Posted on Monday 30th June 2014
Neena Ramful, Trainee Clinical Psychologist at the University of Birmingham
Friday 20 June was World Refugee Day, ’’a time to commemorate the strength and resilience of the millions of people around the world who are forced to flee their homes due to war and human rights abuses’’ (unhcr.org; www.stories.unhcr.org/uk ). To date it seems that little is truly understood about the horrific life journeys that refugees encounter before entering a host country. Not to mention the shock to the adaptation to a new life and culture after suffering many losses (e.g. family, finances, employment, housing) of which may impact on one’s belief about the world being a safe place. As such refugees may encounter, but not always, psychological distress which may require psychological support. This is my account of my clinical experience of working with refugees and my interest in researching ways in which, we as professionals can better understand a refugee’s journey in reducing their psychological distress.
My experience of working clinically with refugees started within an NHS Primary Care setting where individuals were mainly being referred for psychosomatic complaints (unexplained physical complaints), and more often than not, referrers did not have the time to explore individual’s psychological distress.Before the restrictions of ‘time-limited interventions’ I was able to offer extended psychological assessments to primarily build a positive and safe therapeutic relationship with the individual to explore their reasons for their psychological distress, and refer on to specialist refugee services in the area...
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