Client Stories

El Salvador

Mr. S is a 31yr old native of El Salvador.  His history included sexual abuse, kidnapping, and recruitment into the guerilla forces.  He was referred to CST by his lawyer for a psychological evaluation to support his asylum application and for treatment recommendations. At the time of intake, Mr. S was Spanish-speaking monolingual, unemployed, and had been living in the United States for almost 12 years without ever seeking treatment due to shame of his past.  At CST, Mr. S received intensive counseling with a Spanish speaking therapist, who also offered his time to interpret for Mr. S’s psychiatric evaluation and medication management sessions.  Mr. S received extensive case management services and was referred to the AACI Health Clinic for preexisting medical conditions. With the support of CST, Mr. S began his path to recovery.  Upon being granted political asylum in March 2010, his CST Case Manager immediately assisted him in applying for refugee benefits.  Currently, Mr. S continues to receive ongoing supportive counseling and psychiatry services.  His English has improved dramatically, and he is employed and financially stable.  He and his wife recently gave birth to their first child.


Ms. A was referred to CST by a fellow Iranian writer.  She was arrested at the age of 16 and sentenced to 3 years in Evin, a prison in Tehran notorious for its ruthless treatment of political activists, for participating in a book club which discussed prohibited books in Iran. After her release, she continued her education and went on to receive a dental doctorate degree.  However, she remained under surveillance by the Iranian government and was prohibited from practicing dentistry in her country.  When she was first seen by CST staff she was facing homelessness, relying solely on the generosity of friends for financial assistance and shelter.  She was evaluated by a CST psychologist to support her asylum claim and was referred for psychiatric treatment, counseling, medical care, and case management services in order to address her psychological distress as a result of the effects of cumulative trauma: brainwashing, witnessing the torture of others and the execution of those who did not comply with jail personnel, and a lifetime of surveillance and repression. Her asylum was approved within 6 months.  Her CST case manager helped her find full-time employment and she was able to move out on her own.  Writing short stories and poems has now become her passion, and she is currently working on publishing her memoir.  Since becoming a 2010 grant recipient for writers around the world who have experienced political persecution, she has received international recognition and feels that “somebody cared, and after months and months I finally felt that a window had opened up.”


Ms. P was an asylum seeker whose case had been pending in immigration court for over 10 years when she was referred to CST by her attorney.  Her history included female genital mutilation, rape, and death threats by the Nigerian government due to her involvement in a youth movement to protest the government’s actions in the Niger Delta.  Upon assessment, she was found to exhibit symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).  She felt detached from others and reported suicidal thoughts relating to constant fear of being deported back to Nigeria.  Ms. P was referred for counseling, psychiatric treatment and case management services.  During the course of her asylum, Ms. P received extensive emotional support from her therapist and case manager.  CST also provided a psychological evaluation to support her asylum application as well as expert testimony on the day of her individual hearing.  After 10 years of living in limbo, Ms. P was finally granted asylum in October 2010.  She finally feels able to rebuild her life here with the safety of asylum behind her.  Ms. P currently works full-time as a Licensed Vocational Nurse and is pursuing her degree as a Registered Nurse.  She continues to meet regularly with her therapist at CST as she believes it is crucial to her healing and recovery.  Her future goal is to return to Africa and help her people through relief work.