An increasing number of individuals who are victimized by torture in their homelands are currently re-settling their lives in Vermont and the greater New England area. The impact of such torture can be far reaching, not only affecting individuals who have directly experienced trauma, but extended families and communities within which these individuals exist. Failing to adequately address these issues can lead to re-traumatization, poverty, discrimination, and unsuccessful re-integration.
The New England Survivors of Torture and Trauma Program is a direct partnership between psychological services (Connecting Cultures) and legal services (Vermont Immigration and Asylum Advocates). Our goal is to provide survivors of torture with holistic, integrated and effective services in a culturally relevant, client centered context.
Connecting Cultures is the primary mental health service component of NESTT and the only program in Vermont specifically designed to address the mental health needs of survivors of torture.
Connecting Cultures is a clinical-science specialty clinic within the Behavior Therapy and Psychotherapy Center (BTPC; a 501(c) 3), in the Psychology Department at the University of Vermont. The BTPC has been successfully providing mental health services for over 35 years. Connecting Cultures is specifically designed to provide direct clinical services, outreach, research and evaluation for refugees, immigrants, and asylum seekers.
Vermont Immigration and Asylum Advocates (VIAA) serve the legal needs of immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and asylees in Vermont, and is the primary provider of legal services for survivors of torture that are assisted through the NESTT program. VIAA assists primarily with claims for asylum, applications for family reunification and employment authorization issues. While it is generally understood that between 5% and 35% of refugees are survivors of torture, our case data at the VIAA illustrates a much higher percentage for asylum seekers; close to 70% of our most recent asylum cases.