Online proceedings for the IRCT General Assembly and 10th International Scientific Symposium - Delivering on the Promise of the Right to Rehabilitation

Time: 11:50 to 12:10 Download Presentation

Psychosocial interventions as part of comprehensive rehabilitation processes for survivors of political trauma

Presenter(s) and co-author(s): Ms. Gina Paola Donoso Roman ( Ghent University - Belgium )


This contribution aims at investigating critically to what extent and how psychosocial interventions are key elements of comprehensive rehabilitation from political trauma. The research is embedded on the study con- text of Ecuador. A sample of participants has been chosen based on the cases of the Final Report of the Truth Commission Ecuador (TCE). The TCE's analysis included serious human rights violations committed between 1984 and 2008. The research will address important issues on trauma recovery, like how comprehensive and politically sensitive psychosocial interventions may help victims to produce new symbolizations, integrating and providing new meanings to their experiences of horror.


This study is based on the analysed data collected from twenty (20) in-depth interviews with clinical and social psychologists with direct and indirect work experience with political trauma survivors. And 37 survivors who were invited to participate in focus groups sessions based on voluntary basis. The study´s main hypotheses are that trauma survivors are affected by secondary victimization and their comprehensive recovery is drastically diminished because of: 1) lack or insufficient interconnection between the subjective and political/judicial elements throughout psychological interventions, 2) individual models mistakenly extrapolated to political trauma treatments and, 3) lack of specific training of political trauma programs. The analysis addresses questions about what elements should psychotherapy and other forms of reparative processes take into account to address victims of political trauma in an effective and sensitive practice. In order to encourage participation and agency from the participants, validity check sessions with participants were implemented. A careful planned group methodology was designed in order to stimulate mutual trust and support.


The study emphasizes that political trauma survivors seek to overcome their individual, family, community and legal concerns. When the expectations of (subjective) recovery and (political/social) validation through psychosocial services and other reparation processes are not met, victims of political trauma may suffer a deeper traumatic sequence. Based on the empirical data and literature review, the following results and treatment recommendations are provided:

1. Secondary victimization remains largely spread on the study context,

2. Politically and judicially embedded psychosocial interventions provide a comprehensive approach to trauma interventions which increases its effectivity,

3. When collective and social dimensions of political trauma are taken into account, psychosocial interventions are experienced as fulfilling and the risk of secondary victimization is diminished,

4. Adequate and effective trainings on political trauma and recovery are needed in Ecuador in order to reach psychosocial recovery among victims, increase trust and facilitate legal procedures.

Funding & No Conflicts Declaration

SENESCYT -- Ecuador and FWO - Bélgica. The author declares no conflict of interest in connection to this contribution.

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