanied Refugee Minors in a Camp Setting: A Field Report from Ethiopia
Members of the CVT Ethiopia team published this article in Intervention Journal, writing about the program they developed in response to an increase in suicidal ideation among Eritrean refugee minors in the camps. Authors include Medhanye Alem, psychotherapist/trainer, Sandra Githaiga, clinical programs director, Esayas Kiflom, monitoring & evaluation officer, and Liyam Eloul, clinical advisor.

Arbitrary & Cruel: How U.S. Immigration Detention Violates the Convention against Torture and Other International Obligations
This CVT backgrounder illustrates how the dehumanizing and cruel policies and practices in the U.S. immigration detention system lead to violations of the Convention against Torture, and makes the case that the system must be eliminated in order for the United States to comply with international law. 
Author of the report, Taylor Koehler, Esq., CVT public policy fellow, writes, “The current system’s defects are structural and pervasive to a degree that the system must be phased out entirely to bring the United States into compliance with its international legal obligations.” Click here to download the backgrounder.

Assessing Refugee Mental Health in Tigray, Ethiopia: A Representative Survey of Adi Harush and Mai Ayni Camps
In January 2020, CVT carried out a mental health assessment in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, surveying adults who lived in the Adi Harush and Mai Ayni refugee camps. Authors Sarah Peters, Ph.D., program evaluation advisor, and Shannon Golden, Ph.D, research associate, had the goal to understand the needs and perspectives of Eritrean refugees in order to inform mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) service providers and other stakeholders in designing interventions responsive to the needs of the population. Click here to download the report.

Publications in Intervention Journal
“A Field Report on the Pilot Implementation of Problem Management Plus with Lay Providers in an Eritrean Refugee Setting in Ethiopia”
This report covers a pilot training program that was conducted with paraprofessionals working with Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia, focused on skills and delivery of the Problem Management Plus (PM+) intervention, which focuses on mental health needs in humanitarian crises, including COVID response. Authors Frezgi Gebrekristos, MA, EQUIP focal person, CVT Ethiopia-Tigray; Liyam Eloul, MA, clinical advisor; and Shannon Golden, PH.D., research associate; write about the project and lessons learned. Download the PDF here.

“Development of a Tool to Assess Competencies of Problem Management Plus Facilitators Using Observed Standardised Role Plays: The EQUIP Competency Rating Scale for Problem Management Plus”
This report describes work completed to develop a structured competency rating tool for use with implementation of Problem Management Plus (PM+), an intervention for mental health needs in humanitarian emergencies, including COVID response. The authors write about their use of standardized role plays used for assessment, as well as the training and supervision needed for successful measures and implementation. Among the report authors are CVT staff including Frezgi Gebrekristos, MA, EQUIP focal person, CVT Ethiopia-Tigray; Liyam Eloul, MA, clinical advisor; and Shannon Golden, PH.D., research associate. Download the PDF here.

Physiotherapy-related Publications in Torture Journal
CVT physiotherapy staff published three papers about aspects of their work in the February 2021 issue of Torture Journal. The first paper, “Group Physiotherapy with Survivors of Torture in Urban and Camp Settings in Jordan and Kenya,” summarizes the physiotherapy-related results from more than 1,000 clients over the last 2+ years, since CVT began implementing the current physiotherapy assessment tool. The article was authored by Laura Pizer Gueron, PT, MPH, DPT, physical therapy clinical advisor, CVT Kenya; Arobogust Amoyi, PT, CVT Nairobi; Winnie Chao, PT, physiotherapist, CVT Kakuma; Justine Chepngetich, PT, physiotherapist, CVT Kakuma; Jepkemoi Joanne Kibet, PT, MS, doctoral candidate, physiotherapist/trainer CVT Nairobi; Stephen Nyambok, PT, CVT Nairobi; and Joseph Wesonga, PT, MPH, physiotherapist/trainer, CVT Kalobeyei.

The second paper, titled, “International Survey of the Utilisation in Treatment Centers for Survivors of Torture,” examines the findings of a 2014 survey of treatment centers for survivors of torture and the availability of physiotherapy as a therapeutic option. This paper is authored by Laura Pizer Gueron, PT, MPH, DPT, physical therapy clinical advisor, CVT Kenya, & MaryAnn de Ruiter, PT, former physiotherapy clinical advisor, CVT Jordan.

