From both a theoretical as well as clinical perspective transdiagnostic approaches are particularly relevant for refugees due to their high rates of diagnostic comorbidity as well severe psychosocial impairment. A transdiagnostic group therapy aiming to target emotion regulation as a key process that is involved in the development and maintenance across different mental disorders
categories is particularly promising to meet the various structural as well as conceptual challenges in providing adequate treatment for this vulnerable group. Finally, the impact of culture on refugee mental health needs to be considered; culture affects refugees’ manifestation of mental health and trauma as well as emotion regulation. It further affects their help-seeking behavior, and treatment expectations. For the development of effective interventions that target the special needs of refugees, the cultural backgrounds need to be taken into account.
Refugio Munich, a treatment centre for refugees, developed the “Skills-Training of affect regulation – a culture sensitive approach:
STARC”. In this group program, strategies to improve emotional clarity as well as to regulate strong emotions efficiently are conveyed. Unique characteristics are its high culture-sensitivity and the participatory development approach. The program is currently being evaluated in a RCT in a sample of traumatized Afghan refugees (N = 40). We hypothesize an improvement in emotion dysregulation as well as across a broad set of symptom categories (PTSD, depression, anxiety/insomnia, anger reactions, and social dysfunction).
The objective of this presentation is to describe the group program (with a special focus on its culture-sensitive aspects), its potential application in a phase-based approach and challenges in conducting a manualized group therapy as well as a high quality RCT with refugees. First results from the RCT are summarized and discussed.