Enhancing Empathy by Measuring Torture Symptoms with Survivors

This webinar, presented on July 13, 2016, is part of the National Capacity Building Project's series of webinars supporting programs that serve torture survivors.


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Wednesday, 13 July 2016



This is the first part of a two-part training on how to use screening tools with survivors of torture to achieve more than just data collection. The second part of the training - an e-consultation with the same experts - is not recorded to enhance confidentiality. The presenters are experts from the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma, Northwest Health and Human Rights, and the Marjorie Kovler Center. 

Session 1: The webinar focused on the range of screening tools available to clinicians working with survivors of torture and how they can be used to improve clinical practice, improve evaluation practice, and enhance the capacity for empathy in their work. After this training, service providers will be able to evaluate and chose which screening tools may be most effective to use in their own programs.

Session 2: The online consultation featured a panel of clinical experts who, through the use of vignettes, showed how to implement the tools in a clinical setting.  


  1. Identify a range of screening tools useful for work with survivors of torture      
  2. Recognize how screening tools can improve clinical practice     
  3. Recognize how screening tools can improve evaluation practice     
  4. Describe how screening tools can enhance capacity for empathy



The RHS-15 is free and open-access. The RHS-15 is a tool for screening refugees for emotional distress and mental health. The RHS-15 was developed in a community public health setting to be an efficient and effective way to sensitively detect the range of emotional distress common across refugee groups. Click here for more information.


The Harvard Trauma Questionnaire (HTQ) is a checklist written by HPRT, similar in design to the HSCL-25. It inquires about a variety of trauma events, as well as the emotional symptoms considered to be uniquely associated with trauma. (see attachment below)


The HSCL-25 is a symptom inventory which measures symptoms of anxiety and depression. (see attachment below)

PHQ- 9

The PHQ-9 is a multipurpose instrument for screening, diagnosing, monitoring, and measuring the severity of depression. For an English translation click http://www.phqscreeners.com/sites/g/files/g10016261/f/201412/PHQ-9_English.pdf. If you are interested in other translations please click here: https://www.phqscreeners.com/.


This questionnaire may be used as the initial screening test for major depressive episode.

Available on-line trainings

Vicarious Resilience

Marianne Joyce made reference to the concept of Vicarious Resilience in her presentation.  An article from the journal Family Process  “Vicarious Resilience: A New Concept in Work With Those Who Survive Trauma” by Pilar Hernandez, PhD, David Gangsei, PhD, and David Engstrom, PhD is available here:  http://www.nursingacademy.com/uploads/6/4/8/8/6488931/vicariousresilience.pdf

A follow-up essay by David Gangsei, PhD is available here: Vicarious Trauma, Vicarious Resilience and Self-Care

You may also be interested in our webinar on Serving Survivors of Torture: Attending to Vicarious Trauma and Enhancing Vicarious Resilience.

Finally, the question of how to train others was brought up in this webinar. This article discusses vicarious resilience in that context: Exploring the Impact of Trauma on Therapists: Vicarious Resilience and Related Concepts in Training.


Assessing Trauma & Associated Symptoms in Refugees & Torture Survivors

In this webinar Dr. Hollifield delves into the available assessment for trauma and associated symptoms in refugees and torture survivors, describing the basic qualitative and quantitative methods for developing assessments about trauma and symptoms, and identifying current instruments available for use and potentially discuss needs for new instruments.

Strengthening Case Management: Containment with Clients

In this webinar Joan Hodges-Wu provides case studies and techniques in containment for case managers and others whose clients may require such an intervention, especially during an evaluation.


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