Capoeira Angola: An alternative intervention program for traumatized adolescent refugees from war-torn countries


  • Shakeh Mom Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS), New South Wales, Australia
  • Mariano Coello Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS), New South Wales, Australia
  • Emma Pittaway Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS), New South Wales, Australia
  • Russell Downham Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS), New South Wales, Australia
  • Jorge Aroche Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS), New South Wales, Australia



adolescents, refugees, trauma, capoeira, alternative intervention


Background: Following resettlement in Australia, young traumatized refugees often face social challenges, including language and cultural barriers and social adjustment, which can lead to behavioral difficulties. Providing support at this vulnerable stage is therefore vital for reducing future setbacks.Objective: The STARTTS Capoeira Angola program was developed to help traumatized adolescents successfully integrate into their school environments. As an Afro-Brazilian martial art that incorporates dance, Capoeira appeared an appropriate intervention for adolescent refugees due to its unique ethos of empowerment and group membership. Method: 32 refugeesfrom Middle Eastern and African countries (aged12-17) from the Intensive English Centre (IEC) department of the participant schools were assessed pre- and post- intervention using the Teacher’s Strengths and Difficulties Scale (SDQ). Teachers were also asked to observe the students’ functioning in a range of different situations at school. Results/conclusions: A significant overall decrease in behavioral problems was observed, which was associated with improvements in interpersonal skills, confidence, respect for self and others, self-discipline, and overall sense of responsibility.


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How to Cite

Mom, S., Coello, M., Pittaway, E., Downham, R., & Aroche, J. (2019). Capoeira Angola: An alternative intervention program for traumatized adolescent refugees from war-torn countries. Torture Journal, 29(1), 85–96.