Human Trafficking Community Research Hub (HTCRH)

Welcome to William James College's Human Trafficking Community Research Hub (HTCRH) that aims to address the mental health and psychological consequences of human trafficking with research in collaboration with communities. Anti-trafficking efforts have progressed substantially in the United States since Congress passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (2000). Awareness of human trafficking and identification of affected populations has increased significantly over the last decade and generated a growing need for specialized health and social services. William James College's HTCRH and its community partners, together, evaluate human trafficking-specific services and engage in research that studies the concepts, tools, and best practices relevant to working with people affected by exploitation. A couple questions, among many, that HTCRH pursues to understand are: What are promising services to address the high levels of client mistrust commonly noted in this population? What are the benefits of combined peer mentorship and clinical services?

FS615: Human Trafficking: Introduction for Mental Health Providers

The course content includes a global overview of human trafficking and how the crime unfolds within the United States. The course reviews general human trafficking policy/legislation related to human trafficking, contentious debates that surround anti-trafficking work, cycles of supply and demand that fuel the crime, and human rights versus prosecution-focused discourse. The instructor facilitates discussions about one-to-one issues relevant to providing psychosocial services to persons affected by human trafficking. Students learn to identify the common dynamics of perpetration used by traffickers, their psychological consequences on victims, and the use of screening tools to identify victims and people at risk. Resources and legislation specific to working in Massachusetts will be a particular focus of the course, including invited class lectures by local professionals recognized for their work in human trafficking.

The Human Trafficking Community Research Hub (HTCRH) believes that research that is relevant practice needs to develop with the involvement of affected communities. Over the years HTCRH has sought and maintained partnerships with national and international community-based organizations that work with the issue of human trafficking. Additionally, HTCRH partners with individuals with lived experience who are a part of the research team and provide ongoing input on how to shape research that is meaningful to those affected by human trafficking.

Local Online Sex Market

William James College faculty in partnership with RIA House and the Imagine Foundation completed a three-month data-mining study. The study monitored the online commercial sex market in Massachusetts' Boston and Worcester regions from March 1 through May 31, 2015. The research team collected data on almost 17,000 ads for commercial sex that are estimated to have generated $7.7 million in revenue. Data on the number of people sold online for sex and the distribution of ads by day of the week allowed analysis of patterns in this market, and inferences of trends in the buying and selling of sex. In other U.S. cities, similar data mining studies have helped local law enforcement identify persons exploited within the sex industry and have also been instrumental for service organizations to develop targeted outreach.

The HTCRH team is in the final stages of analyzing the data from a study that was conducted to learn more about close relationships, adult attachment patterns, and the role these play in experiences of sexual exploitation. The study was completed in collaboration with a local anti-trafficking organization. Funding sources included William James College, International Psychoanalytic Association, Wisdom Lotus Foundation, Metrowest Foundation, and RIA, Inc. Research on adult attachment patterns and human trafficking is necessary because attachment concepts are abundant in the trafficking literature. For instance, the struggles that many trafficked people experience to leave their traffickers are thought to be partially attributable to a combination of attachment-related issues and the trafficker's psychologically coercive tactics1.

1Contreras, P.M., Kalivayalil, D. and Herman, J.L. (2016). Psychotherapy in the aftermath of human trafficking: Working through the consequences of coercion. Women and Therapy, 40(1-2), 7-11.

The following is a list of peer reviewed references and resources related to mental health and psychology practice with trafficked populations. Our team makes every effort to update these resources on a quarterly basis.

Updated on 8/18/18

Adult Psychotherapy

Contreras, P. M., Kallivayalil, D., and Herman, J. L. (2017). Psychotherapy in the aftermath of human trafficking: Working through the consequences of psychological coercion. Women and Therapy40(1-2), 31-54. doi:10.1080/02703149.2016.1205908

Countryman-Roswurm, K., and DiLollo, A. (2017). Survivor: A narrative therapy approach for use with sex trafficked women and girls. Women and Therapy40(1-2), 55-72. doi:10.1080/02703149.2016.1206782

Harding-Jones, C. (2018). Counselling sex-trafficked clients using trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy. Healthcare Counselling and Psychotherapy Journal18(2), 16-19.

Koleva, M. (2011). Psychodrama and the treatment of women victims of human trafficking: Research report. International Journal Of Psychotherapy15(1), 65-78.

Le, P. D. (2017). 'Reconstructing a sense of self': Trauma and coping among returned women survivors of human trafficking in Vietnam. Qualitative Health Research27(4), 509-519. doi:10.1177/1049732316646157

Oram, S., and Domoney, J. (2018). Responding to the mental health needs of trafficked women. Healthcare Counselling and Psychotherapy Journal18(2), 10-15.

