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“We have only certain images of refugees”: Stimulating Critical Reflexivity in the Resettlement Sector.

“We have only certain images of refugees”: Stimulating Critical Reflexivity in the Resettlement Sector.

University Of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand
Resettlement agencies are powerful advocates of resettling communities. However, in their attempts to acquire recognition and resources, they are also accused of perpetuating the stigmatized status of resettling communities. Reliance on ‘at risk’ representations, characterized by a preoccupation with pre-displacement trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, and specialist psychological intervention, attract sympathy and support in the short term. However, critique from scholars, and resettling communities, suggest such representations risk sabotaging successful settlement by perpetuating stigma and silencing the significance of postdisplacement
stress. This presentation will share critical reflections from a cross-section of practitioners (i.e. psychiatrists, psychologists, caseworkers and interpreters) working with resettling communities in Aotearoa, New Zealand. It will also reflect on the implementation of a nationwide initiative, sponsored by the New Zealand Red Cross, sensitizing practitioners to the assumptions, and associated representations, being reproduced in the resettlement sector.
This social constructivist research aims to raise awareness of the problematic psychopathological representations perpetuated by practitioners in the resettlement sector. It is also a response to published criticism regarding the perceived appropriateness, and practical application, of positivist psychological research conducted on resettling communities.The concepts covered in this presentation correspond with ‘Practice wisdom and progression’ and intersect with the following subsections; ‘Professional innovations’ and ‘Community perspectives on practice development’.