The third paper, “Collaborative Effort to Increase the Physiotherapist’s Competency in Rehabilitation of Torture Survivors,” describes the benefits of collaboration, topics critical to physiotherapists working with survivors of torture and important next steps for the physiotherapy field. CVT authors Ilona Fricker, clinical advisor for physiotherapy, CVT Jordan, and Sarah Peters, Ph.D., program evaluation advisor, contributed insight drawn from conducting a physiotherapy-focused needs assessment with two Jordan universities.  

Designing a Trauma-Informed Asylum System in the United States
CVT released this report outlining concrete steps the Biden/Harris administration should implement to build a genuinely trauma-informed asylum system. Read a summary here and the full report here.

Assessing Mental Health in Bidi Bidi, Uganda: A Representative Survey of South Sudanese Refugees in Zone 5.
CVT published this report of findings from a needs assessment conducted in Bidi Bidi refugee settlement in March 2019. Authors Raghda Elshafie, program evaluation advisor, and Shannon Golden, Ph.D., research associate, completed the study to inform mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) service providers and other stakeholders in designing interventions responsive to the needs of the population.

Intensive Psychotherapy and Case Management for Karen Refugees with Major Depression in Primary Care: A Pragmatic Randomized Control Trial
A major study by the Healing Hearts team was published at BMC Family Practice journal in 2020, demonstrating the positive impacts of CVT’s care. When CVT extended care to refugee survivors of torture in primary care, clients saw significant improvements in mental health symptoms, including, “. . . depression, PTSD, anxiety, and pain symptoms and in social functioning at all time points, with magnitude of improvement increasing over time.” Read the press release here.

Organizational Development with Torture Rehabilitation Programs: An Applied Perspective
In this article, authors Kristi Rendahl, organizational development consultant, and  Pamela Kriege Santoso, CVT project manager, Partners in Trauma Healing (PATH) Project, explore key organizational development needs in the field of torture rehabilitation, areas of future consideration for international agency donors, and additional future considerations for torture rehabilitation programs themselves. Published in Torture journal, the article is available here.

Assessing Mental Health in Gambella, Ethiopia: A Representative Survey of South Sudanese Refugees in Nguenyyiel Camp
CVT Ethiopia carried out a mental health assessment of Nguenyyiel Refugee Camp, Gambella, in January 2019 in order to understand the needs and perspectives of South Sudanese refugees to inform mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) service providers and other stakeholders in designing interventions. Read the report here.

Deprivation and Despair: The Crisis of Medical Care at Guantánamo
CVT and Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) launched this joint report detailing widespread medical deficiencies at the Guantánamo Bay detention center. Read the press release and landing page here.


Improving Well-Being for Refugees in Primary Care: A Toolkit for Providers
CVT’s Healing Hearts program uses a holistic, team-based approach to bring specialized care to Karen clients in primary care settings. The team’s comprehensive manual gives providers the necessary tools to improve treatment plans for patients who have lived through traumatic experiences. Order the toolkit here.

Assessing Mental Health in Kalobeyei: A Representative Survey of Refugees and Host Communities
In this second of two reports, author Shannon Golden, Ph.D., research associate, presents the findings from a mental health assessment of refugee and host community residents in Kalobeyei, Kenya. A survey was conducted to understand needs and perspectives in order to inform mental health and psychosocial support service providers and other stakeholders in designing interventions responsive and proportional to the needs of the populations. Read the report here.

Eight Facts about Refugees and Asylum Seekers
Over more than three decades, CVT has witnessed extraordinary healing, courage and resilience among clients, while at the same time we have seen confusion and misunderstanding from many in the public about the lives and challenges faced by refugees and asylum seekers. To help clarify misconceptions and shed light on the realities of the lives of torture survivors, CVT has published eight facts that we hope will help dispel some of the myths about who refugees and asylum seekers really are. Read all Eight Facts about Refugees and Asylum Seekers here.

Torture: Causes, Consequences, and Strategies for Redress and Prevention
Shannon Golden, Ph.D., CVT research associate, contributed the above-titled chapter to Global Agenda for Social Justice, edited by Glenn W. Muschert, Kristen M. Budd, Michelle Christian, Brian V. Klocke, Jon Shefner, and Robert Perrucci (Policy Press, 2018). She notes, “This chapter briefly presents torture as a pressing contemporary global social problem and highlights key areas of empirical evidence around the issue, including research about consequences of torture, efficacy of rehabilitation, causes of torture, and the rise of the anti-torture movement. Recommendations are offered for how to both help realize survivors’ right to redress and to prevent the ongoing use of torture.” Access the publication here.

