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Gisela Perren-Klingler

Last name
German, English, French, Italian, Spanish, Hebrew
Main Interests: Interface between Medicine and Human Rights
  • The connection between Basic mental Health and Human Rights, Mental Health and political/judicial responses to Human Rights violations and the participation/   limitations and ethical tasks of medicine/psychology. Pitfalls for psychotherapy in psychotraumatology.
  • Prevention of Violence at a primary and secondary level, peace education (Schools)
  • Prevention of Violence against women and children
  • Transcultural approaches in Mental Health; combination of traditional (religious, non medicalised) and modern (medicalised and Mental Health) interventions for victims of torture and other violence.
  • Mental Health as an occupational problem in professions exposed to violence:   (Police, Firemen etc., medical and paramedical professions, international aid workers),
  • Mental Health in marginalized populations (migrants, refugees, detainees,   foreigners, adolescents, handicapped children, children, drug addicts, HIV persons).
  • Self Empowerment of marginalized groups
  • Networking between professional Groups North/South and different Human Rights   Groups (lawyers, MDs, psychologists, social workers etc.).
  • Setting up standards of training and of good clinical practice concerning consequences of violence in order to monitor and evaluate projects


1944 born in Basle, grown up in Switzerland, the UK and Germany, schools in Basle, Zurich and Cologne

1962/3 Studies of Comparative Religion, one semester in Salamanca/Spain, one year at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem/Israel

1963-1970 Medical studies at Basle University, including one year as a visiting student in Oxford.

1970 Diploma in Tropical Medicine at the Institute for Tropical Medicine in Basle.

1970/71 Medical Intern at the Regionalspital St. Maria, Visp, General Medicine, including, Obs/Gyn, Surgery, Internal Medicine and Paediatrics.

Training in somatic medicine, psychiatry and child psychiatry at the Basle university hospitals.

Additional post-graduate training in Psychoanalysis (Freiburg/Germany, Zurich, Geneva), Group Psychotherapy(Göttingen) Focal Therapy(Boston), Family Therapy (England), Hypnosis (Switzerland and USA), neuro-linguistic Psychotherapy (France, Germany and USA), EMDR and TFT.

Since 1978 in private practice as a child psychiatrist in Visp, in a rural part of Switzerland, in the last 20 years mainly dealing with traumatized patients: foreigners (tortured refugees, simple migrants) and Swiss (Family violence, child abuse, working accidents, secondary traumatisation) .

Medical delegate in the medico-social unit in Visp, creating the project for co-ordinating home care for the sick and elderly, SPITEX. (1979- 1991),

1980- 1990 medical delegate of the ICRC (Intl. Committee of the Red Cross, Geneva) on an ad hoc basis in prisons of Latin America (political prisoners), the Middle East (Public Health questions in the occupied territories of Palestine, Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons, and Israeli POWs in Damascus), Europe (Spain: Political prisoners) –with  forensic evaluation of sequelae of ill treatment, isolation, torture – somatic and psychological -  and Africa (setting up a feeding programme for starving prisoners). In this function confronted with evaluation of torture sequelae at somatic and psychological levels.

1992 founder of Institute Psychotrauma  Switzerland, as a response to the new Swiss law in favour of victims of violence, and to the massive arrival of refugees from the Balkans.

1994 – 2004  only civilian member of the Commission for psychiatry of War and catastrophes of the Swiss Army; Human Rights respect and accountability of soldiers and commanders.  

1993 - 2001 Working and evaluation missions as the Swiss member of the CPT (Commission for Prevention of Torture and Inhuman and Degrading Treatment in persons deprived of their liberty), at the Council of Europe, Strasbourg, re-elected in 1997 (till September 2001, end of eligibility). In this function obligation to assess in view of forensic consequences,  physical and psychological marks of ill treatment or torture in prisons, police stations etc. in the countries of the Council of Europe.  Elaboration of a simple form (simpler and shorter than the Istanbul protocol) for forensic  MDs in the prisons and police stations.

1994-1996 Consultant at the unit of migration medicine at the University hospital of Geneva (primary interventions with traumatized asylum seekers).

1996/97 project and implementation of two courses of professional-psychosocial support for Bosnians returning home (in cooperation with "bureau d' aide au depart, Croix Rouge Genevoise).

1996, 1998,  2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005: Evaluation for the EHRF (European Human Rights Foundation), then EIDHR (European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights, both  Brussels) of centres for rehabilitation of torture victims in Europe, Latin America, Asia, on paper and in situ; these centres have all a forensic duty in evaluating whether the psycho-physical complaints of the asylum seekers are causally linked to torture and persecution (a reason to get refugee status). 

1999: Epidemiological project on long term sequelae of torture and detention in 200 political ex-prisoners in Montevideo, evaluation of the quantitative data,

Fall 2001: Participation in the First European police officers training in Germany: Topic: Conflict management, especially negotiation and mediation

Summer 2002: Participation on a two days training programme of the Institut für Völkerrecht (Insitute for international Law) in Graz/Austria: Human Rights in police stations (preventive and expulsion detention), for medical services: Participants police doctors, Human Rights NGOs and doctors from the Menschenrechstbeirat, a governmental monitoring body.

