Human Rights in Trauma Mental Health Laboratory

Human Rights in Trauma Mental Health Laboratory

Division of Public Mental Health & Population Sciences
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Stanford University School of Medicine


The Human Rights in Trauma Mental Health Laboratory is committed to advancing and applying research on psychiatric sequelae for survivors of human rights abuses with an eye towards informing transitional justice and judicial processes. The lab focuses on the science of the psychological changes and mental health pathology caused by trauma on individuals, their families, and their communities, over time and between generations. Lab affiliates and colleagues analyze and build upon the rich data in the interdisciplinary scientific literature and in specific conflict situations to clearly identify the impact on human psychology of various forms of mass trauma, including genocide, mass killings, rape, and torture. This analysis can be used to clarify the science and/or advocate for the survivors’ human rights and mental health in a whole range of settings, including criminal trials, civil suits for money damages, and asylum proceedings. The lab will participate in these transitional justice processes in a range of ways, including by providing expert testimony and reports and consulting with the legal teams prosecuting perpetrators or representing victims.

Current Projects

Our laboratory is currently involved in several medico-legal consultations; each involving an element of trauma psychology, human rights violation, and survivor advocacy.

Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC)/Khmer Rouge Tribunal

The lab has developed extensive meta-analysis of the effects of trauma on the psychiatric outcomes of survivors of the Khmer Rouge and performed a comprehensive analysis of the public mental health system in the Kingdom of Cambodia. Our published findings were accepted as evidence in the ECCC and used to influence sentencing and reparations in case 002/1. Our lab is working to update and consolidate our findings for use in case 002/2.

International Criminal Court

The lab has collaborated with the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to explore the utility of submitting evidence of mental health outcomes of survivors in ongoing cases. The Prosecutor’s Office has retained our lab as a consultant on a case currently pending before the Trial Chamber. We are in discussions about broadening the scope of this collaboration to other cases and situations.

Humanitarian Parole Project for Survivors of Gender-Based Violence

The lab has collaborated with international human rights lawyers to provide forensic evaluations and expert opinions challenging immigration courts to use mental health outcomes as a basis for humanitarian parole. More than 50 individuals from post-earthquake Haiti have won humanitarian parole on the basis of trauma-related mental health outcomes. The project continues to support Haitian survivors and is exploring cases from other parts of the world.


Daryn Reicherter, MD
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Stanford University School of Medicine

Daryn Reicherter is dedicated to providing a combination of administrative and clinical services in the area of cross-cultural trauma mental health. He is a psychiatrist serving the clinical needs of survivors of torture from around the world, through Stanford affiliated local refugee clinics. Dr. Reicherter is involved with the movement for promotion of trauma mental health and human rights issues consulting in countries including Cambodia, Haiti, Zimbabwe, and Indonesia. He has published articles, chapters, and books on the topic of cross-cultural trauma. He has ongoing involvement in the advocacy for human rights in the area of war crimes through the programs he serves, and through advocacy in human rights legal processes.


Beth van Schaack, JD
Human Rights Program
Stanford University School of Law

Beth Van Schaack is the Leah Kaplan Visiting Professor in Human Rights at the Law School and a Visiting Scholar at the Center for International Security & Cooperation at Stanford University. Professor Van Schaack recently stepped down as Deputy to the Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues in the Office of Global Criminal Justice of the U.S. Department of State. In that capacity, she helped to advise the Secretary of State and the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights on the formulation of U.S. policy regarding the prevention of and accountability for mass atrocities, such as war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. Professor Van Schaack continues to advise a number of human rights organizations, including: the Documentation Center of Cambodia, the National Institute of Military Justice, the International Justice Resource Center, the Syrian Commission on Justice & Accountability, and Accountability Council.

Ryan Matlow, PhD
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Stanford University School of Medicine

Ryan Matlow, PhD, is the Director of Research Programs for the Early Life Stress and Pediatric Anxiety Program at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr. Matlow is trained as a child clinical psychologist. His clinical and research efforts focus on understanding and addressing the impact of traumatic stress. In particular, Dr. Matlow seeks to apply current scientific knowledge of the neurobiology of traumatic stress in shaping interventions, systems of care, and policy. Dr. Matlow has experience providing individual, family, and systemic interventions for posttraumatic stress following interpersonal trauma. Dr. Matlow received his doctoral degree in Child Clinical Psychology from the Department of Psychology at the University of Denver. He completed pre- and post-doctoral fellowships in the Multicultural Clinical Training Program at the University of California, San Francisco/San Francisco General Hospital.

Penelope Van Tuyl, JD
Center for Human Rights and International Justice
Stanford University

Penelope Van Tuyl is the Associate Director of the WSD HANDA Center for Human Rights and International Justice at Stanford University. An American human rights lawyer, she received her JD from UC Berkeley School of Law and is admitted to practice in the state of California. Penelope oversees the Handa Center's international criminal tribunal monitoring programs, has authored and edited numerous reports and articles on international criminal law and procedure, and teaches undergraduate courses in human rights and transitional justice. Her research interests touch on substantive, procedural, and administrative aspects of international criminal law practice, including standards of pleading in international courts and the institutional accountability mechanisms that are meant to support the effective and efficient administration of justice for the accused as well as for victim populations.

*Because the Handa Center currently has an active trial monitoring project underway at the ECCC, publishing objective critical analysis about the courtroom proceedings, Van Tuyl is not involved with the trauma mental health lab’s ECCC project in any way.

