A new model of refugee therapy is being designed as a result of the ‘migrants crisis’ in Europe. The new psychotherapy should have an intersectional approach, being able to deal with multiple traumas since some of the people who need it went through war, torture, abandonment and rape.
Psychologists and mental health service providers are saying that the hundreds of thousands of persons fleeing war zones like Syria or Afghanistan might be suffering from serious mental health problems, like complex PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).
Mainstream therapies, currently being used are based on single-event trauma and they have been designed for people living in stable environments at the time of the therapy, like returning veterans or accident survivors. It is obvious that this is not the case for migrants, who are still suffering traumas even in their new environment.
Doctors giving first aid to migrants in Italy claim the migrants sometimes say stories of how they’ve been imprisoned, beaten or even shot at. The doctors also say that about 40 percent of the refugees suffering of mental health conditions showed symptoms of PTSD like terrifying flashbacks.
A team of researchers from Dresden, Germany, assessed the mental health of 23 refugees and they diagnosed half of them with PTSD.
Mina Fazel from Oxford University, a mental health specialist, claims that treatment is crucial for the integration on migrants in their host countries.
Currently, therapists all over Europe are trying to develop new techniques. Two of the models proposed are Intercultural Psychotherapy and Narrative Exposure Therapy.
The Narrative Exposure Therapy focuses on documenting all the atrocities endured by the patient. The therapy takes place in a safe environment, where the patients are supported to process what has happened to them. The model has been developed 10 years ago by a team of German researchers.
A clinical trial meant to examine the effectiveness of the Narrative Exposure Therapy revealed that one year after the therapy, only 29 percent of the patients were still showing symptoms of PTSD, compared to about 80 percent of the patients who were supported through other types of therapy.
On the other side, Intercultural Psychotherapy avoids exposing patients to painful memories, focusing more on the present. The therapists provide support for the present lives of their patients. This model is being used in London, at the Refugee Therapy Centre, which provides support in 14 languages.
Whatever type of therapy they might be choosing, everybody agrees that the migrant’s mental health needs to be addressed.
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