2023 MTF Research Award: Center for Victims of Torture

Posted:Friday, October 27, 2023



Massage Therapy Foundation Awards $300,000 Research Grant
to Center for Victims of Torture

(Evanston, Ill., October 27, 2023)  The Massage Therapy Foundation (MTF) announces the award of a $300,000 research grant to the Center for Victims of Torture (CVT), St. Paul, Minnesota. The grant supports a groundbreaking three-year study titled “Trauma-Informed and Culturally-Responsive Integrated Massage Therapy (TCI-Massage),” led by Primary Investigator Dr. Jennifer Esala.

Founded as the first non-governmental center for rehabilitative care for survivors of torture in the United States, the CVT has expanded its mission globally over the decades, providing crucial support and advocacy to individuals throughout Africa, parts of the Middle East, and the United States. CVT defines torture as the infliction of physical or psychological pain and suffering by or at the behest of any member in a position of power, with beatings being the most common form.

CVT has identified a pressing need for effective interventions utilizing trauma-informed approaches to massage therapy for adult torture and war-surviving victims through its extensive work. Alarmingly, there is a significant gap in the research literature regarding culturally-responsive approaches to massage therapy and strategies for integrating language services. This knowledge void is particularly concerning as more than 1.3 million people in the United States alone identify as survivors of torture related to war, incarceration, policing, refugee or asylum-seeking experiences, or domestic brutality. Additionally, millions worldwide need similar support.

Currently, no evidence-based guidance exists for providing massage therapy to populations at the intersection of severe trauma and cultural-linguistic diversity. The TCI-Massage research project represents a groundbreaking first step in codifying a trauma-informed, culturally responsive, and linguistically adapted integrated model of massage therapy.

Dr. Cynthia Price, director of the Center for Mindful Body Awareness and research professor at the University of Washington, has joined the research team as a consultant and mentor, bringing expertise in Mindful Awareness in Body-oriented Therapy and therapist self-care to enrich the study’s outcomes.

“This study has the potential to affect life-changing results for populations in a state of extreme vulnerability, furthering cultural understanding, communication, and appropriate care for those who have experienced trauma and abuse,” said Adrienne F. Asta, President of Massage Therapy Foundation.

Funding for this research project was provided through the Massage Therapy Foundation with the support of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), consistent with its mission to advance the art, science, and practice of massage therapy.

“AMTA is proud to support this crucial three-year research study on trauma-informed and culturally-responsive approaches to massage therapy, as an effective intervention for individuals who have experienced torture and abuse. We hope this research can lead to more specialized care for those who need it most,” said Christine Bailor-Goodlander, AMTA National President.

About the Massage Therapy Foundation

The Massage Therapy Foundation is a 501(c)3 public charity supporting scientific research, education, and community service for the massage therapy profession. The Foundation founded and publishes an open-access, peer-reviewed scientific journal and provides many educational resources for massage therapists, educators, and students. MTF is an independent organization that promotes international scientific and technical collaboration through grants, resources, training, and services.

About the American Massage Therapy Association

The American Massage Therapy Association, the most trusted name in massage therapy, is the largest non-profit, professional association serving massage therapists, massage students, and massage schools. The association is directed by volunteer leadership and fosters ongoing, direct member involvement through its 51 chapters. AMTA works to advance the profession through ethics and standards, the promotion of fair and consistent licensing of massage therapists in all states, and public education on the benefits of massage.


For more information about this grant and the groundbreaking research, please contact:
Gini Ohlson, Executive Director, 847.905.1520 gohlson@massagetherapyfoundation.org

Looking for more? Read an article about this study on the CVT site