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Danielle Begg

photo-danielle-begg-landscapeDanielle is passionate about yoga and social impact and teaches trauma sensitive yoga classes for refugees. Danielle is the Co-Founder of the Refugee Yoga Project, she also manages and teaches the yoga program at STARTTS (New South Wales Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors), is a Policy Officer at STARTTS and is a representative on the New South Wales Department of Multicultural Affairs Regional Advisory Council. She is a registered yoga teacher and holds a Bachelor of Psychological Science (Honours) from the University of Queensland and a Master of Science from Oxford University. She is currently undertaking Harvard Medical School’s Global Mental Health: Refugee Trauma and Recovery Program. She is a recipient of the Centenary Medal, awarded for a distinguished contribution to social justice.

Abstract – Clinical Presentation – 23 May 2017

Yoga Treatment for Refugee Torture and Trauma Survivors

As worldwide displacement continues to increase, so too does the number of refugees experiencing torture and trauma. There is an increasing recognition of the importance of the brain and body in trauma-related symptoms, and an increasing interest in the use of mind-body therapies as a part of treatment. However, there has been very little published research on the use of yoga with refugees.

STARTTS recently conducted an evaluation on the refugee yoga program. The aims were to: 1) assess the feasibility and acceptability of a yoga group program for refugee participants; 2) identify possible physiological, psychological and interpersonal benefits; and 3) explore counsellor and participant attitudes and experiences. The research was carried out with four client groups including: a mixed group of Arabic speakers, Tamil, Bhutanese and Mandaean clients. In this presentation Danielle Begg will explore how Yoga was utilised as a part of STARTTS’ biopsychosocial holistic approach, taking into account cultural awareness and sensitivity, working together with counsellors as well as highlighting the importance of using an interpreter.

It will also discuss both quantitative and qualitative outcomes of the yoga program, and considerations for program design.

Preliminary data provides evidence for the acceptability and sustainability of this program for refugee clients, with benefits observed across physical, psychological and interpersonal domains.

Conclusion: Weekly yoga classes show promise as an adjunct treatment for refugees who experienced torture and trauma. Danielle will discuss her experiences with tailoring both the program and the evaluation to participants with a range of backgrounds, physical abilities and literacy levels.

Recorded lecture published at

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