Gerald Gray, LCSW
Institute for Redress and Recovery
Santa Clara University School of Law

Gerald Gray is a psychotherapist who, since 1990, has provided direct clinical support to refugee survivors of torture, was founding director or president of two torture treatment centers, and initiated the founding of two legal centers to bring torturers to justice, including The Center for Justice & Accountability in San Francisco. He has been interested in the necessary collaboration of clinical trauma work and the law to make rehabilitation from human rights violations safer by dealing with the problem of impunity. Among relevant board memberships are the International Institute for Criminal Investigation in The Hague, Accountability Counsel in San Francisco, and the Institute for Psychosocial Trauma. He has degrees from the University of California and The London School of Economics.

Postdoctoral Affiliates and Doctoral Candidates

Persephone Crittenden, M.A.
Psy.D. Candidate - Psychology
PGSP-Stanford Consortium

Persephone Crittenden is a doctor of psychology (PsyD) clinical psychology student at the PGSP-Stanford University Consortium. Following her career as the managing director of a multi-national consulting firm focused on achieving racial equity in education, she engaged in international aid, development, and public health in developing countries throughout Sub-Saharan Africa and in India. Persephone has worked closely with prevalent and persistent trauma in communities affected by genocide, war, famine, poverty, and HIV. She is committed to improving cross-cultural trauma mental health and human rights. Persephone has also worked extensively with trauma-related mental health as an integrative psychotherapist intern at California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC). Persephone is a graduate of the Integrative Medicine Education program at CPMC Institute for Health and Healing. She earned a master’s in counseling psychology from University of San Francisco and a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

David Reed
PhD Candidate – Psychology
Palo Alto University

David Reed is a PhD Clinical Psychology student at Palo Alto University (PAU). He is currently a psychology trainee at the Center for Survivors of Torture in San Jose, CA, wherein he works directly with individuals who have been tortured. His current research focuses on the interaction of religious and cultural factors with the experience of terror and prejudice. These research and clinical interests led to his work with the Program for Human Rights in Trauma Mental Health as a way to directly contribute to the improvement of mental health on a global level. Under the mentorship of Dr. Robert Wickham, David's research also includes advanced statistics and methodology. He earned a bachelor’s degree from The University of South Carolina in Experimental Psychology.

Rachel Williamson 
PhD Candidate –Psychology
Palo Alto University

Rachel Williamson is a PhD student in Clinical Psychology at Palo Alto University. Rachel is currently a mental health intern at InnVision Shelter Network, where she provides therapy and psychological assessments to homeless children and adults, and acts as lead researcher on projects assessing trauma in the shelter system. Rachel worked with Dr. Nigel Field on research examining attachment and trauma within the context of post-Khmer Rouge Cambodia. Her current research focuses on developing the mechanisms and measurement of perpetrator trauma. Rachel aims at advancing and promoting scientific research that addresses the interface between psychological trauma and forensic issues. She received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Alberta.

Resident Psychiatrists

Gillian Rierson, MD
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Stanford University School of Medicine

Dr. Gillian Reierson is currently a third year resident in the adult psychiatry residency program at Stanford University. Prior to starting residency, she received her MD and PhD (in neuroscience) from the University of Miami in Miami, Florida. She has worked with veterans with PTSD at the Menlo Park VA in Menlo Park, CA using prolonged exposure therapy. She has also helped to evaluate and provide psychopharmacologic treatment for Cambodian refugees with PTSD at the Center for Survivors of Torture in San Jose, CA. She is currently serving as managing editor for the second edition of “Cambodia’s Hidden Scars.”

Yadida Rissman, MD
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Stanford University School of Medicine

Yedida Rissman is a resident psychiatry at Stanford University.  Her interests include community psychiatry, addiction medicine, global mental health and human rights.  Dr. Rissman has been working to provide psychiatric assessments via Skype of victims of gender-based violence in Central America and Haiti as a key part of their application for humanitarian parole. Dr. Rissman is also working on a project to reduce stigma and promote mental health awareness amongst laypeople and healthcare workers in rural Guatemala – a region with a tremendous mental health burden as a result of widespread violence and human rights abuses in the recent past.

Undergraduate Affiliates

Hanna Tyson
Human Biology
Stanford University

Hanna Tyson is an undergraduate at Stanford University pursuing a BA in International Relations and a minor in Economics.  She hopes to purse a law degree and work for the US State Department.

Clara Warden
Stanford University

Clara Warden is an undergraduate at Stanford University pursuing a BA in psychology. She hopes to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology with a focus on human rights and community health.

Affiliated Faculty

Laura Roberts, MD, MA
Department Chairman and Katharine Dexter McCormick and Stanley McCormick Memorial Professor
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Stanford University, School of Medicine

Dr. Roberts serves as Chairman and Katharine Dexter McCormick and Stanley McCormick Memorial Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine. She is a nationally recognized scholar and leader in ethics, psychiatry, medicine, and medical education. Dr. Roberts has performed numerous empirical studies of contemporary ethics issues in medicine and health policy and has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Energy, the National Alliance of Schizophrenia and Depression, the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, and other private and public foundations.  Her enthusiastic support for the Human Rights in Trauma Mental Health Laboratory has been essential in the realization of the project.


Daryn Reicherter, MD
Clinical Associate Professor
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Stanford University, School of Medicine