Crossing Worlds, Intersecting Services: Creating Practices for the Unique Needs of Forced Migrants and Survivors of Torture

December 3, 2016 9:00 am - 5:00 pm


Columbia School of Social Work, 1255 Amsterdam Ave., New York 10027

6.5 contact hours are available for NYS, NJ and CT Licensed Social Workers

$250 single; $200 each for 5 or more

Alumni will receive a $50 discount. Please email for promotional code. Your email should contain your name and the year you graduated.



As warfare, social unrest, human rights abuses, and environmental degradation greatly increase the number of displaced people worldwide, we are seeing ways in which these marginalized populations are impacting the social and public health of our society. Meeting the needs of these complexly traumatized and marginalized individuals and families is one of the great challenges facing caregivers and service providers in the medical, mental health, and social service domains.
This course will describe best and promising practices gleaned from 20 years of interdisciplinary service provision to this growing population. As we look at the intersection of the emotional, physical, behavioral, spiritual, legal, and social challenges these forced migrants face, it is increasingly clear that a wide network of service providers will be needed to develop informed and effective interventions.

Workshop Description

“Crossing Worlds, Intersecting Services” is a course designed to draw from the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture’s two decades of experience in working from an informed, interdisciplinary framework with survivors of torture and forced migrants from over 100 nations.

The course will describe the context in which treatment takes place, as well as exploring the many ways that these vulnerable populations are marginalized that goes far beyond the precipitating traumatic experiences themselves. Treatment techniques and priorities that have proven effectiveーsuch as safety and empowermentーwill be described, explained conceptually, and illustrated through clinical examples. Our philosophic emphasis on strength and resilienceーas opposed to pathologyーwill be detailed and illustrated. Specialized topics such as working with interpreters, multicultural issues in service provision, and self-care and the avoidance of compassion fatigue will be highlighted.

Learning Objectives:

Participants will learn to:

  • Recognize and articulate the multi-faceted stressors facing forced migrants and survivors of severe human rights abuses.
  • Comprehend, discuss, and utilize concrete strategies to combat symptoms of trauma and aspects of social marginalization.
  • Consider their own cultural reference group identities and how they impact communication across cultures and within shared cultural groupings.
  • Identify and utilize best practices when providing services with the participation of interpreters.
  • Identify strategies and put forth interventions to optimize self-care and reduce the risk of secondary traumatization.


Hawthorne Smith, Ph.D. is a Licensed Psychologist and the Clinical Director of the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture. He is also an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry in the New York University School of Medicine. Dr. Smith received his doctorate from Teachers College, Columbia University (with distinction) after receiving a Masters in International Affairs from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

Dr. Smith provides direct clinical services for individuals, families, and groups. He trains and supervises psychology interns and externs, as well as social work interns, medical students, and psychiatric residents. He has also facilitated an ongoing support group for French speaking African survivors of torture for the past 19 years. Among the awards and honors Dr. Smith has been accorded are: the “Hero Award” from the Robin Hood Foundation; the “Union Square Award” from the Fund for New York for his work as a co-founder of Nah We Yone, Inc. (a supportive, community base organization for displaced Africans); the “Frantz Fanon, M.D. Award” from the Postgraduate Center for Mental Health’s Psychoanalytic Institute; and the “Distinguished Alumni – Early Career Award” from Teachers College. Dr. Smith is also a professional musician (saxophone and vocals) with national and international experience.

Nancy Murakami, LCSW is the Director of Social Services for the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture. Ms. Murakami received her Masters in Social Work from Columbia University, with a concentration in international social welfare and program development and evaluation. She received specialized clinical training in therapeutic methods of addressing the impact of psychological trauma on children, adults, and families while at the Anti-Trafficking Program and Counseling Center of Safe Horizon, a New York City advocacy and assistance agency for victims of crime and abuse.

Prior to joining PSOT, Ms. Murakami was the director of counseling training for the non-profit foundation Burma Border Projects, based on the Thai-Burma border at Dr. Cynthia Maung’s Mae Tao Clinic in Mae Sot, Thailand. She provided clinical and administrative training and supervision, program and resource development, and capacity-building to Mae Tao Clinic as well as other community based organizations providing services to the displaced Burmese communities inside Burma and in Thailand.