Testimony therapy includes individual counseling, whereby the
clients told their life stories, including traumatic events, and
counselors provided support and documented the details of the
narratives. After sessions, the counselors transcribed the narratives,
which were compiled into books for the clients.
Next, a culturally
adapted ceremony involved a Buddhist ritual and a truth-telling event to
which community members and non-governmental organization
representatives were invited.
‘Testimony therapy plus ceremony reduced symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression among Khmer Rouge torture survivors from across Cambodia.’
A study shows that this intervention, testimony therapy
plus ceremony, reduced symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder,
anxiety, and depression among Khmer Rouge torture survivors from across
"We found that testimony therapy was effective at reducing the
symptoms of anxiety, depression, and PTSD among Khmer Rouge survivors.
This is especially notable because the intervention was brief (five
days), culturally adapted (and adaptable), and was conducted in a low
resource context," said Dr. Jennifer Esala, co-author of the Journal of Traumatic Stress
"We hope that these findings encourage researchers to continue
to study testimony therapy more closely and for practitioners to
consider its applicability in their work."
Co-author Sopheap Taing noted that participants often shared their
experiences related to the ceremony component of the intervention. "[It]
is a healing process that allows us to honor the deceased person and to
feel forgiveness towards the perpetrators and to let it go," said one
participant. "When it comes to our suffering, [it] means taking the
thorn out from our heart. If we keep it there, it will still hurt us."