Our History

Center for Survivors of Torture has been providing integrated services to torture survivors in Texas since 1997. CST initially began as a project of Proyecto Adelante, a Dallas non-profit that provided legal services to seekers of political asylum. While addressing the legal needs of its clients, the staff of Proyecto Adelante found that as many as one-third of the clients had personally suffered torture, had witnessed torture or knew someone who had been tortured. The legal staff was unable to address the mental health needs of the clients, which impeded the staff’s legal representation of the torture survivors.

In 2000, Center for Survivors of Torture became an independent 501(c)(3), based in Dallas. In 2005, we opened a second office in Austin. In addition to main offices in Austin and Dallas, CST maintains satellite offices in San Antonio with Our Lady of the Lake University. CST clients also receive services from pro-bono professionals who are trained by CST to be culturally competent and linguistically diverse professionals to meet the health, mental health, legal and other needs of torture and trauma survivors.



CST starts

CST is started as a project of Proyecto Adelante in Dallas, Texas.


    CST becomes a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization


    Austin office opens

    9415 Burnet Road, Suite #201
    Austin, TX 78758


      Ad Wendler Award received

      Celia VanDeGraaf was awarded the Ed Wendler Award in Austin for outstanding service in the refugee community


      Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission

      CST was one of the two agencies to present client testimony at the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in Washington, DC


        New training, treatment plans, and services

        CST provides mental health services for any resettled refugee here less than five years

        CST provides assistance for all clients that require disability services

        CST increases capacity to provide services to children


        Excellence in service

        CST is recognized nationally for excellence in service provision


          Free community college education program

           CST initiates free community college education program for clients as part of our social services


          IRCT Assembly and Scientific Symposium

          CST represents North America at IRCT Assembly and Scientific Symposium in Mexico City


            Mental health first aid training

            CST provides Eight-Hour Mental Health First Aid Training (MHFA) class for Bhutanese leaders and Texas community leaders


             Mental health and wellness Education

            CST provides free two-day training for Texas in Mental Health and Wellness to educate the community and follow-up monthly brown bag luncheons


              Comprehensive training

               CST provided a comprehensive training for those professionals are interested in providing pro-bono trauma-informed counseling


              COVID-19 Response

              CST quickly implemented: basic needs and food provision (over 26,000 meals), telehealth and over 200 technology devices, COVID-19 training in twelve languages, and extended hours to include nights and weekends

                Zoom Groups

                CST initiated Five Zoom Groups with interpretation that are still in progress as of 2022. These include: Coping Skills, Art, Mindfulness, Stress Support, and Meditation. 

                  ORR/NCB Community Practice

                  CST’s Executive Director began leading ORR/NCB Community of Practice (CoP), Peer Consultation Groups (PCG) to present, with 12 members per iteration


                    Mental health first aid training

                    CST provided three free six-hour Mental Health First Aid trainings to the community

                    Webinars for attorneys

                    CST paired with Center for Victims of Torture to provide group counseling and related services and webinars for attorneys helping asylum seekers in detention at the Southern Border.


                    25th Anniversary

                    CST’s 25th Anniversary serving survivors of torture with all free services


                      CST introduces three new successful Afghan programs

                      • Afghan Wllness Program (AWP)
                      • Preferred Communities (PC)
                      • Survivors Impacted by Combat (SASIC)