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

Time: 11:00 to 11:20 Download Presentation

Acute short term treatment approach for newly arrived traumatized refugees

Presenter(s) and co-author(s): Dr. Mechthild Wenk-Ansohn ( Berlin Center for Torture Victims - Germany )


Due to war and conflict the influx of refugees to Europe and especially Germany has increased. Severe traumatic experiences in the context of political persecution, torture, war and flight, losses and uprootedness as well as prolonged asylum procedures (meaning lack of security concerning future stay) tend to have massive psychological and social consequences. After arriving in “relative safety” the persons pass through an especially vulnerable period in which symptoms often increase and. Early access to adequate social support and therapy is therefore of utmost importance to prevent a chronification of reactive psychological symptomatologies.


The Berlin Center for the Treatment of Torture Victims (bzfo) offers different multiprofessional trauma-oriented treatment programs and rehabilitation services depending on the individual clinical and psychosocial indication. Since 2013 an acute program has been developed with a combination of multidisciplinary short-term interventions specifically tailored to the needs of recently-traumatized survivors of torture and war atrocities coming as refugees to Europe. The “Early Access” -program offers assessment and identification of needs, psychiatric and/or psychotherapeutic treatment integrating aspects of emergency psychology and accompanied by social counseling, psycho-educational groups. Elaboration of trauma narratives for medical reports and monitoring of children's well-being is part of the program. Psychological test diagnostics are realised at intake and release including measures of PTSD (PCL-5) and depression and anxiety (HSCL-25). Evaluation questionnaires are handed out to patients in order to gain the patients subjective perspective on their changes and how helpful they perceived the different services.


The approach and first results will be presented and illustrated by case vignettes. Depending on the individual needs of the traumatized refugees and their families, different clusters of intervention packages have been identified as being helpful. The experience indicates that the access to early assessment, counseling and treatment should be systematically offered to traumatized refugees in order to prevent chronification of psychologically reactive syndromes, achieve a first stabilization and initiate a process of rehabilitation and integration in the hosting societies.

Funding & No Conflicts Declaration

The acute projects were funded by the European Union and the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The author has no conflict of interest.

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