Pascual-Leone, A., Kim, J., and Morrison, O. (2017). Working with victims of human trafficking. Journal Of Contemporary Psychotherapy47(1), 51-59. doi:10.1007/s10879-016-9338-3

Robjant, K., Roberts, J., and Katona, C. (2017). Treating posttraumatic stress disorder in female victims of trafficking using narrative exposure therapy: A retrospective audit. Frontiers In Psychiatry863. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2017.00063


Hopper, E. K. (2017). Trauma-informed psychological assessment of human trafficking survivors. Women and Therapy40(1-2), 12-30. doi:10.1080/02703149.2016.1205905

Child and Family Psychotherapy

Bennett-Murphy, L. M. (2012). Haunted: Treatment of a child survivor of human trafficking. Journal Of Infant, Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy11(2), 133-148. doi:10.1080/15289168.2012.673413

Sprang, G., and Cole, J. (2018). Familial Sex Trafficking of Minors: Trafficking Conditions, Clinical Presentation, and System Involvement. Journal of Family Violence, 33(3), 185-195.

Ijadi-Maghsoodi, R., Cook, M., Barnert, E. S., Gaboian, S., and Bath, E. (2016). Understanding and responding to the needs of commercially sexually exploited youth: Recommendations for the mental health provider. Child And Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics Of North America25(1), 107-122. doi:10.1016/j.chc.2015.08.007

Kleinschmidt, L. (2009). Keeping mother alive: Psychotherapy with a teenage mother following human trafficking. Journal Of Child Psychotherapy35(3), 262-275. doi:10.1080/00754170903234416

Surtees, R. (2017). What’s home? (Re)integrating children born of trafficking. Women and Therapy40(1-2), 73-100. doi:10.1080/02703149.2016.1206783

Crisis and Hospital Based Services

de Chesnay, M. (2013). Psychiatric-mental health nurses and the sex trafficking pandemic. Issues In Mental Health Nursing34(12), 901-907. doi:10.3109/01612840.2013.857200

Culture, Identity, Society and Racism

Bryant-Davis, T., and Tummala-Narra, P. (2017). Cultural oppression and human trafficking: Exploring the role of racism and ethnic bias. Women and Therapy, 40(1-2), 152-169. doi:10.1080/02703149.2016.1210964

Houston-Kolnik, J. D., Todd, N. R., and Wilson, M. (2016). Preliminary validation of the Sex Trafficking Attitudes Scale. Violence Against Women, 22(10), 1259-1281. doi:10.1177/1077801215621178

Le, P. D. (2017). 'Reconstructing a sense of self': Trauma and coping among returned women survivors of human trafficking in Vietnam. Qualitative Health Research, 27(4), 509-519. doi:10.1177/1049732316646157

Dhungel, R. (2017). 'You are a besya': Microaggressions experienced by trafficking survivors exploited in the sex trade. Journal Of Ethnic and Cultural Diversity In Social Work: Innovation In Theory, Research and Practice26(1-2), 126-138. doi:10.1080/15313204.2016.1272519

Ethical Issues

Davis, T. (2017). Art Therapy Exhibitions: Exploitation or Advocacy?. AMA Journal Of Ethics, 19(1), 98-106. doi:10.1001/journalofethics.2017.19.1.imhl1-1701

Group Interventions

Hickle, K. E., and Roe-Sepowitz, D. E. (2014). Putting the pieces back together: A group intervention for sexually exploited adolescent girls. Social Work With Groups: A Journal Of Community And Clinical Practice37(2), 99-113. doi:10.1080/01609513.2013.823838

Hopper, E. K., Azar, N., Bhattacharyya, S., Malebranche, D. A., and Brennan, K. E. (2018). STARS experiential group intervention: a complex trauma treatment approach for survivors of human trafficking. Journal Of Evidence-Informed Social Work15(2), 215-241. doi:10.1080/23761407.2018.1455616

Pierce, A. (. (2012). American Indian adolescent girls: vulnerability to sex trafficking, intervention strategies. American Indian and Alaska Native Mental Health Research: The Journal Of The National Center19(1), 37-56.

Human Trafficking of Ethnically and Racially Diverse People

Farley, M., Deer, S., Golding, J.M., Matthews, N., Lopez, G., Stark, C., and Hudon, E. The prostitution and trafficking of American Indian/Alaska Native women in Minnesota. American Indian and Alaska Native Mental Health Research, 23(1), 65-104.

