University of Minnesota




Location of Organization/Basic Contact Information:

HQ: St. Paul, MN; USA


Regional offices:

Washington, DC; USA

Democratic Republic of Congo


Sierra Leone

Cambodia (consultative status)




St. Paul Administration
2356 University Avenue West
St. Paul, MN 55114
Tel. 612.436.4800
Fax 612.436.2606

Washington, D.C.
426 C Street, N.E.
Washington, DC 20002
Tel. 202-548-0116
Fax 202-548-0118




Organization Mission Statement:

The Center for Victims of Torture (CVT) exists to heal the wounds of government-sponsored torture on individuals, their families and their communities, and to stop its practice.


What are the basic goals of the organization?

As many as 500,000 torture survivors are living in the United States. These individuals were brutalized by repressive regimes abroad because of what they believed, what they said or did, or what they represented. Many survivors, their families, and their communities suffer the lingering, debilitating effects of their horrific traumas in silence.

CVT has pioneered a comprehensive assessment and care program that is unique in this country. In recent years, CVT has expanded its services to include research, training and public policy initiatives in order to develop strategies for abolishing torture worldwide.

We believe survivors of torture can recover from the traumas that they have suffered. Our healing services staff helps that process.
Through individual and group counseling, survivors can reclaim their dignity and rebuild their lives. They can heal physically, mentally, and emotionally.
When torture survivors come to CVT they may be suffering physically, mentally and spiritually. They may have depression or posttraumatic stress disorder.

Torture survivors often experience:

• Bad dreams at night
• Trouble sleeping
• Weight gain or loss
• Feelings of sadness, anger, despair
• Forgetfulness or concentration problems
• An inability to control thoughts or memories

We operate healing centers in Minneapolis and St. Paul, as well as in Liberia and Sierra Leone in West Africa.

International Services: CVT International Services works in areas where conflict and torture has resulted in widespread devastation of the community. When political violence intentionally destroys a community, the society itself must heal before peace and democracy can flourish. Healing survivors of torture and war trauma is integral to the process or rebuilding. CVT International Services provides mental health services in an effective, efficient and sustainable manner so that survivors of torture and trauma can resume their life.  CVT targets those communities with high numbers of survivors and few sources of help such as in post conflict or refugee camp situations.  While working directly with survivors, CVT is also helping build the infrastructure to meet the mental health needs beyond the tenure of this project.

Healing people, healing the community

CVT serves the mental health needs of individuals and the community in several ways.

Community Sensitization: Raises awareness of the prevalence and effects of torture to help community members know how they can help each other and identify potential clients

Individual Counseling: For people who can't attend group counseling or need more privacy, individual counseling sessions are available.

Small Group Counseling: The core healing service offered by CVT is small group counseling. Torture and trauma survivors meet for 10 weeks. The groups are structured by age and gender to better address issues.

Psychosocial Activities: To promote healing and community building, CVT coordinates non-counseling activities such as games, drama, arts and crafts, and athletics.

Training Activities: CVT trains religious leaders, teachers, caregivers, and staff from other NGOs about the effects of torture and trauma.

Training Para-Professionals
Because of the high concentration of survivors, CVT trains local para-professionals to facilitate the healing process and counseling sessions. Professional psychologists, social workers and other experts in the field of torture and trauma rehabilitation train the Psychosocial Agents (PSAs). The PSAs receive over 30 weeks of training, beginning with observing counseling sessions and ultimately leading group sessions.

CVT works with other NGOs to develop an effective referral system. Ultimately, we hope to leave in place a functioning independent mental health care agency, then work with this partner organization as we do with other torture treatment centers worldwide.

CVT is currently working in Sierra Leone, Liberia and in September 2006 announced it will begin work in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Who does this organization employ? (i.e. Graduate degrees; only grant writing background, etc).  Why? 

A bulk of the employees have advanced or medical degrees. 


Do employees need a second language? 

Frequently yes, employees need a second language.  There is a large amount translation and direct service, and for those reasons, second languages are necessary for many positions.  Not all positions require a second language.


Where does this organization advertise when there are job openings?

Mostly on the CVT webpage and through the organization listserv.







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