“We can’t distance ourselves from pain and trauma. We are immersed in them, because the basic principle of creating trust is that you will genuinely connect.”
Mario is a clinician and psychotherapist who has been working with torture survivors for the last thirty years. This started with other Guatemalan immigrants to the USA, who started to simply approach him for help in the early 1990s, as someone who understood their situation.
These days he’s clinical supervisor at the Marjorie Kovler Centre in Chicago, a part of the Heartland Alliance. He works with people claiming political asylum, and helps on initiatives elsewhere around the world.
Over the course of the interview we unpack:
- What are the legacy effects of this kind of trauma, and what kinds of treatment seem to work best?
- How do these approaches need to be culturally adapted? Or adapted to resource-limited environments?
- What does self-care look like in a tough field like this? How do you avoid incurring secondary trauma over the long term?
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Rethink Fragility is an oral history of conflicts, crises, and the aid business. It is hosted by Ian D. Quick, an independent consultant and writer.
Mario Gonzalez is clinical supervisor at the Marjorie Kovler Center, based in Chicago, which supports individuals recovering from torture to transform their lives.
He was born and educated in Guatemala, and has worked with individuals claiming political asylum in the United States, and with projects in a number of countries where torture is widespread.
For more on the Kovler centre, a program of the Heartland Alliance, please visit their webpage.