Fundamentals of Providing Services to Torture Survivors

Participants in the National Capacity Building Project are eligible to nominate staff members for the blended learning course, Fundamentals of Providing Services to Torture Survivors. The Fundamentals course is an intensive nine-week, 30-hour on-line blended learning course.  The course is directed toward staff members who are recently hired or new to working with torture survivors and are currently providing direct services to torture survivors within your program. It is intended to give staff basic knowledge and current agreed-upon practices regarding providing holistic services for torture survivors. The course was developed in 2009 using special funding from ORR, and has been offered eight times since then. It was offered once in the current 2016-18 cycle, and is provided free of charge to participating NCB programs: members of the NCTTP or grantees under ORR's Survivors of Torture grant program.

Course developers

The content was developed by a curriculum planning team of service providers drawn from NCB-eligible programs for torture survivors and encompassing diverse aspects of service delivery. They were David Gangsei, PhD (Coordinator and Core Concepts); Denise Ziya Berte, PhD with Margaret Lee Higgins, PsyD (Cultural Competence); Crystal Green, PhD, LMFT (Working with Interpreters); Regina Germain, Esq. (Legal Services); Sondra Crosby, MD with Michael Grodin, MD (Medical Services); Mary Fabri, PsyD with David Kinzie, MD (Mental Health); Heather Tracey, MSW, LISW (Social Services; Eva M. Solomonson, MSW, LISW (Holistic Care Planning); Amber Gray, MPH, MA, LPCC, ADTR, NCC (Self Care).

Lesson topics

This course has been developed by senior staff in programs for torture survivors and covers the main service areas of working with torture survivors.  Course topics include: 

  • Core concepts & eligibility requirements
  • Cultural competence
  • Working with interpreters
  • Legal services
  • Medical services
  • Mental health services
  • Social services
  • Holistic care planning
  • Self-care

The course consists of recorded on-line animated PowerPoint lectures, online threaded discussions with the instructor and other participants, readings, videos, exercises, and meetings with a designated mentor within each participating organization. Most elements of the course can be done at self-chosen times by each enrollee, within a weekly timeframe. In general, evaluations by participants and mentors of the course have been very positive, both of the format and the content.

Course requirements

Participants in the course must be providing direct services to torture survivors in one or more of the following service areas: medical, mental health, legal, social services and case management. The participants must also be recently hired staff or new to working with torture survivors (within twelve months of hire).

All participants are required to have an assigned mentor within their organizations. The mentor is an experienced staff person who will meet with participants for one hour each week during the course to discuss the course content and how it relates to their own organization’s work. From July through September 2011, NCB conducted interviews with the mentors as part of the evaluation of the Fundamentals course. The goal of the evaluation was to assess the extent to which course participants had applied the course in their practice. The evaluation is attached here.

Each participant must have access to a computer with internet access in order to participate in an introductory webinar and access on-line learning modules, videos and the threaded discussion group.

The course will last nine weeks and will take about 30 hours of time to complete (3-5 hours per week). Because this is a large time commitment, it is important that organizations be committed to providing participating staff members work time to participate in the course as well as talk with the mentor who will meet with them weekly.

Limited space

We limit enrollment to thirty participants in order to maximize the benefits of discussions among the participants and course leader. 

If you are interested in participating in a future iteration of the course, or wish to nominate a participant, look for the announcement on the listserv or email


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