Trainee views

Below some former trainees provide a brief account of their training experiences at DABATEM.

Interns (September 2014 – June 2015)

Alex Hammerslough, Sociologist, USA

trainee views

Alex Hammerslough, Sociologist, USA

Hello, my name is Alex and I am a former clinical intern at DABATEM. From 2013 to 2014 I completed a masters degree in Sociology at the University of Essex in the United Kingdom. As my last term at Essex started, I started making plans for the future. While I had interviewed many different people while conducting research, I did not feel that I had experienced enough of the research opportunities outside of academia to justify applying for doctoral programs that year. While doing some research on other opportunities abroad from my home (the United States), I stumbled upon DABATEM’s website and immediately applied to their clinical internship. My enthusiasm for DABATEM was borne out of several unique aspects of the organization itself.

Growing up in the United States, there is little opportunity to work with vulnerable, non-American populations that are not migrants. The fact that DABATEM worked with refugees piqued my interest, since refugees are very different than economic migrants in terms of societal interactions and integration. The location in Istanbul was another intriguing aspect of the internship. Aside from the opportunity to continue living abroad in an amazing city, Turkey is at a crossroads in terms of political and social movements. Understanding how refugees would negotiate live within a nation in flux was extremely interesting. The final reason that I chose DABATEM was the wealth of research that Ebru Salcioglu and Metin Basoglu had conducted over the last twenty-five years. The fact that they operated a research institution that produced such high quality work and was independent is impressive in itself, their focus on PTSD and mass-treatment just made me more interested.

The reason that DABATEM has been so helpful for my personal academic development is the hands-on approach that they take towards learning and research. Seeing the entire process of writing an academic article using quantitative methodology has been an invaluable experience. Although the focus of DABATEM is in psychology, my background in sociology has helped me see the larger implications of trauma as a psychological and sociological phenomena, and has made me reconsider much of my education: Theorists like Giorgio Agamben and Michel Foucault were visionary in describing how nationhood has changed many rules of human life. Even if you are treated as a second class citizen in your home country, you are still a citizen, which refugees cannot be by default. The sheer helplessness that refugees feel in the face of international bureaucratic quagmires has effects at the individual and societal level, and in many ways is similar to the helplessness of traumatic experiences which can engender PTSD to begin with.

I would have been unable to see the political, social and psychological realities of life as a refugee in Turkey, while simultaneously gaining strong skills in empirical quantitative methodology, at any other institution besides DABATEM. I really am extremely lucky to have been given this opportunity and I hope that others will follow my steps and expand themselves professionally and personally at DABATEM.

Email contact: a.hammerslough@gmail.com



Rachel Clarke, Psychologist, United Kingdom

Gold-standard research, clinical experience and a socio-political perspective are all part of the training with DABATEM. Having a global perspective of what is happening in the world has helped develop my thinking about psychological treatment, not only on an individual level, but also on a mass scale. With a high standard of research, DABATEM has helped turn our colossal ideas into manageable research projects. For example, we have looked into whether forgiveness is associated with PTSD recovery, as it is often part of societal healing initiatives brought from the west. Finally, actually observing clinical cases helps inform theory, and helps you understand how to motivate people from other countries with a different mind frame to western psychology.

I first decided to come to DABATEM whilst working in Saudi Arabia. I had met many people from countries, such as the Philippines, who had come to Saudi as part of the modern slave trade and was very impressed by their resilience. My friends were also Saudi women, Lebanese, Egyptian, Palestinian or Syrian, and hearing their stories made me realise that trauma wasn’t as rare as I had once thought. As my interest in the Middle East became stronger, so did my interest in trauma. DABATEM’s high quality research is what really drew me to choose this as my next career move, as well as its clinical basis, which I hope to adopt in my work in the future.

I now feel like I’m an observer looking in on psychological care of refugees worldwide. Weekly discussions have helped me develop a picture not only of refugee care but also other mental health services, such as those in the UK and USA. Bi-monthly meetings with other NGO’s has also helped me develop an understanding of the realistic expectations of refugee aid in countries such as Turkey. These meeting also provided opportunities for collaboration. For example, I’ve written a document to help intern lawyers working with cases with mental health problems in another NGO.

Professionally and personally, DABATEM have guided me to a place of no return, with a new gestalt awareness of the world and a keener eye on research. I’ve had opportunities to grow exponentially, with realistic study designs given to monumental ideas. I would highly recommend this experience to anyone, and Turkey is quite pretty too!

Rachel, BSc Psychology

Trainee journal

Below is a current trainee’s periodic accounts of the ongoing training process:


Sıla Ulutaş, Senior Psychology Student in Boğaziçi University, Turkey

Email contact: silaulutas@hotmail.com

May 9, 2019

Being born and raised in Istanbul give rise to genuine life experience and a sensitive vision, if the person has some social awareness. When the time came to decide which discipline and field to apply for an undergraduate degree, I bore in mind not only my personal interests but also the collective and social memory of this region.

I have always aspired to study on war/armed conflict trauma in the academic realm. However, it was not easy to find an opportunity for intellectual and academic education based on sound theory- and evidence-based approach.

I studied at the first ranked university in Turkey for social sciences, which has a psychodynamic orientation in clinical psychology. However, I did reading on other perspectives and theories in addition to the curriculum of my university.

Then I had found Professor Basoglu’s studies and articles. As the first glance, I was really impressed by his extraordinary hypotheses, advanced use of research methods and statistical analysis. As soon as I read enough to understand what he argues constitutively, I got in contact with him.

Unsurprisingly, his expectations from his prospective students are fairly high. Therefore, the phase of interviews was quite challenging. He is looking for students with strong motivation and enthusiasm about the tutorship program.

Today we started the training program on Control-Focused Behavioral Treatment. As preparation for the first week, he asked me to read certain parts of one of his books: A Mental Healthcare Model for Mass Trauma Survivors. The book offers a very concise understanding of learning theory and CFBT. However, it does not mean that it is easy to internalize all the information and ideas in the book.

For the first week, we have focused on the learning theory model of torture, war, and earthquake trauma. His model mentioned in that book was fascinating for me for the first look. After we discussed it together it became more comprehensible for me. Furthermore, his field experiences have nourished all his teaching. He has numerous anecdotes for each topic that help the student to embody the topics that are studied.

Since I had most of my undergraduate courses in psychodynamic approach, I frequently asked him questions comparing his model and psychodynamic models. He answered all my questions patiently. Moreover, he let me brainstorm with him to enhance my understanding of trauma in general.

I am interested in child psychopathology and contemporary refugee issues in our region and hoping to undertake a treatment study with traumatized Syrian refugee children at some point. Professor Basoglu asked me to read his chapter on his mental healthcare model for mass trauma survivors and prepare a research design based on this model. This will be one of my tasks during the training period.