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Landry, C. (1989). Psychotherapy with Victims of Organised Violence: An Overview. Brit. J. Psychother., 5(3):349-352.

(1989). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 5(3):349-352

Working With Victims of Torture

Psychotherapy with Victims of Organised Violence: An Overview

Carolyn Landry

For a number of years now the centres for the treatment of torture victims who are living in exile have met yearly to share their experiences. Last year for the first time centres treating victims in their country of origin were also able to attend. World-wide over fifty centres devote themselves in whole or in part to this task. Gradually a wealth of knowledge is being formulated so that it can be shared.

Generally the psychotherapy of victims of torture (the term has been expanded to the one used in the title for reasons which will become clearer as we go on) is taken to have originated with the founding of the RCT (Rehabilitation Centre for Torture Victims) in Denmark in the 1970's. In fact, there is a long history dating from the treatment of survivors of the Nazi concentration camps. Another important precedent in America was the treatment of veterans, both of POWs from the Korean war and of veterans of Vietnam. The latter's flashbacks and uncontrollable aggression stimulated research and the development of therapy programmes. A combination of these and other factors led to the establishment of diagnostic criteria for a so-called PostTraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in DSM-III, which in turn assured a wider recognition of the effects of severe traumata. In addition to this concern for the victims of organised violence there is also a long history of treatment programmes developed in the countries of origin where persecution continues while the therapy tries to alleviate its effects.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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