Inclusive Human Trafficking Model: A Multicultural Perspective to Assessment and Intervention

Human trafficking is a systematic process of exploitation of human vulnerability. In a globalized and multicultural world, many victims share the commonality of having vulnerable or stigmatized identities, which have been exploited in trafficking situations. Typically, the systematic exploitation of intersecting identities such as gender, age, socioeconomic status, race, immigration status, language, disability, sexual minority status, type of work performed, history of trauma and/or drug abuse is part of the common narratives of many victims. Traffickers foster existing social biases to capitalize on victim's vulnerabilities. Therefore, the identification of victims and subsequent intervention and treatment should be directly linked to the understanding of identity-based vulnerability. Likewise, recovery interventions should be concerned with these issues. 

The Inclusive Human Trafficking Model (IHTM) is an evidenced based assessment and intervention methodology meant for multidisciplinary use. It offers a collection of interventions from mental health and civil rights perspectives intended to increase the understanding of exploited identity-based vulnerabilities and foster positive and healthy identity development in victims.  

The model underwent a rigorous validation process. The results revealed that the utilization of the model improves victim identification by 40 % when compared to business as usual conditions, as well as increased rater sensitivity in regards to issues of human vulnerability. In this workshop we will introduce the IHTM,  discuss utilization implications for case conceptualization and share intervention strategies that can help victims regain a healthy sense of self as they navigate mental health, advocacy and legal services. 



Outline/Structure of the Workshop

  1. Sharing short victim vignettes. (5 minutes) 

The workshop will start with sharing vignettes based on actual cases that elucidate issues of exploded identity-based vulnerability as well as the intersecting identities present in the victim narrative. 

  1.  Explanation of the model theoretical underpinnings and research findings. (15 Minutes) 

The main hypothesis operationalized and tested in this model is that human trafficking is an interaction between social vulnerability and exploitation. We evaluated vulnerability by exploring different aspects of the victim’s identity (i.e., gender, age, race, socioeconomic, disability, sexual orientation and type of work performed). We evaluated exploitation by quantifying behaviors and/or attitudes of forceful, coercive, or fraudulent nature that were perpetrated against the victim. One of the main findings suggest that forms of exploitation are often nuanced based on the way someone self identifies. For instance, removing assisting devises is a nuanced form of force against someone with a disability. Consequently, victims often develop very conflicting relationships with some aspects of their identities. This has significant impact on physical and mental health.  Participants will be exposed to issues of intersecting identity development and the impact of exploitation on normal development. This will open a discussion into the next session on assessment, and intervention-planning.

  1. Explanation of the assessment methodology scoring and interpretation of findings. (20 Minutes)  

One of the main contributions of this model is the introduction of the Inclusive Human Trafficking Checklist (IHTC) as an assessment and intervention-planning instrument. This is a 55 item checklist, which goal is to facilitate the identification of the type of crime committed against the victim and provide a score that should alert the practitioner to the level of vulnerability based exploitation that the victim endured. This score can be utilized to give clients feedback about their experience, conceptualize cases, design interventions and share information with other professionals. We will apply the instrument to the vignette shared at the beginning of the session. 

  1. Explanation of implication for mental health providers based on psycho educational and traumatic narrative techniques. (15 Minutes) 

Once we have obtained the results of the instrument application, we will go through a process of establishing goals and revising interventions that can have multidisciplinary purposes. Victims of human trafficking face a very difficult dilemma. While current methodologies of trauma recovery call for enhancement of coping skills before creating a trauma narrative, the legal system is based on having victims serve as witnesses. Many times victims have to repeat processes of invasive nature such as repeating their story over and over, or getting confusing feedback (my attorney wants me to prepare a client victim statement, but my therapist said that I should first learn coping skills before capitulating my story). We will share techniques that can enhance multidisciplinary collaboration settings such as safety planning vs. emotional safety planning, preparation of client's victim statement, or trauma/ healing narrative. We will discuss classical notions of trauma psychology such as understanding of triggers and grounding techniques. However, we will explore the process of trigger when clients are reacting to stimulus that evoke responses related to their own traumatized identities. We will discuss these techniques with the goal in mind of facilitating healthy identity development and identity integration. The main presenter will discuss examples from experiences with human trafficking victims from different areas of the world (i.e., US, Colombia, Germany) and further evidence the application of the model. 

  1. Discussion (5 Minutes) 

Participants will be invited to ask questions and discuss their experience in the workshop 

Learning Outcome

1. Understand the theoretical underpinnings and practical implications of the model 

2. Gain insight about the relationship between exploitation and identity based vulnerability. 

3. Gain assessment abilities by learning how to apply, score and interpret the assessment tool proposed by the model.

4. Gain a new multicultural perspective in regards to intervention/ treatment planning. 

5. Gain knowledge of specific interventions that can be utilized in multidisciplinary processes for instance, victim impact statement in legal arenas and trauma narrative in mental health or safety planning vs. emotional safety planning.    


Target Audience

Mental Health and Legal Professionals

schedule Submitted 7 years ago