T.A. was only 16 years old, when the Cordelia’s therapist met him at a Hungarian reception centre. He spoke a unique African language, so at first it was hard to communicate with him, but fortunately the Foundation was able to find an interpreter. As the translator was also new to this kind of work, the therapist gave a short briefing to him both about psychology and the linguistic peculiarities. After he was briefed by the therapist, they visited T.A. at the reception centre.
It turned out that he came from a well-off and educated family, who owned lands in his hometown in Eastern Africa. However, his family did not belong to the dominant ethnic group and the dominant ethnic group’s militia attacked their home, where he lived happily and in peace with his parents and sibling (T.A. also went to school in this town). During the attack many of his family members were killed, their house and their lands were burned down. Thankfully, he managed to escape.
For a while, he was hiding in the bushes near his home, but unfortunately members of the militia found him and took him to a military camp. They wanted him to join the militia. He refused, so they punished him, tortured him, hit him regularly with the club of a gun, starved him, denied him water and forced him to do hard, physical labour. After 2 weeks, he was able to escape.
He made it all the way to Europe, to Hungary, where he received a refugee status (at that time, the country was much more welcoming and it was easier to get the status). When our therapist first met him at the reception centre, it seemed like he doesn’t have any symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder. This wasn’t surprising at all, because in many cases, the symptoms only appear after some time. Others show no symptoms at all, only after a confidential relationship was built, do they speak about their complaints. It was very hard to create the correct relationship with the therapist, as he was hiding his symptoms through his politeness. After several conversations however they were able to establish the trust needed for the therapy and they started the process his traumas.
Shortly after starting the therapy his PTSD symptoms (distress, fear, bad mood, loss of perspective, nightmares, severe sleeping disorder and loss of appetite) appeared, due to which he got into a very bad state. He didn’t hear anything from his family since he left they had completely lost any form of communication, so he was deeply mourning them. As he was so young, providing medicinal treatment was not even an option, so the therapist started a dynamically oriented psychotherapy with him.
He was very cooperative, turned up for every session. The translator was also doing a great job, he was translating the traumatic therapy material perfectly. Due to the therapy the boy got better and was able to continue his studies in Hungary. With the help of the Foundation he got into a Hungarian language course, where he learned the language perfectly. The language course brought success: he became a straight A student, graduated high school and decided to apply to law school, but to non other then Berkeley in California. He was accepted and was able to fly to America with a scholarship.
When he finished his studies at the university and graduated, he became a lawyer and started to help asylum seekers with their legal cases. He lives in a relationship.
* In order to protect the client’s rights relating to personality we have changed her name and some minor details in the story.