Pierce, A. (. (2012). American Indian adolescent girls: vulnerability to sex trafficking, intervention strategies. American Indian and Alaska Native Mental Health Research: The Journal Of The National Center19(1), 37-56.

Human Trafficking of Gender Diverse People

Robitz, R., Gajaria, A., Stoklosa, H., Jones, E., and Baldwin, S. B. (2018). A young transgender woman with fatigue, malnutrition, and a previous suicide attempt. Psychiatric Annals, 48(3), 131-133.

Human Trafficking of Men and Boys

Cole, J. (2018). Service providers’ perspectives on sex trafficking of male minors: comparing background and trafficking situations of male and female victims. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 1-11.

Raney, R. F. (2017). Unseen victims of sex trafficking: While most people think of women and girls as the victims of human trafficking, men and boys are also at risk. American Psychological Association, 48(4).

Human Trafficking of Persons with Disabilities

Reid, J. A. (2018). Sex trafficking of girls with intellectual disabilities: an exploratory mixed methods study. Sexual Abuse, 30(2), 107-131.

Mental Health and Psychology Specific Reports and Resolutions

American Psychological Association. 2017. Resolution on Human Trafficking in the United States, Especially of Women and Girls. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Retrieved from:

American Psychoanalytic Association. 2015. Position Statement on Human Trafficking. New York, NY: American Psychoanalytic Association. Retrieved from:

American Psychological Association Task Force on Trafficking of Women and Girls. (2014). Report of the task force on trafficking of women and girls. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Retrieved from

Pastoral Counseling and Spirituality

Johnson, B. C. (2012). Aftercare for survivors of human trafficking. Social Work and Christianity39(4), 370-389.

Nguyen, T. T., Bellehumeur, C. R., and Malette, J. (2014). Women survivors of sex trafficking: A trauma and recovery model integrating spirituality. Counselling And Spirituality / Counseling Et Spiritualité33(1), 111-133.

Wolf, S. (2017). Sex trafficking: A counseling perspective. In H. D. Gingrich, F. C. Gingrich, H. D. Gingrich, F. C. Gingrich (Eds.) , Treating trauma in Christian counseling (pp. 278-301). Downers Grove, IL, US: InterVarsity Press.

Peer Support and Survivor Led Interventions and Research

Contreras, P.M. and Kallivayalil, D. (2019, January 15). How psychologists and peer mentors can work together to fight human trafficking in the United States. American Psychological Association: Psychology Benefits Society.

Gong, R. (2015). Indignation, inspiration, and interaction on the Internet: Emotion work online in the anti-human trafficking movement. Journal Of Technology In Human Services33(1), 87-103. doi:10.1080/15228835.2014.998988.

Heffron, L. C. (2013). Book review of Girls like us: Fighting for a world where girls are not for sale. Affilia: Journal Of Women and Social Work28(1), 101-102. doi:10.1177/0886109912475054.

Pierce, A. (2017). Survivor-led and survivor-informed human trafficking research: Confronting inequalities in the research process. Power-point presented during a webinar hosted by the APA’s Committee for Women in Psychology.


Borschmann, R., Oram, S., Kinner, S. A., Dutta, R., Zimmerman, C., and Howard, L. M. (2017). Self-harm among adult victims of human trafficking who accessed secondary mental health services in England. Psychiatric Services68(2), 207-210. doi:10.1176/

Cecchet, S. J., and Thoburn, J. (2014). The psychological experience of child and adolescent sex trafficking in the United States: Trauma and resilience in survivors. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, And Policy6(5), 482-493. doi:10.1037/a0035763

Deb, S., Mukherjee, A., and Mathews, B. (2011). Aggression in sexually abused trafficked girls and efficacy of intervention. Journal Of Interpersonal Violence26(4), 745-768. doi:10.1177/0886260510365875

Hemmings, S., Jakobowitz, S., Abas, M., Bick, D., Howard, L. M., Stanley, N., and ... Oram, S. (2016). Responding to the health needs of survivors of human trafficking: a systematic review. BMC Health Services Research16320. doi:10.1186/s12913-016-1538-8

Hossain, M., Zimmerman, C., Abas, M., Light, M., and Watts, C. (2010). The relationship of trauma to mental disorder among trafficked and sexually exploited girls and women. American Journal Of Public Health100(12), 2442-2449. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2009.173229

Oram, S., Abas, M., Bick, D., Boyle, A., French, R., Jakobowitz, S., and ... Zimmerman, C. (2016). Human trafficking and health: A survey of male and female survivors in England. American Journal Of Public Health106(6), 1073-1078. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2016.303095

Oram, S., Khondoker, M., Abas, M., Broadbent, M., and Howard, L. M. (2015). Characteristics of trafficked adults and children with severe mental illness: A historical cohort study. The Lancet Psychiatry2(12), 1084-1091.

