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What our alumni are saying about the Global Mental Health: Trauma and Recovery Certificate Program

Watch interviews with participants by faculty member Robert Brooks, on-site in Porano, Italy, November 2012:

Interviews with GMH Participants, Year 7 from HPRT on Vimeo.

Ben Porter, Uganda – Year 1

Founder / CEO The Recreation Project

The Global Mental Health program of the Harvard Program for Refugee Trauma was instrumental in the development of The Recreation Project. We use re—creation because we believe that re-creating ourselves is an important life skill in navigating the murky aftermath of violence and trauma. During my time in Italy I met some of the most creative students and inviting mentors who encouraged me to think about recovery from trauma holistically as I moved from a traditional model of psychotherapy to an experiential and adventure-based model of therapy in post-conflict northern Uganda. One important theme of the program is “Healing Space” and all students are challenged to think about space as a component to recovery. Children who walk into our forest do so with wide eyes and the radical change of scenes prepares them to learn something new about themselves and the people around them.

Mick Hirsch, Cambodia – Year 1

I came to the GMH program as a young spiritual care practitioner. Initially, I felt intimidated by my peers’ vast experience and uncertain about my own contribution to healing invisible wounds. HPRT, however, boosted my confidence by situating me within a community of practice where interdisciplinary colleagues from around the world learn together and work together. I remember discussing “empathy” with the eminent psychoanalyst Franco Paparo; and the masterful analyses of case studies by HPRT faculty continue to influence the way I interact with individual clients facing complex situations. Today, I am working in Cambodia, developing an innovative self-reliance program for urban refugees, striving to re-vision the cityscape as a healing environment for displaced peoples.

Katharine Knoetze, Australia – Year 5

Participation not only broadened my theoretical knowledge base, but refined my understanding of the factors that contribute towards healing & recovery and how these may be woven into a therapeutic relationship that considers the complex interaction of whole-of-life, culture, trauma and mental health. One of the greatest gifts has been ongoing communication with and support from the faculty, as well as a facilitated introduction to my current supervisor who is internationally respected in this field. I am inspired; doors have opened; totally worth it!

Jeff Lowenstein, USA – Year 5

The Global Mental Health Trauma and Recovery program has been an important influence in my life since my participation in the fall of 2010 and follow up work that finished May 2011. Meeting, studying with and learning from mental health practitioners, academics, lawyers, researchers and human rights workers from around the world helped expand my personal and professional horizons, and has provided me with tremendously rich journalistic material. I have drawn on specific information I learned during the program and applied what Richard and Jim shared about the program’s growth to my work as president of the Dart Society, an international organization of journalists committed to covering issues of trauma and violence with sensitivity and compassion. Ongoing connections with classmates and instructors have been an additional source of personal pleasure and professional enrichment.

Taiwo Lateef Sheikh, Nigeria – Year 6

Dear Maria, with deep sense of humility, I join others in thanking you Maria for imparting the skill of video production on most of us. At Orvieto, I initially thought it would be a mission impossible, but gradually before we finally left the training site, I began to conceptualize the workings. Let me congratulate you Maria for producing a Producer and Director in me! After my healing environment video, I have produced and directed a twenty (20) minute video of the activities of my hospital which has won me an award from the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria, in April 2012. I am indeed very grateful to you. Taiwo.


Jeanne Marie Ntete, Rwanda – Year 7

I, Jeanne Marie, a Rwandese, am working with people affected by Tutsi genocide in Rwanda and its aftermath, have all along got interest in GMH TR program. I owe my appreciation to HPRT who allowed me the opportunity to participate in that program. Personally and professionally, I benefited quite a lot during the whole program from all presenters both in Italy and in our group forum discussion online. Of all the benefits, new frame work of mental health recovery composed by 8 elements improved my trauma and recovery approaches trough implementation. Narrative therapy and standardized curriculum toolkit helped me to work with torture survivors and emphasized that there is no single intervention and from there we have established networking with others in my place of work and neighbors. I have experienced and improved the healing approach through dialogue to attain empathetic listening, considering healing environment and cross cultural curriculum.


Tatyana Rapaport, USA – Year 8

The learning experience was growth enhancing, both professionally and personally. The worldwide contacts extremely beneficial. I enthusiastically recommend this course.



Ashish Kumar, United Kingdom – Year 10
Consultant General Internal Medicine

The Harvard GMH program on Trauma & Recovery/ HPRT was not only exceptional, but exceeded all my expectations. The curriculum provided understanding and useful tools for the management of refugee trauma. The faculty was totally accessible and extremely knowledgeable. I learned and worked with amazing people from other helping professions, made new friendships and met like-minded colleagues. But, the scope was much broader than factors of trauma and recovery strategies. I gained new skills and insights into my own experiences and interest in workplace trauma. This program helped provide me with the foundation for my future work with healthcare workers suffering trauma. I will always be grateful for this valuable, everlasting learning experience. I would highly recommend this course to anyone with a desire to understand and heal those who suffer from trauma, including oneself

Gina de la Chesnaye, USA – Year 11 

There was a moment in the Villa Paolina, everyone gathered together for a lecture – surrounded by beautiful frescos upon the walls, when I looked around the room at my global cohort of 75 people and the brilliant faculty of the HPRT and thought – This is truly amazing. Every single person here is deeply involved and indebted to helping others. There is such strength and sustenance in that. Many of us had witnessed extreme suffering whether in our own lives and/or in the lives of others. And yet, here we were – gathered together to learn more, share more, and grow not only as individuals but as a community of practitioners dedicated to the healing of others. The HPRT program is a gift not only in its resources, education, and skill-gathering but in creating and fostering a deeply heartfelt allegiance to what we do backed with decades of knowledge, research and experience. My understanding of trauma and recovery – in cultural, physical and emotional contexts increased exponentially. I am inspired every day by the work of my colleagues and the faculty. Stepping into the program felt like coming home and finding my tribe – a wise, skilled tribe that moves forward into this world with blazing light.

Laura Morrissette, USA – Year 13

The global mental health certificate program has been a profoundly transformative learning/life experience for me! This program helped me find my voice. Engaging in the community of practice has helped me to recognize that I have unique experiences, education, and perspective that I can share confidently with my classmates in the course and in this manner can contribute and make a positive impact in the work that my colleagues are engaged in around the world. This growing confidence in my ability to express my thoughts and feelings to my peers is also carrying over to how I express myself in the work place.  I have often felt shy and reserved in academic and work environments so this new found confidence is quite significant!

Watch how Year 5 participants spontaneously celebrate on the last day of the on-site part of the course in Italy, November 2010:

GMH Celebration from HPRT on Vimeo.