Integrated Behavioral Health Care for Karen Refugees: A Qualitative Exploration of Active Ingredients
A paper has been published in the International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care, written by Jennifer Esala, Ph.D., former CVT research associate; Leora Hudak, MSW, LICSW, psychotherapist; Alyce Eaton, former CVT research coordinator; and Maria Vukovich, Ph.D., research associate. CVT’s Healing Hearts project explores how integrated behavioral health care (IBHC) can effectively address the needs of Karen refugee clients, showing success across a number of important criteria: participants increased their awareness and access to behavioral health services, increased their opportunity to have complex health conditions treated, and found a beneficial point of contact for care. Here is an article introducing the paper; the full article can be purchased here.

Towards a Contextually Appropriate Framework to Guide Counseling of Torture Survivors in Sub-Saharan Africa
A paper co-authored by Craig Higson-Smith, CVT research director, was published in Torture Journal, describing the importance of therapeutic interventions that go beyond a focus solely on past trauma. The authors noted that along with work on trauma, clients “need assistance in dealing with immediate problems with important consequences for their survival.” Here is an article introducing the paper, and the full paper is available here.

Assessing Refugee Mental Health in Ethiopia: A Representative Survey of Adi Harush and Mai Ayni Camps
CVT published this report of findings of an assessment of refugee mental health conducted in two camps in Northern Ethiopia, where CVT has extended rehabilitative care since 2013. This report, authored by Shannon Golden, Ph.D., CVT research associate, provides key findings from 548 individuals regarding knowledge and attitudes about mental health, stressors and symptoms, coping strategies and reports of mental health concerns with loved ones or household members. Download the full report here.

Collaborative Care for Refugees and Torture Survivors: Key Findings from the Literature
It’s time for more research on the value of collaborative care in addressing the needs of refugees and torture survivors, according to a report published in Traumatology. CVT researchers and colleagues conducted a comprehensive review of existing literature in the field of collaborative care, which is a multi-disciplinary approach to health care. Learn more about the report here or purchase the full paper here.

Assessing Mental Health in Humanitarian Emergencies: A Representative Survey by the Center for Victims of Torture in Kalobeyei, Kenya
This mental health survey of refugee and host communities in and around the Kakuma refugee camps of northern Kenya reveals similarities and differences between the two groups and establishes baseline data to aid in meeting trauma rehabilitation needs. CVT’s representative survey, conducted over several weeks in November 2016, collected information from 239 recently-arrived refugees and 84 members of the host community in and around the Kalobeyei settlement of the Kakuma refugee camps. CVT will readminister the survey annually as the settlement grows, launching the second survey in January 2018. Download the report here.

Enforced Disappearances: Ambiguity Haunts the Families of Iraq’s Missing
Disappearances create an ambiguous loss, a category of loss for which there is no closure or verification. In this paper, CVT explores this sometimes overlooked human rights violation and its impacts on Iraqi torture survivors.
Download the full paper here.
Download an Arabic language version of the paper here.

Restoring Hope and Dignity: Manual for Group Counseling
CVT’s Restoring Hope and Dignity manual describes CVT's group counseling model and contains detailed principles, instructions and exercises. The model described in this manual is intended for use in humanitarian or low-resourced settings with individuals who are experiencing marked distress and reduced daily function due to having experienced extreme stress related to war, torture or human rights violations. The specialized therapeutic intervention outlined in this manual is a 10-session group counseling model that should be delivered by trained local counselors who are receiving ongoing clinical supervision and training. Order CVT’s Restoring Hope and Dignity manual here.

Updating the Estimate of Refugees Resettled in the United States Who Have Suffered Torture
Based on an analysis of previous research studies, CVT has concluded that the number of refugee torture survivors in the U.S. is much higher than previously reported. A meta-analysis of existing studies led CVT to estimate a refugee torture prevalence rate as high as 44 percent – significantly higher than previous estimates. Read CVT's report here.

Reclaiming Hope, Dignity and Respect
CVT's report Reclaiming Hope, Dignity and Respect: Syrian and Iraqi Torture Survivors in Jordan, the product of two years of in-person interviews and study, is based on the stories of 64 men, women and children who either faced torture in their home countries or had close family members tortured and are working to rebuild their lives. Download the full report.

Tortured & Detained: Survivor Stories of U.S. Immigration Detention
This report describes the immigration detention experience for torture survivors seeking asylum protection in the United States. Download the full report.

