Amber’s pioneering work in refugee mental health and torture treatment began in 1994, when her experience with young children in a devastated village in Rwanda just months after the genocide, altered the course of her life’s work. Having worked in International Development and Humanitarian Aid, and as a bodyworker, Amber was interested in bridging those worlds. This auspicious meeting with a handful of children who were the sole survivors in a remote village, and who extended their welcome through song, dance and drumming with literal shards of waste from the war, forever changed Amber’s world. Amber chose to study Somatic Psychology and Dance/Movement therapy so that her clinical training would include non-verbal and creative approaches. Recognizing the extreme abuses of power that are at the core of all human rights violations—war, torture, trafficking, programming – Amber intentionally chose a path that would bridge empowerment with her clinical work.
Since 1998, Amber’s work as a human rights psychotherapist — Licensed Mental Health Professional, Somatic Psychotherapist, Board Certified Dance/Movement Therapist, Yoga and Movement Therapist, Continuum practitioner and teacher — and her community-based public/mental health work in complex humanitarian emergencies and disaster zones, has been emergent (or, at the emergent edge of the field). She was a founding member of the NCTTP: The National Consortium for Torture Treatment Programs, in 1998. As a member of that organization, she served on the executive committee for 2 years, and was chair of the training committee and the clinical committee that developed best practices for torture treatment. She was senior clinician and then Clinical Director of the Rocky Mountain Survivors Center in Denver for 5 years; established and served as Program Director of the Program for Victims of Organized Violence in Haiti in 2004, and established New Mexico’s Refugee Mental Health Program, which she directed for 7 years, in 2006. She won the 2010 Outstanding Achievement Award for her work as a Dance/Movement Therapist in earthquake ravaged Haiti, and her ongoing work of many years with survivors of human rights violations. She was also nominated for the Barbara Chester Human Rights Award in 2015 and 2019, and was recently interviewed as one of ten peer-nominated torture treatment experts globally.
- Clinical supervision
- Clinical consultation and mentoring
- Program start-up
- Developing service and provider networks
- Ethics in clinical program development
- Program development and evaluation
- Self-care training and services
- Staff care programming
She has worked with programs and clinicians in Lebanon, Jordan, Sudan, Chad, Republic of Georgia, Moldova, Ethiopia, Mexico, Nepal, Cambodia, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Haiti. She provides supervision regularly to clinicians working with refugees and survivors of torture, and provides training and consultation on clinical and staff support programming on a regular basis.
Amber began to integrate her diverse training in service of supporting survivors and refugees to inhabit their bodies in the way that they choose, and to re-engage with life, in 1998, and has been innovating, creating and co-creating ever since.