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What Therapies are Favored in the Treatment of the Psychological Sequelae of Trauma in Human Trafficking Victims?


Journal of Psychiatric Practice®: March 2018 - Volume 24 - Issue 2 - p 87–96
doi: 10.1097/PRA.0000000000000288

Human trafficking is a major public health concern that brings about deleterious psychological consequences and sequelae. Although a number of risk and protective factors for the health consequences of human trafficking victims have been identified, there is a dearth of information in the area of treatment. Specifically, we found no articles comparing the different components of prevailing trauma treatment strategies, and the potential usefulness of these strategies in the treatment of human trafficking victims. To this end, we compared and contrasted the different therapeutic treatments typically implemented with victims of trauma (including domestic violence victims and torture victims), and discussed how the different components of these treatments may or may not be helpful for human trafficking victims. We assessed the impact of these treatments on the psychological consequences of trauma and, in particular on posttraumatic stress disorder. We also assessed the potential usefulness of these treatments with co-occurring problems such as substance use, psychosis, dissociation, and other mood and anxiety disorders. On the basis of the prevailing research, we highlighted cognitive therapies as being preferred in addressing the needs of human trafficking victims. Mental health providers who work with human trafficking victims should become aware of and practiced in the use of cognitive therapeutic approaches in treating this population. Efficacy and effectiveness studies are needed to validate our recommendations.

SALAMI, GORDON, COVERDALE, NGUYEN: Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX

SALAMI: Department of Psychology, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, TX

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Please send correspondence to: Temilola Salami, PhD, Department of Psychology, Sam Houston State University, 1901 Avenue I, Suite 390, Huntsville, TX 77340 (email:

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