Ottisova, L., Smith, P., and Oram, S. (2018). Psychological Consequences of Human Trafficking: Complex Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Trafficked Children. Behavioral Medicine44(3), 234-241.

Tsutsumi, A., Izutsu, T., Poudyal, A. K., Kato, S., and Marui, E. (2008). Mental health of female survivors of human trafficking in Nepal. Social Science and Medicine66(8), 1841-1847. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2007.12.025

Turner-Moss, E., Zimmerman, C., Howard, L. M., and Oram, S. (2014). Labour exploitation and health: A case series of men and women seeking post-trafficking services. Journal Of Immigrant And Minority Health16(3), 473-480. doi:10.1007/s10903-013-9832-6

Willis, B., Vines, D., Bubar, S., and Suchard, M. R. (2016). The health of children whose mothers are trafficked or in sex work in the U.S.: An exploratory study. Vulnerable Children And Youth Studies11(2), 127-135. doi:10.1080/17450128.2016.1189019

Zimmerman, C., and Pocock, N. (2013). Human trafficking and mental health: "my wounds are inside; they are not visible". Brown Journal Of World Affairs19(2), 265-280.

Residential Services

Maculan, B., Lozzi, E., and Rothman, E. F. (2017). Mixed-gender shelter-based service for child survivors of commercial sexual exploitation (CSEC) in Italy: A case study. Journal Of Social Service Research, 43(3), 358-368. doi:10.1080/01488376.2017.1299828


Bryant-Davis, T., and Tummala-Narra, P. (2017). Cultural oppression and human trafficking: Exploring the role of racism and ethnic bias. Women and Therapy, 40(1-2), 152-169. doi:10.1080/02703149.2016.1210964

Hickle, K. E. (2017). Resiliency and women exiting sex trade industry work. Journal Of Social Work, 17(3), 302-323. doi:10.1177/1468017316644692

Service Utilization

Dewan, S. E. (2014). Patterns of service utilization among pre-certified victims of human trafficking. International Social Work57(1), 64-74. doi:10.1177/0020872813507592

Screening Tools

Armstrong, S. (2017). Instruments to identify commercially sexually exploited children: feasibility of use in an emergency department setting. Pediatric emergency care, 33(12), 794-799.

Greenbaum, V. J., Dodd, M., and McCracken, C. (2018). A short screening tool to identify victims of child sex trafficking in the health care setting. Pediatric emergency care, 34(1), 33-37.

Nguyen, P. T., Lamkin, J., Coverdale, J. H., Scott, S., Li, K., and Gordon, M. R. (2018). Identifying Human Trafficking Victims on a Psychiatry Inpatient Service: a Case Series. Psychiatric Quarterly89(2), 341-348.

Vera Institute of Justice (2014). Screening for human trafficking: guidelines for administering the trafficking victim identification tool (TVIT). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice. Retrieved from

Substance Abuse

Cook, M. C., Barnert, E., Ijadi-Maghsoodi, R., Ports, K., and Bath, E. (2018). Exploring Mental Health and Substance use Treatment Needs of Commercially Sexually Exploited Youth Participating in a Specialty Juvenile Court. Behavioral Medicine44(3), 242-249.

Gerassi, L. B. (2018). Barriers to Accessing Detox Facilities, Substance Use Treatment, and Residential Services among Women Impacted by Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking. Behavioral Medicine44(3), 199-208

Groot, K. (2013). Drug-abused women and children. In M. de Chesnay, M. de Chesnay (Eds.), Sex trafficking: A clinical guide for nurses (pp. 203-238). New York, NY, US: Springer Publishing Co.

