Conducting Asylum Evaluations

Therapists Conducting Asylum Evaluations

An interview with Marc Sadoff, LCSW, about what therapists can do to support refugees seeking asylum in the United States. We talk about the qualifications therapists need to engage in the asylum evaluation process.

It’s time to reimagine therapy and what it means to be a therapist. We are human beings who can now present ourselves as whole people, with authenticity, purpose, and connection. Especially now, when therapists must develop a personal brand to market their practices.

To support you as a whole person and a therapist, your hosts, Curt Widhalm and Katie Vernoy talk about how to approach the role of therapist in the modern age.

Interview with Marc Sadoff, LCSW

Marc Sadoff, LCSW was licensed in 1985 and worked with the Program for Torture Victims Los Angeles from 1997 to 2001.  Marc and his colleagues did psychological and medical evaluations to corroborate claims of torture for asylum seekers.  In 2000, they presented a half-day workshop for Immigration Asylum Officers on the topic of credibility.  They were acknowledged as contributors to a book edited by the Physicians for Human Rights called “A Health Professional’s Guide to Medical And Psychological Evaluations Of Torture” published in 2001.  Marc has submitted over 100 psychological evaluations for immigration cases, and has been accepted as an ‘expert in traumatic stress’, 60 of the 60 times that he’s testified in court.  Marc’s goal in providing training on asylum is to expand the pool of clinicians who can begin doing pro bono and low fee psychological evaluations for those fleeing injustice and terror. You can learn more about Marc here:

In this episode we talk about:

  • Marc’s entry into treating torture and asylum victims
  • The difference between asylum evaluations and treatment
  • What the asylum process looks like from asylee perspective and the clinician perspective
  • The years long process that is asylum seeking, leading to communities requiring sponsorship while waiting for the process to be completed
  • The clinician’s experience in the asylum process
  • What is required to complete evaluations for asylum, looking at the practical steps to completing the report
  • Qualifications for therapists completing asylum evaluations
  • The current state of immigration and how it has impacted Marc’s practice, his personal takes on it
  • The plight of unaccompanied minors who cross the border
  • How therapists can get involved, as a citizen, as a clinician, as an asylum evaluator
  • How therapists and social workers need to be cautious about what they present related to interviews outside of asylum evaluations

Resources mentioned:

We’ve pulled together any resources mentioned in this episode and put together some handy-dandy links.

Marc’s 7 hour course – Webinar on Asylum Evaluations:

Marc’s information: For info regarding the September training.


Twitter: @MarcSadoff


Professional Organization Statements:





America Academy of Pediatrics

Child’s World  America Petition (this petition is no longer active)

Diane Feinstein’s Bill: Keep Families Together Act

Action Alert from Southern Poverty Law Center


Their request as reported by APA:

You may have heard of the organization RAICES in the news. The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services. This is a request from them:

“We are being given access to the children at Casa Padre in Brownsville, Texas, on July 12-13 and need massive help. Approximately 1,000 children are being held there and we have the right to interview every single one of them under Flores, but we will only have two days and 9-12 hours per day to do so. Every interview takes approximately one hour, which means that we will need approximately sixty attorneys, plus interpreters. We need some interpreters to speak indigenous Central American languages as well as Spanish and other languages around the world (last week our team was looking for a Punjabi speaker while interviewing a child at one of the Border Patrol stations). We also are seeking volunteer pediatric medical and therapeutic professionals who can volunteer to provide support onsite both days.

Almost no private citizens are allowed to meet with these children, but a limited number of attorneys can under Flores and we need more volunteer attorneys on our team in light of the current crisis. If you go to Brownsville (or one of the the other sites where children are being held), you can document who and where these children are, who their parents are, and as much as the children can recall of where and when they were separated from their parents so that we can provide that information to the court and seek their prompt reunification with their families.

There is no travel funding available and all work done is on a volunteer basis. If you cannot help with the visit at Casa Padre on July 12-13, we also will probably need volunteers for visits to the ORR/Southwest Key facilities once those dates are set.

History, as well as present conditions around the world tell us how critical this process and information are in circumstances like we are witnessing here. The separation of these children from their families highlights a dark point in our unfolding history as a nation. Today, I am so grateful for the rule of law and attorneys, other professionals, and lay volunteers who are working so hard to shine a light on these children’s plight in order to provide a path forward for them and their families, as well as for society overall.

If you are willing and able to volunteer, please contact me at and I will help you with paperwork to get your background check started and the introductions you need to possibly be added to the Flores team.”

American Psychological Association

Immigration Resources:



Our Next Event:

The Therapy Reimagined Conference in Los Angeles in October 2018!!

Our new consultation services:

The Fifty-Minute Hour

Who we are:

Curt Widhalm is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in private practice in the Los Angeles area. He is a Board Member at Large for the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, a Subject Matter Expert for the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, Adjunct Faculty at Pepperdine University, and a loving husband and father. He is 1/2 great person, 1/2 provocateur, and 1/2 geek, in that order. He dabbles in the dark art of making “dad jokes” and usually has a half-empty cup of coffee somewhere nearby. Learn more about Curt at

Katie Vernoy is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, coach, and consultant. As a helping professional for two decades, she’s navigated the ups and downs of our unique line of work. She’s run her own solo therapy practice, designed innovative clinical programs, built and managed large, thriving teams of service providers, and consulted hundreds of helping professionals on how to build meaningful AND sustainable practices. In her spare time, Katie is secretly siphoning off Curt’s youthful energy, so that she can take over the world. Learn more about Katie at

A Quick Note:

Our opinions are our own. We are only speaking for ourselves – except when we speak for each other, or over each other. We’re working on it.

Our guests are also only speaking for themselves and have their own opinions. We aren’t trying to take their voice, and no one speaks for us either. Mostly because they don’t want to, but hey.

Stay in Touch:


Voice Over by DW McCann

Music by Crystal Grooms Mangano

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