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Resilience and Refugee Trauma: From Research to Clinical Interventions

Clinical Master Class Evening held on 30 April 2014

These recorded lectures are available to be viewed for a small fee at Owl Talks Lectures.

Resilience and Refugee Trauma: What does the research tell us?

Dr Angela Nickerson

Following exposure to a traumatic event, many people experience distress and impairment. Accordingly, the majority of research investigating post-traumatic stress responses have focused on psychological symptoms and associated disability. Recently however, research attention has turned to those individuals who continue to show low levels of psychological symptoms and continue to function well, even after experiencing significant trauma and adversity. For example, most studies conducted with refugee and post conflict groups have identified a substantial group who do not report significant psychological symptoms, even after exposure to war and persecution. This presentation will review the literature on resilience following exposure to traumatic events, both in the context of broad trauma research, and studies conducted with refugees and asylum seekers. The implications for psychological interventions for refugees will be considered.

The Role of Hope and Resilience in Overcoming Refugee Trauma

Shaheen Kohsar

Refugee clients often experience multiple traumas and losses, and present with a range of psychological and physical problems, as well as settlement needs. Restoration of hope and resilience can aid the process of healing and recovery from traumatic life experiences, and assist them in adjusting to the new environment, which includes coping with multiple settlement stressors. Shaheen will illustrate this with a case study of a 17 year old female from Afghanistan who has spent 13 years of her life in various refugee detention centres in Indonesia. She presented with low mood, hopelessness, sleep disturbances, and increased anxiety about her future. Strengths-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy was utilised to draw on her strengths and enhance her resilience. The client’s ‘hidden’ positive qualities were incorporated into the recovery process. Focusing on building rapport and trust was also emphasised in the therapeutic relationship.

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