JUN 25 - 27  

Psychological Evaluations of Child and Adult Victims of Displacement, Persecution, and Torture

Refugees with a history of torture may have a wide range of psychological and social difficulties. Psychological torture relies primarily on psychological effects, and only secondarily on any physical harm inflicted. Although not all psychological torture involves the use of physical violence, there is a connection between psychological torture and physical torture. A psychologist can assess if a patient experienced psychological torture and begin treatment so they can heal. Through the assessment, the mental health clinician can indicate how the psychological abuse may impact the child or adult in other areas of their functioning.

Assessments and treatment can often be viewed as healing and a form of rebuilding their self confidence and resiliency but a sudden trigger of traumatic memories may result in sudden emotional distress or anxiety. Once these diagnoses and symptoms are discussed, the next phase will be on writing an affidavit to demonstrate that the client does indeed exhibit some symptoms or has a diagnosis. 


This workshop will cover the following topics:

Elements of Psychological Torture & Abuse
Psychological Assessment/How To Create A Safe Space
Psychological Findings/Most Commonly Documented Psychological Problems
Writing the Affidavit
Vicarious Trauma & Clinician Self Care

Learning Objectives:

  • Review the common elements of psychological torture and abuse
  • Recognize and document long-term psychological effects of torture and abuse, with a focus on children and adolescents
  • Provide an approach to conducting culturally and clinically-sensitive examinations of torture and abuse survivors
  • Understand key differences between evaluating adults and children 


Paula Madrid, PsyD- Paula Madrid  is a New York State-licensed clinical psychologist, and was a fellow at the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma (HPRT) and a faculty member of HPRT's Global Mental Health Program. Dr. Madrid was also an adjunct faculty member at the National Center for Disaster Preparedness, where in the aftermath of 9/11, she headed its Resiliency Program—a clinic focused on providing direct care and staff training to individuals impacted by the terrorist attacks. In its six-year existence, the Resiliency Program served over 10,000 individuals. In October of 2005, Dr. Madrid was appointed Director of Mental Health Services for "Operation Assist," a joint initiative by Children's Health Fund and the National Center for Disaster Preparedness to assist victims of Hurricane Katrina. Internationally, Dr. Madrid has also participated in post-tsunami relief work and helped mental health professional organizations in Spain after the 2004 train bombings in the capital city. Dr. Madrid has published numerous articles and presents nationally and internationally on disasters' impact on underserved populations, resilience as an essential aspect. Dr. Madrid was the Director of Clinical Services for CHF’s Sandy Resiliency Program through 2015 and is currently consulting for mental health programs in Flint, MI after the lead water crisis. Additionally, in 2013 Dr. Madrid opened her own private practice in New York City doing psychological evaluations and professional consultation.

Maria Scigliano, MSW- In her role as Senior Program Officer at the Children’s Health Fund (CHF), Maria Scigliano is responsible for implementing network wide grant deliverable tracking systems and program development. Her duties also include working closely with the New Orleans Children's Health Project to help implement their field screening model focused on the large influx of immigrants to the area, and coordinating mental health efforts in Flint, MI as part of CHF's response to the water crisis. Prior to joining the Children’s Health Fund in the fall of 2012, Ms. Scigliano worked for the Millennium Villages Project at Columbia University’s Earth Institute and at YouthBuild USA, a non-profit that provides education, counseling and job skills to underserved youth. Ms. Scigliano also has a background in social work. She graduated with a Masters in Social Policy and Social Work from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Boston University.

Lauren Pesso, LMSW, MPA- Program Director – Human Rights Clinic
Lauren Pesso has worked for over a decade to address the health and well-being of vulnerable populations in the United States and abroad. She is the Director of HealthRight International’s Human Rights Clinic, which provides forensic and case management services to immigrants in the U.S. fleeing torture and other severe human rights abuses. Directly prior to this post, she developed and oversaw the expansion of an anti-human trafficking program in New York, and has coordinated gender-based violence research studies and a variety of maternal and reproductive healthcare programs in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe. She holds a Masters of Social Work (MSW) and a Masters of Public Administration (MPA) from Columbia University.

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