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Yoga Treatment for Refugee Torture & Trauma Survivors

Yoga Treatment for Refugee Torture & Trauma Survivors

As worldwide displacement continues to increase, so too does the number of refugees experiencing torture and trauma. There is an increasing recognition of the importance of the brain and body in trauma-related symptoms, and an increasing interest in the use of mind-body therapies as a part of treatment. However, there has been very little published research on the use of yoga with refugees. STARTTS recently conducted an evaluation on the refugee yoga program.
In this presentaion, Danielle explores how Yoga is utilised as a part of STARTTS’ biopsychosocial holistic approach, considering cultural awareness, sensitivity and working together with counsellors as well as highlighting the importance of using an interpreter. The quantitative and qualitative outcomes of the yoga program and considerations for the program design are also explored.

The aims are to: 1) assess the feasibility and acceptability of a yoga group program for refugee participants; 2) identify possible physiological, psychological and interpersonal benefits; and 3) explore counsellor and participant attitudes and experiences. The research was carried out with four client groups including: a mixed group of Arabic speakers, Tamil, Bhutanese and Mandaean clients.

Preliminary data provides evidence for the acceptability and sustainability of this program for refugee clients, with benefits observed across physical, psychological and interpersonal domains. The experiences with tailoring the program and the evaluation to participants with a range of backgrounds, physical abilities and literacy levels are explored. In conclusion, it was found weekly yoga classes show promise as an adjunct treatment for refugees who experienced torture and trauma.

Speakers: Danielle Begg