Group Treatment with Survivors of Torture 3 - Reconnecting Survivor Communities at the International Institute of Connecticut

This webinar, from May 20, 2015, features Joan Hodges-Wu, MA, and Favour Olumofin, BSW, of the International Institute of Connecticut.
This webinar is part of the National Capacity Building (NCB) webinar series. NCB is a project of the Center for Victims of Torture.


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Thursday, 21 May 2015



This webinar is the third in the NCB Project’s three-part series on Group Treatment with Survivors of Torture.  In the series, the NCB Project will highlight three Survivors of Torture programs that are using innovative techniques to provide group treatment.

“Beauty School” is an innovative 12-session, client-led, women-only task group developed by the International Institute of Connecticut (IICONN).  Combining client self-care with environmental mastery, Beauty School promotes survivor engagement and community integration via life skills speakers and neighborhood field trips.  This group is led by IICONN’s lead case manager, and represents Judith Herman’s third stage of recovery: reconnection.

  • A recording of the Stage One Group webinar in this series, The Orientation Group: PSOT's Approach to Welcoming and Further Resourcing Clients, may be found here.  
  • A recording of the Stage Two Group webinar in this series,  Reflections on a Women's Psychotherapy Group at the Center for Victims of Torture, may be found here.


After attending this webinar participants will be able to:

  1. Summarize how IICONN’s “Beauty School” group came into being and why this approach is relevant to working with survivors of torture
  2. Identify the principles under which the group is organized
  3. Describe the group implementation
  4. Describe the group’s successes and challenges


Joan Hodges-Wu, MA, serves as the Program Advisor to the International Institute of Connecticut’s Survivors of Torture program.  With ten years experience providing direct and non-direct services to low-income, limited English, vulnerable immigrant populations, Joan is also responsible for two case management training series as part of Center for Victims of Torture’s National Capacity Building Project.  Joan holds a Masters in Refugee Care from the University of Essex in England and is currently a MSW candidate at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.  She is also the former Lead Case Manager for the Program for Survivors of Torture and Severe Trauma in Northern Virginia. 

Favour Olumofin is the Lead Case Manager for the Survivor of Torture Program at the International Institute of Connecticut (IICONN). She has eight years of experience providing comprehensive, client-focused services designed to educate and empower individuals and families from culturally diverse populations. She received her BA in Social Development Studies and Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.



The video clip played during this webinar is from the Moth Radio Hour.  The full presentation, The Moth Presents Andrew Solomon:  The Refugees, can be found here. The clip we shared was from 7:03 to 12:14.

Thank you to the Moth Radio Hour for their assistance and allowing the use of this video. 

Tips from the presenters for creating and running this type of group

  • Scheduling the ‘beauty’ part of the group activity at the beginning of each session inspires attendees to arrive on time.
  • Using interpreters may be essential.  Groups are easier to manage when there are only a couple of languages used.
  • “Ration” supplies.  Don’t put all your beauty supplies out at one time as they will certainly get snapped up by the end of the meeting.
  • If you are looking for donations for your group, it may be more worthwhile to check with small retailers in your area rather than large stores such as Target or Walmart.  Larger stores often have particular procedures for processing overstock that prevents them from making donations.
  • Donating supplies for the beauty group is an excellent opportunity for donors to contribute to your organization in a new way. 


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