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Nooria Mehraby

Nooria Mehraby MD is a senior clinician and clinical trainer at STARTTS.  Herself a former refugee, Nooria has more than 25 years experience working with refugees both overseas and here in Australia. This includes over 20 years experience at STARTTS. Nooria first trained as a medical doctor in her native Afghanistan and later obtained a Master of Counselling with Distinction in Australia. Nooria is an experienced national and international conference speaker and is the author of multiple publications (including textbook contributions) on refugee trauma, cross-cultural approaches and working with children. Nooria has lectured in various universities in NSW and has facilitated clinical workshops across Australia. She is currently teaching trauma counselling as a part of the Master of Clinical Counselling at the Australian Catholic University.

Nooria is the editor of Refugee Trauma and Cross-Cultural Approaches sections of the Psyche visual Online Journal, and was formerly the editor of Interface Column in Psychotherapy in Australia. Her particular interest is in developing cross-cultural therapeutic interventions with refugees, especially with Muslim clients. In her current position as STARTTS’ Clinician Trainer, she brings clinical expertise to STARTTS’ wide range of training programs and regularly delivers workshops to service providers. She has trained hundreds of clinicians working in trauma assessment and interventions. In 2015 she was the recipient of Australian Muslim Professional of the Year Award.

Abstract – Clinical Master Class – 25 March 2020

Working Clinically with Refugees Survivors of Traumatic and Prolonged Grief: Nadeem’s Story

Grief is a multifaceted response to loss; Refugees generally experience multiple losses in their lives, making grief a ubiquitous experience for refugee clients. The nature of the losses may have been personal and traumatic and usually also includes loss of identity, social status, employment, homeland, house and neighbourhood, traditional customary lifestyle and culture. Refugee experiences can rupture the bonds of love and connectedness to family, friends, and community, thus breaking the survivors’ sense of trust, security and justice both at individual and collective levels. Those bereaved may be at risk for prolonged grief, their resiliency impeded by the severity of the event and the perceived maltreatment of human beings as well as cultural bereavement and multiplicity of settlement problems. In this presentation Nooria Mehraby will provide insight into how refugees are exposed to severe traumatic events and multiple losses, subsequently presenting with traumatic and   prolonged grief reactions. She will illustrate this with a case study of Nadeem, a 46 year old Syrian refugee man who presented with symptoms of traumatic and prolonged grief, as well as PTSD, anxiety and depression. He had experienced multiple and traumatic losses including those of his brother and friends as well as the disappearance of his son. Complicating his presentation was the disenfranchised grief and hidden sorrow in relation to his other losses, including the early loss of his mother and the more recent losses of social status, qualifications and country. Longing for homeland and attachment to the place of his childhood was always present.

A safe therapeutic environment was provided for Nadeem where was able to process a traumatic loss both cognitively and emotionally, facilitating the process of grief. Although Nadeem would take many years to really settle into new life that accommodates loss of so many, therapy ended with renewed connections to his wife and children, his faith, his friends and family. He reported significantly reduced symptoms and renewed plans to study and work. Nadeem’s grieving may never fully end but he did find some comfort and acceptance in the midst of the chaos and loss.

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