Since 2002 regular training of collaborators of Zentrum für politisch Verfolgte of Diakonie in Stuttgart

Summer 2003: At the demand of representatives of the central Argentinian Ministry of Health, presence and one day training of persons from the basic medical Care in Santa Fé, where a big flood- of April 29, 2003, had affected over 100’000 persons which were evacuated

2004/2005 course for emergency psychology as a pilot course of 18 days in Bolzano, training of teachers in transcultural aspects in working with and empowering refugee children (and their parents)   in Luxemburg, as well as in the Ticino (“wise before the event”= become prepared in schools for the case of a critical incident)

Presentation of hypnotic techniques in PTSD and dissociation (and co-morbidities) at the University Hospital in Montevideo.

2007 elected as one of the 15 members of the IHFFC (International Humanitarian Fact Finding Commission), elected as the President from 2012 - 2017

Training if the IHFFC members in stress management and perception and dealing with persons who have undergone violence or unrest

As a President negotiating for the commission in various situations of Armed Conflicts with representatives from either sides.  

Visp, Schweiz

1995 Book: „Trauma, from individual Helplessness to the Resources of Groups“, in German in June 1995, in English in April 1996 (von der Hilflosigkeit des Einzelnen zu den Ressourcen der Gruppe, Paul Haupt, Bern)

1994/95 project and implementation of a 12 days training course aiming at Self Empowerment for a Swiss-Bosnian bicultural group "Multiplicators in Mental Health Techniques for Asylum Seekers and Refugees", in Zurich, the corresponding handbook being published by the Asylorganisation, Zurich: "Ressourcenarbeit, ein Handbuch für die Betreuung von und mit Flüchtlingen"(1998), second edition in 2003.

Multiple Articles in Handbooks, Journals and newspapers on Trauma, therapy and Prevention of sequelae of violence and Human Rights violations.

Sourcebook on prevention and rehabilitation for EIDHR (European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights, 2005)

Various books edited on interventions in trauma- preventative  and therapeutic;  

2015 editing a book in German: “mental Health and Catastrophy” at Springer

Presentations/ teachings

1994/95 project and implementation of a 12 days training course aiming at Self Empowerment for a Swiss-Bosnian bicultural group "Multiplicators in Mental Health Techniques for Asylum Seekers and Refugees", in Zurich, the corresponding handbook being published by the Asylorganisation, Zurich: "Ressourcenarbeit, ein Handbuch für die Betreuung von und mit Flüchtlingen"(1998), second edition in 2003.

1996/97 new implementation of a 12 days self Empowerment course for forced migrants: One group from the Balkans (Albania, Kosova, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia), one multicultural (Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Algeria, Iraq, Turkey, Kurdistan, Palestine, Iran, Balkan ).

Summer 2001 in Prishtina: training of 23 CIVPOL Police officers in UNMIK (United Nations Mission in Kosova)-from 11 different countries

Winter 2003: Training of teachers dealing with AIDS Orphans in Namibia: Content: trauma and Grief.

2005/2006 december: Training of psychiatrists, psychologists and community Health personnel in Karachi and Abbottabad, concerned with the psychological sequelae of the earthquake.

Training of the first 90 “family assistance team members” (of 1’500 planned) of PIA (Pakistan International Airlines) in Karachi and Islamabad.

2006/2007 starting in Argentina a nation wide programme for voluntary firefighters in stress management and trauma prevention – for themselves and their victims. In this frame an 18 days’ training programme in emergency psychology for voluntary firefighters’  psychologists

2007/2008: second course of emergency psychology in Bolzano of 18 days

2008: Training in Guatemala with psychologists and Health promoters, who deal with survivors of any kind of violence (rape, family violence, political violence, criminal violence, road, working accidents, assistance to exhumations after massive HR violations etc), in the frame of a local NGO (ECAP).

Training of Guatemaltec lawyers of the archbishop, who deal with HR violations and their aftermath, especially in forensic evaluation of physical and psychological marks….

2009: 20011, 2012, 2013, Return to Guatemala, for continuing training of the 2008 group and for a new similar course with beginners.

Training of EUPOL (European police forces) in Afghanistan, during 6 days

Since then on and off training of personnel of the EU (external European Action Service)  which is sent abroad in conflict regions in peer support.

50 persons in 2014,

50 persons in 2015 as well as in missions, such as Tbilisi (Georgia), Kiew or Ramallah(Palestine), Niamey (Niger)

2007 – 2009 Training of 15 Psychiatrists from all over Algeria, in Béjaya/Algeria in basic psychotraumatology and intervention techniques.

2010/2013: New training programme of 15 days in Psychotraumatolgy for psychotherapists of the school for trans-generational Philosophy, Mexico DF.

2014 /2015 “diplomado Internacional de psicotraumatologia” of 15 days in TECHPALWLEWI, Mexico DF.

Similar course in 2016/2017 in Mexico DF and in Hermosillo (Sonora).

Summer 2017: Beginning of a 15 days Psychotraumatology course for psychotherapists in Lebanon;


Multiple presentations at scientific and HR conferences