The supportive counselling provided by CCVT staff plays a major role in the process of healing the traumatic effects and improving the mental health of the survivors. During counselling sessions, clients are reassured, comforted and encouraged in their endeavours to overcome difficult situations.
Once some trust has developed, then the connection of clients with other services available both within and outside the centre is worked out. Such connections require listening skills, time, empathy, patience and sensitivity, among other things, as well as some knowledge of different cultures and resources in the community.
The aim is to ensure access to services that integrate the inner resources within the individual with available external support, thus ensuring the re-empowerment of the individual at his or her own speed.
In 1989, the CCVT began to provide professional services on the premises. The position of crisis counselor was created and a group support program began.
Group programs now include a drop-in program, which assists survivors to access services available to them in Toronto. As well, the drop-in programs help survivors to overcome the isolation they may feel. It allows clients to meet other survivors of torture in a comfortable and informal atmosphere.
Mutual support groups for men, women, children and youths which address the unique general and specific problems survivors face in adapting to Canadian society are available to clients. Some of the support groups that have been held include among others: the Somali Women's Group, Iranian Men and Women's Group, African Woman's Group, and the Albanian Family Group.
A bilingual staff member and a volunteer physician who is a member of the medical group of the Centre are some of the resources available to the groups. The model for this program is available on request. These programs reflect one of the premises of the CCVT; that some survivors can best support and encourage one another, since they may share similar backgrounds, experiences and problems.
Below is a list of support groups:
1. Women Wellness support group
2. Spanish speaking support group
3. Francophone parenting support group
4. African Women’s support group
5. Eritrean and Ethiopian support group
6. Farsi/Dari support group
Children's support clubs/activities
Clients face all kinds of situations that can become a crisis in view of their previous experiences and having to confront barriers and lack of available resources. The most common issues that can manifest as a severe suicidal crisis include traumatic experiences, family separation, financial crisis, loss of status as well as other losses. Other crises may be due to extreme stress. The role that CCVT takes is to support the client with reassurance, information and in many cases, advocacy to ensure their protection and their rights.
COORDINATED PROFESSIONAL SERVICES
The CCVT provides the link between the survivor of torture and a network of professional services which includes doctors, lawyers, social service workers and volunteers.
The medical network includes experienced physicians, psychiatrists and other medical specialists. Referrals for survivors of torture are accepted and the CCVT settlement counsellor will assess a survivor's physical and psychological condition and refer the survivor for appropriate medical attention and treatment with one or more of the CCVT's associated physicians.
The Centre has developed a medical protocol for doctors to examine torture survivors and document their experience. This may be necessary, for instance, if requested by the survivorâ€™s lawyer to support a refugee claim before the Immigration and Refugee Board.
There is a reciprocal referral service for legal and social assistance services when required. For instance, a CCVT survivor, if requested, will be put in contact with a lawyer who is knowledgeable and experienced about the issues and problems faced by a survivor of torture. In turn, a lawyer who has a refugee client can refer him or her to the Centre for assistance.
Welfare and social assistance workers are able to contact the CCVT about clients who they feel could benefit from its services. The CCVT acts as an advocate on the survivor's behalf when requested to do so by the survivor, especially with regard to immigration and other government agencies.
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