Serving the Community
Serving the Community
Dr. Samuelson and her students are actively involved in conducting pro bono work with asylum seekers. Typically, asylum seekers are survivors or torture or persecution in their home countries. Dr. Samuelson has worked with Physicians for Human Rights (phr.org) since 2011, providing psychological trauma-focused evaluations for asylum seekers. Currently, she supervises UCCS doctoral clinical psychology students in conducting these evaluations. In the last seven years, Samuelson has conducted or supervised more than 50 psychological evaluations as a pro-bono contractor with the Physicians for Human Rights, with over 90 percent of the cases granted asylum.
Dr. Samuelson describes: “Prior research has shown that when psychological and medical evaluations are conducted to support an asylee’s asylum case, the likelihood of being granted rises considerably. In training the next generation of trauma psychologists at UCCS, I emphasize to my students the important of psychologists allotting a portion of their clinical practice as pro bono. There are far more asylum seekers needing psychological evaluations than there are psychologists who have the willingness or expertise to provide them."
In 2018, Dr. Samuelson had the opportunity to travel to Dilley, Texas where she spent a week volunteering with the Dilley Pro Bono Project. The Dilley Pro Bono Project represents immigrant mothers and children who are detained at the South Texas Family Residential Center. The majority of families detained there are fleeing extreme violence in Central America and are seeking asylum in the United States. She provided pro bono psychological evaluations and prepared detained immigrants for their initial asylum interviews. Physicians for Human Rights funded her travel.
To hear more about this project, listen to the first episode of the "Eye of the Storm" podcast hosted by the THHC called "Trauma, Asylum Seeking, and the Dilley Pro Bono Project". For link, click here.
Dr. Samuelson is retained as an expert witness in legal proceedings involving trauma broadly, and PTSD, TBI, memory, dissociation, symptom validity, pain, and cognitive functioning specifically. She and her students are especially interested in assisting sexual assault survivors throughout their legal processes, using trauma research to help jurors and judges make sense of trauma reactions in this population. The lab has developed a program entitled "Resilience Advocates", partnering with El Paso County Special Victims Unit to help sexual assault survivors manage the stress of testifying.
Dr. Samuelson and her lab members have partnered with a school district in Colorado Springs to deliver cognitive and psychological resilience training to high schoolers. The lab, and the Trauma PhD track in general, is dedicated to sharing our expertise in resilience and trauma through community service projects.