The Center for Survivors of Torture (CST) exists to facilitate healing, ease transition into new beginnings, and foster hope in survivors of trauma.
CTS does this by providing specialized services addressing their comprehensive psychological, medical, and social needs; generating legal referrals; providing training opportunities for state-of-the-art professional service delivery; and collecting outcome measurements.
With treatment from trained professionals, survivors can overcome the devastating effects of torture and trauma to live healthy, productive lives.
Clients are able to resolve grief and trauma, integrate the torture experiences into the larger context of the person they are, and become dynamic members of their new communities.
This is a weekly 8-session course with the purpose of providing information and skills for managing stress and anxiety. The focus will be on what we can control right now to help us feel better. During each group we will learn and practice a new skill which you can use whenever you feel overwhelmed. Each group is accompanied by a handout that you can keep to practice the skills between sessions and to review the material covered in group as needed well after the 8-session course.
Adjusting to new culture can be extremely challenging because everything is different and new including the language, the laws, and the healthcare system. The resource group focuses on connecting you with practical information and resources to help you meet your basic needs. Some of the areas covered include legal referrals and medical referrals, referrals to English classes, resources for food, and providing information on other community resources and programs.
Art class meets weekly for two hours. No prior experience is necessary and all skill levels from beginner to advanced are welcome. This class is led by Dr. Karin Montero, CST’s Medical Director who is also an artist. Dr. Montero provides instruction on different art techniques while also facilitating lively conversation that routinely includes a lot of laughter.
In preparation for the week, each group member will be texted a series of images in advance of the art group that you can then use to paint or draw as you practice new techniques during class and between classes. Art is another way to practice mindfulness and many people find it relaxing and healing – this class might serve as a testament to the saying that “sometimes laughter is the best medicine!”
Meditation is an ancient wisdom tradition that over time has been incorporated in various forms by almost all major religions and spiritual traditions. CST’s weekly meditation group is welcoming of all religious and non-religious backgrounds and spiritual traditions. The objectives of this group are to promote a sense of safety and stability, facilitate healing and empowerment, enhance resilience and wellbeing, improve emotion regulation, and to create community and social connection and support.
Meditation has been linked to improvements in sleep, attention, memory, emotion regulation, blood pressure and chronic pain. It has also been shown to enhance wellbeing and compassion. Meditation is simple but not easy and so we use the power of coming together in a group format to provide encouragement and support to one another as we establish a meditation practice that fits our daily lives.
Women’s Yoga Class
CST hosts a weekly yoga class that is open to all female identified clients. Yoga is an ancient mindfulness practice with origins in northern India and a philosophy that emphasizes connecting the mind, body, and spirit. In this class we also place a special emphasis on practicing kindness and compassion towards ourselves by meeting ourselves where we are, befriending our bodies, and cultivating appreciation for what our bodies can do.
Yoga has been linked to health benefits such as improved sleep, increased strength and flexibility, and improvements in circulation, blood pressure, mental clarity, and wellbeing, among others. If you would like to learn more about this group, availability in the class, and to discuss options to get connected with the materials that you will need, please see your CST counselor or point of contact.
Survivors Support Group
This group aims to promote empowerment, resilience, and healing by leveraging the power of social support and the wisdom and experience that exists within the group. This group will provide information about common reactions to distressing life events, discuss and share coping strategies and community resources.
Above all, this group seeks to provide a safe space for people to connect with other survivors who have also had to leave their country and face many challenges in adjusting to a new country and culture.
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While our clients have often endured the unimaginable, we are constantly amazed by the capacity of the human spirit to heal, forgive, and seek happiness. Your gift can help them on their journey.
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CST provides wraparound services, which have been a best practice for many decades, and treat the whole client in the context of being an individual, a member of a family, a part of a culture and a survivor of repeated trauma, in a culturally competent manner.
Evaluation, diagnosis and treatment with individual, group and family therapy: Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Solution-Focused approaches.
Diagnosis, treatment, pain reduction, wound care, physiotherapy, prescriptions.
Clients along with their case managers, set and achieve goals, obtain basic needs, ESL, and housing stability, leading to self sufficiency.
Training those who are interested in providing services to survivors.
APB Education Program
Employment skills inventory and community college easy-entry programs
Individuals coming in contact with survivors of torture find there is an enormous need for training, especially pro-bono professionals.
CST provides training on an ongoing basis, responding to clients and community needs as they arise. In an effort to reduce the wait list, CST trains mainstream licensed providers whose clientele may include refugees and immigrants, thus helping them identify survivors, and improve their skills, and provide strength based, trauma-informed care.
CST provides education and workshops for refugee community leaders, attorneys, educators, physicians, and the immigrant community, on an ongoing basis.
Educational opportunities through CST’s social services
Many survivor of torture clients are underemployed. CST’s Adam Patrick Bratcher (APB) Education Program identifies cohorts of clients who want to pursue college or certificates. The program establishes a single point of entry through the highest-level community college contact.
CST board members’ career-long, national experience in community college leadership eases access into community college programs that lead to jobs with the potential of earning a sustainable wage. This referral system to free college or certification programs, as a part of our APB Education Program, has a far-reaching impact on clients, helping them to build employable skills and earn a living, self-sufficiency, cultural competency, English skills, and generates hope for a better future for their family.
Community perception is positive regarding the quality and the innovation of CST’s responses to clients’ challenges.