Short-term group intervention for newly arrived refugee children: Helping to rebuild children’ lives after trauma

Short-term group intervention for newly arrived refugee children: Helping to rebuild children’ lives after trauma

2010-05-01 00:00:00 21m

This paper describes a short-term group intervention conducted with a group of newly arrived pre-adolescent aged 9-12 from Afghanistan in the context of the Early Intervention Program (EIP) of the New South Wales Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS). The paper will emphasize the importance of the refugee child assessment in order to conduct successful brief interventions.

Newly arrived refugees have lived through multiple traumatic experiences for protracted periods in their country of origin and in refugee camps and/or other countries of asylum before resettlement. In addition they have suffered multiple losses and extreme deprivation. These experiences may have a severe impact on the development of children, particularly those who have experienced multiple traumas and losses without the adequate family or social support. During the resettlement period, refugee children have also to deal with the stresses associated with the daunting task of adaptation to a new country. In some cases young traumatised people may carry considerable additional responsibilities brought about by their changing role within their families.

STARTTS’ EIP provides a comprehensive assessment as well as short to medium term interventions for newly arrived refugees. The EIP assessment uses the Refugee Comprehensive Tool (R-CAT) which basically consists of a clinical interview exploring different areas impacting on the successful resettlement of newly arrived refugees. The R-CAT explores the psychosocial difficulties experienced by the individual and their family, their physical, emotional and psychological health along with basic demographic details and issues related to extended family in the country of origin, the psychosocial difficulties experienced by the individual and their family, their physical, emotional and psychological health. The R-CAT is both a screening and an action instrument. It provides a “map” of the individual and their family needs and assists in planning goals for intervention, making referrals and the delivery of information on issues, make referrals and plan goals for intervention.

The R-CAT assessments of twelve refugee children from Afghanistan provided information about common issues for those children that could be addressed through an intensive brief group intervention.  The group ran for a total of sixteen hours sessions over a four day period during the school holidays. Its main aims were to provide a safe environment that would facilitate the development of the children’s self-confidence as well as to assist building social and peer support. At the same time, it created the space for participants dealing with grief, the development of trust and strengthening of coping mechanisms as well as to assist building up social and peer-support.

Areas of Interest / Categories: Refugee Issues, STARTTS 2010, Torture and Trauma
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