Healing the Hurt: A Guide for Developing Services for Torture Survivors
Developed for practitioners who may or may not have worked previously with torture survivors, Healing the Hurt is a multidisciplinary guide that addresses some basic considerations when working with this population. The manual is available for download by chapter. 

Healing the Hurt: Introduction
Healing the Hurt: Chapter 1
Healing the Hurt: Chapter 2
Healing the Hurt: Chapter 3
Healing the Hurt: Chapter 4
Healing the Hurt: Chapter 5
Healing the Hurt: Chapter 6
Healing the Hurt: Chapter 7
Healing the Hurt: Chapter 8
Healing the Hurt: Appendix

Healing the Hurt - Korean (18 MB)
Thank you to the Gwangju Trauma Center in South Korea for translating Healing the Hurt.

Helping Refugee Trauma Survivors in the Primary Care Setting
This manual was written for primary health care providers who may be treating refugees or other survivors of war trauma and torture. Primary care physicians and providers often must identify and educate survivors before encouraging them to seek mental health services, if appropriate. The manual includes assessment questions for health care providers to ask patients and facilitate the treatment process.

Download the complete manual*

New Tactics in Human Rights: A Resource for Practitioners
Written for human rights practitioners, the workbook explains in detail the tactics used by human rights organizations. The core of the book is 100 stories gathered from around the world and across numerous sectors about innovative human rights work. The workbook includes worksheets and exercises to help readers adapt the tactics to their own situations. The workbook is available for purchase from the New Tactics Web site.

My Name is…Stories and Art by Young Refugees in Minnesota Schools ($5.00 each)
Developed for teachers to increase their understanding of refugee student experiences or to be used with mainstream students to increase their awareness of their peers’ experiences. It can also be used by trained professionals in their work with refugee youth to help refugee students see that they are not alone in their experiences. If you would like to order a hard copy of this item, please write to healtorture [at]

Download the book (PDF)

Rebuilding Communities: Training Trauma Survivors to Help Communities Heal After Atrocities
The Center for Victims of Torture instituted an intensive training and a supervision model for refugees to develop local ability for providing understanding and skills for mental health support to rebuild communities after massive human rights atrocities. Devastating wars in every region of world have created a massive number of refugees and internally displaced people who have witnessed or been victims of horrible human rights atrocities. This notebook may provide tactical ideas to those assisting these communities trying to rebuild their lives.

Rebuilding Communities: Training Trauma Survivors to Heal Communities After Atrocities (PDF)

Global War and Violence
Curriculum for social work instructors who wish to prepare their students for working with torture survivors and survivors of war trauma.

Global War and Violence - Body (PDF)
Global War and Violence - Appendices (PDF)
Global War and Violence - Resources (PDF)

We Will Work Hard: A Guide for Employers of Refugee Newcomers
Information to assist employers in understanding the challenges and opportunities facing them as they employ newly arriving refugee populations to Minnesota and elsewhere.

Download the manual (PDF)

Finding and Keeping a Job
Helpful information and resources for newly arrived refugee and asylum seeking populations in Minnesota.

Download the manual (PDF)

DVD: From Terror to Healing ($10 for Parts 1 and 2) To order, please write to healtorture [at]
Part 1: Overview of Political Torture Today (31 minutes)
This Telly award-winning video overview includes the legal definition of torture, how torture is practiced and why, the highest risk population, aftereffects, assessment and treatment options and the history of the torture rehabilitation movement. The presenters are three clinicians who have worked extensively with torture survivors: a psychiatrist, a physician and a psychologist.

Part 2: The Torture Survivor's Perspective (28 minutes)
Two torture survivors and a Bosnian medical interpreter describe their experiences with torture, the aftereffects and their first experiences with the U.S. Healthcare system. Included are suggestions to healthcare providers for effective engagement. (Winner of Videographer Award of Distinction, 2001)

Download the From Terror to Healing Study Guide (PDF)

View From Terror to Healing Part I on YouTube

View From Terror to Healing Part II on YouTube

DVD: Healing and the Pursuit of Justice: Challenging Sexual Assault as a Weapon of War ($10.00)
This 34-minute DVD provides information on the situation of women in war and its aftermath. It will be useful for primary care providers, therapists and staff in refugee camps who work with survivors of sexual torture and human rights advocates. It includes an introduction to the issue, effects on women and efforts to prevent sexual assault and to hold perpetrators responsible.

View Healing and the Pursuit of Justice on YouTube


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