Treating survivors of torture and refugee trauma: a preliminary case series using qigong and t'ai chi

J Altern Complement Med. 2008 Sep;14(7):801-6. doi: 10.1089/acm.2007.0736.


Objectives: This paper seeks to explore the potential value of qigong and t'ai chi practice as a therapeutic intervention to aid in the treatment of survivors of torture and refugee trauma.

Design: The common effects of torture and refugee trauma are surveyed with a focus on post-traumatic stress disorder. An alternative theoretical framework for conceptualizing and healing trauma is presented. Evidence is reviewed from the scientific literature that describes how qigong and t'ai chi have been used in studies of the general population to alleviate symptoms that are also expressed in torture survivors. Observations are presented from a combined, simplified qigong and t'ai chi intervention with a convenience sample of four refugee survivors of torture.

Results: Preliminary observations from four cases and a review of the literature support the potential efficacy of incorporating qigong and t'ai chi into the treatment of survivors of torture and refugee trauma.

Conclusions: The incorporation of qigong and t'ai chi into the treatment of torture survivors, within a new framework for healing trauma, merits further investigation.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adult
  • Breathing Exercises*
  • Congo
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lebanon
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life
  • Refugees / psychology*
  • Republic of Belarus
  • Self Efficacy*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy*
  • Survivors / psychology*
  • Tai Ji / methods*
  • Tibet
  • Treatment Outcome