Testimony ceremonies in Asia: integrating spirituality in testimonial therapy for torture survivors in India, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and the Philippines

Agger, Inger, Igreja, Victor, Kiehle, Rachel and Polatin, Peter (2012) Testimony ceremonies in Asia: integrating spirituality in testimonial therapy for torture survivors in India, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and the Philippines. Transcultural Psychiatry, 49 3-4: 568-589.


Author Agger, Inger
Igreja, Victor
Kiehle, Rachel
Polatin, Peter
Title Testimony ceremonies in Asia: integrating spirituality in testimonial therapy for torture survivors in India, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and the Philippines
Journal name Transcultural Psychiatry   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1363-4615
1461-7471
Publication date 2012-05
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1177/1363461512447138
Volume 49
Issue 3-4
Start page 568
End page 589
Total pages 22
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher Sage Publications
Collection year 2013
Language eng
Abstract This study explores the therapeutic implications of including culturally adapted spiritual ceremonies in the process of testimonial therapy for torture survivors in India, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, and the Philippines. Data were collected through an action research process with Asian mental health and human rights organizations, during which the testimonial method was reconceptualized and modified to include four sessions. In the first two sessions, community workers assist survivors in the writing of their testimony, which is their narrative about the human rights violations they have suffered. In the third session, survivors participate in an honour ceremony in which they are presented with their testimony documents. In the fourth session, the community workers meet with the survivors for a reevaluation of their well-being. The honour ceremonies developed during the action research process came to employ different kinds of symbolic language at each site: human rights (India), religious/Catholic (Sri Lanka), religious/Buddhist (Cambodia), and religious/Moslem (Philippines). They all used embodied spirituality in various forms, incorporating singing, dancing, and religious purification rituals in a collective gathering. We suggest that these types of ceremonies may facilitate an individual’s capacity to contain and integrate traumatic memories, promote restorative self-awareness, and engage community support. Additional research is needed to determine the method’s applicability in other sociopolitical contexts governed by more Western-oriented medical traditions.
Keyword Torture
Trauma
Asia
Transcultural healing methods
Ceremonies
Spirituality
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2013 Collection
School of Social Science Publications
 
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Created: Thu, 20 Sep 2012, 12:51:07 EST by Ms Ramona Hooyer on behalf of School of Social Science