What is it about?

When doctors and mental health experts work together to help victims of torture tell their stories, they face many challenges. These stories of torture are filled with descriptions of intense physical and emotional pain, which can deeply affect everyone involved, making teamwork difficult. This study looks into these challenges, drawing from experiences with African asylum seekers and Palestinians over the last ten years. The researchers found three main problems: differences in how each type of professional approaches their work, uneven power dynamics within the team, and the emotional reactions (or countertransference) the professionals have towards the victims' stories. These issues can make it hard for the team to work together smoothly. To tackle these problems, the study suggests focusing on building a strong team. This means building trust among team members, planning how they'll assess the victims together, and ensuring good communication before, during, and after the evaluations. These steps are crucial for helping torture victims effectively and compassionately.

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Why is it important?

The study describes difficulties experienced in the teamwork of mental health and medical professionals while assessing torture victims. Using a technique of self-exploration, the authors identify three sources of difficulty: a) differences in professional culture, b) power issues between the professionals, and c) unconscious reactions by the professionals. The authors suggest ways to overcome these obstacles to make assessments more effective.


The evaluation of clients by a health professional and a mental health professional jointly is more complicated than one would think initially. This article describes what the authors learned in this field during years of experience, from their successes and failures, and shares their stories.

Daniel Weishut
Hadassah Academic College

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Collaboration between mental health professionals and physicians in the assessment of torture victims in a conflict-ridden area: Complexities and recommendations., Professional Psychology Research and Practice, January 2024, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/pro0000546.
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