Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy

, Volume 47, Issue 1, pp 51–59

Working with Victims of Human Trafficking

  • Antonio Pascual-Leone
  • Jean Kim
  • Orrin-Porter Morrison
Original Paper


The objective is to introduce work with victims of human trafficking by explaining the needs of victims, and clinical challenges. A case illustrates the complexity of working with this population. A narrative overview discusses issues of human trafficking as relevant to psychotherapists. Challenges that victims of human trafficking face include experiences of isolation, psychological manipulation, dependence, and resulting mental health problems. Cultural, linguistic, and trust barriers often exist when seeking services. Assessment should include comprehensive psychiatric evaluations with a focus on understanding the client prior to trafficking and the idiosyncratic experience of being trafficked. Therapy should focus on trauma-related aspects of the client’s symptoms concurrently while treating other disorders. Essential guidelines for working with victims of human trafficking are provided, and emotion-focused therapy for complex trauma is highlighted as one of several possible approaches.


Psychotherapy Multicultural Human trafficking Trauma Services 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WindsorWindsorCanada

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