Hulka, L., and Mutschler, J. (2016). Measuring substance misuse in trafficked people. The Lancet Psychiatry3(2), e11. doi:10.1016/S2215-0366(15)00580-5

Treatment Frameworks

Baldwin, S. B., Fehrenbacher, A. E., and Eisenman, D. P. (2015). Psychological coercion in human trafficking: An application of Biderman’s framework. Qualitative Health Research25(9), 1171-1181. doi:10.1177/1049732314557087

Chung, R. C. (2009). Cultural perspectives on child trafficking, human rights and social justice: A model for psychologists. Counselling Psychology Quarterly22(1), 85-96. doi:10.1080/09515070902761230

Contreras, P. M. (2018). Human trafficking of women and girls in the United States: Toward an evolving psychosocial-historical definition. In C. B. Travis, J. W. White, A. Rutherford, W. S. Williams, S. L. Cook, K. F. Wyche, ... K. F. Wyche (Eds.) , APA handbook of the psychology of women: Perspectives on women's private and public lives (pp. 175-193). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association. doi:10.1037/0000060-010

Domoney, J., Howard, L. M., Abas, M., Broadbent, M., and Oram, S. (2015). Mental health service responses to human trafficking: A qualitative study of professionals’ experiences of providing care. BMC Psychiatry15

Macy, R. J., and Johns, N. (2011). Aftercare services for international sex trafficking survivors: Informing U.S. Service and program development in an emerging practice area. Trauma, Violence, and Abuse12(2), 87-98. doi:10.1177/1524838010390709

Muraya, D. N., and Fry, D. (2016). Aftercare services for child victims of sex trafficking: A systematic review of policy and practice. Trauma, Violence, and Abuse17(2), 204-220. doi:10.1177/1524838015584356

Nguyen, T. T., Bellehumeur, C. R., and Malette, J. (2014). Women survivors of sex trafficking: A trauma and recovery model integrating spirituality. Counselling And Spirituality / Counseling Et Spiritualité33(1), 111-133.

Stoklosa, H., MacGibbon, M., and Stoklosa, J. (2017). Human Trafficking, Mental Illness, and Addiction: Avoiding Diagnostic Overshadowing. AMA Journal Of Ethics19(1), 23-34. doi:10.1001/journalofethics.2017.19.1.ecas3-1701

William James College, Human Trafficking: An Introduction
Dr. Paola Michelle Contreras joins Dr. Stanley Berman to discuss the complex issue of human trafficking, both concerning sex trafficking and trafficking for manual labor.

APA, Survivor-Led and Survivor-Informed Human Trafficking Research
In this webinar, two presenters experienced in survivor-led and survivor-informed research in the United States, Thema Bryant-Davis, Ph.D. and Alexandra Pierce, Ph.D. share lessons learned from their human trafficking research experiences.

APA Annual Convention 2017, Sex Trafficking: Human Rights Violations on a Global Scale
Webinar on the overview of human trafficking, the dynamics of human traffickers, male victims in forced labor, LGBTQ youth and the question of legalization of prostitution.

HEAL Trafficking
A united group of multidisciplinary professionals dedicated to ending human trafficking and supporting its survivors, from a public health perspective.

Office for the Victims of Crimes, Human Trafficking Task Force E-Guide
The OVC E-Guide offers guidelines on how to support victims and survivors of human trafficking using a trauma-informed approach.

Project REACH, Trauma Center at Justice Resource Institute
A program that provides consultation and brief mental health services to trafficking victims throughout the United States.

Psychology of Modern Day Slavery
A 30-minute film that provides an understanding of human trafficking and modern-day slavery from a psychology perspective.

WJC Faculty Team

WJC Research Assistant Team

  • Stacy Reed, MSW, Clinical Psychology PsyD Student, Lead Research Assistant
  • Maria Laura Ayala-Conesa, MA, Clinical Psychology PsyD Student, Research Assistant
  • Jennifer Dockery, PsyD, Alumna, Research Assistant
  • Siham Eid, BA, Clinical Mental Health Counseling MA Student, Research Assistant
  • Akyla Joseph, MA, Alumna, Research Assistant
  • John Minahan, MA, Alumnus, Research Assistant
  • Samantha Wilson, MA, Clinical Psychology PsyD Student, Research Assistant

Community Research Partners

  • Chantha Carter, BS, Community Research Partner
  • Richard M. Greenberg, Esq., Community Research Partner
  • Shay Valentine, MA, Community Research Partner
  • Beth Waterman, BS, Community Research Partner
  • Heather Wightman, MSW, MPH, Community Research Partner
Close up photo of Stacy

Survivors and Allies Working Together to Bridge the Commercial Sex and Sex Trafficking Research Gaps

By Stacy Reed, MSW, William James College Leadership Psychology PsyD Student

The HTCRH is completing a unique mixed method study that asked 50 participants diverse by race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation to complete Adult Attachment Interviews (AAI), multiple objective measures about people's well-being and mental health struggles, and a qualitative interview about their life experiences in commercial sex.


silhouette of a woman on a pink background

Working Together to Fight Human Trafficking in the U.S.

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month and there have been numerous developments in recent years.

Read about them here