Psychological Services, Health and Wellness Program
The Psychological Services team provides individual and group counseling in a safe, caring and confidential environment. Survivors have suffered horrendous physical torture including burning, sleep deprivation, beatings and sexual assault. But the psychological consequences of torture can be even worse. After arriving in the United States, survivors may experience depression, sleeping problems and fearfulness. They may lose trust in themselves and in others, making it difficult to establish new relationships. Culturally-based healing techniques, trauma-informed interventions, yoga and massage sessions and meditation all assist survivors to cope with multiple losses and traumas.
Individual Therapy and Psychiatric Services
In individual therapy sessions, the psychotherapy teams uses a mix of psychological approaches to create a non-judgmental and empathic atmosphere for them to heal.
The Psychological Services Team runs group programs which restore and foster social connections for survivors by reducing isolation and helping them build new relationships. Group programs are organized around activities such as drawing and painting, gardening, or sports. Weekly yoga sessions taught by a volunteer yoga teacher strengthen the body, increase flexibility, promote relaxation and improve overall health and well-being. Massage therapists work with individual survivors to reduce pain from injuries and soothe the psychological symptoms of trauma.
TASSC also offers a weekly workshop called Safe Skills where we gather as a community to learn and practice ways that help survivors reduce stress, maintain hope, and build support for one another. The group is open to all survivors of torture, both members and non-members, English speaking and non-English speaking. We celebrate the diverse experiences each participant brings into our group. We support one another to identify the inner strengths and wisdom that are already there in each one of us. We talk; we listen; we laugh; we cry. Together, we are one another’s healing energy.
TASSC conducts forensic evaluations and expert testimony in support of survivors’ asylum claims. These evaluations document psychological and medical symptoms
to provide evidence of torture that survivors have suffered from such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The TASSC volunteer doctor documents the survivor’s injuries and/or scars, and prepares evaluations submitted with the survivor’s asylum application.
Training and Externships
The Psychological Services Team have also provided training to Physicians for Human Rights, Howard University Family Medicine Program, American University Law School, Georgetown Law and the DC Bar Association. They covered topics such documenting symptoms and collaborating with attorneys, social workers and medical professionals. It may be stressful for survivors to share details about their torture experience with attorneys, who need these details to prepare a strong asylum claim.
TASSC offers year-long training opportunities to doctoral students in psychology and a psychiatrist in residence in partnership with the Georgetown University Department of Psychiatry. If you are interested in more information, please contact our team at firstname.lastname@example.org.