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Family reunification in exile – a challenge for family therapists

Family reunification in exile – a challenge for family therapists

Families are often separated by war, conflict and forced migration. Many families have lived through years of uncertainty and suffering, and sometimes also experienced long bureaucratic processes before they are finally reunited in a new society. In addition many family members have been exposed to traumatic events prior to reunification, such as imprisonment, torture and war. The reunification in itself also presents the family with new challenges. Whereas one part of the family has lived in the new country for some time, the newly arrived family member(s) meets the host country for the first time. Finding the way back into family life in a new and complex context, may represent a combination of great joy, relief and difficult stress. Families with these experiences have been interviewed as part of a project on intervention with reunited families.

Both families who are seeking professional assistance, and families who have managed the transitions well and not asked for such help have been interviewed. Their evaluations on what have been stressful and difficult events in the process as well as positive and important events are explored. Family therapists working with the families are also included among the informants. Based on the conversations with the families and their helpers two aspects will be presented: the experiences of families on ways of coping during the process of finding family members, obtaining reunification and actually getting together as families, and the experiences of the helpers. An outline for intervention and assistance to families will be discussed, with special reference to ways of providing early and possible preventive support in this process.

Speakers: Nora Sveaass
Conference: Demo
Areas of Interest / Categories: Family Therapy, Group Therapy, Stress, War

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