Self Actualize Australia Ltd., Russell Vale , Australia
“Selfcare for Refugee Trauma” is a South East Primary Health Care Homes funded innovation project from December 2017 to May 2018 that took a culturally appropriate model to aid the therapeutic integration of trauma with 15 Syrian War Refugees.
We employed three Arabic bilingual specialists to deliver bio-psycho-social support through three different approaches. (1) Six, monthly psycho-education and focus group sessions were delivered to educate participants on the dimensions of self-care this involved developing “hope and resilience cards” which humanize participants’ journeys and helped them to reflect on their inner
strengths. (2) Weekly beach walks strengthened social connections whilst promoting mindfulness and positive health habits. (3) Psycho-social counselling in the home helped integrate their trauma in their safe space which improved their symptoms and coping strategies; participants’ depression, anxiety, stress and functioning were measured through bilingual DASS21 and K10 tools.
From March to April, there was an escalation of violence overseas; the project’s scaffolding effect emerged in this period as participants were able to rely on strengthened social connections and new coping skills. Participants’ scores initially were high, and their stress levels further increased before lowering to a more manageable level. This model was successful due to the culturallyappropriate staff and delivery. Although culturally and spiritually specific, the cards demonstrate that Islamic spirituality is a source of resilience and consistent with universal values highlighting a capacity for social inclusion. The project enhanced participant’s
understanding about the importance of selfcare for integrating refugee trauma to self -actualize.
The workshop groups process of creating the cards was very powerful therapeutically and beneficial for improving participant’s social connection and trauma integration.