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

Agger, Inger and Igreja, Victor and 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). pp. 568-589. ISSN 1363-4615

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.


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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Files associated with this item cannot be displayed due to copyright restrictions.
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Arts - School of Humanities and Communication
Date Deposited: 04 Aug 2016 02:53
Last Modified: 20 Mar 2017 04:40
Uncontrolled Keywords: torture; trauma; Asia; transcultural healing methods; ceremonies; spirituality
Fields of Research : 11 Medical and Health Sciences > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111714 Mental Health
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1177/1363461512447138
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/28305

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