Psychological services for asylum seekers in the community: Challenges and solutions

Khawaja, Nigar G. & Stein, Georgia (2016) Psychological services for asylum seekers in the community: Challenges and solutions. Australian Psychologist, 51(6), pp. 463-471.

[img] Accepted Version (PDF 101kB)
Administrators only until December 2017 | Request a copy from author

View at publisher



  • Given the Australian government’s current policy of placing asylum seekers into the community while their applications for asylum are being considered, it is important that mental health practitioners are able to offer culturally safe, sensitive, and competent services in this context.


  • A qualitative approach was used to interview seven practitioners, who provided services to asylum seekers at a specialist health clinic in the community. These professionals used their experience to identify the psychosocial issues faced by these asylum seekers, the challenges of providing culturally effective services to this group, and how these services can be improved.


  • Data were thematically analysed using NVivo. The findings indicated that participants perceived that clients experienced psychological, health, and cultural difficulties. The stress and uncertainty around visa applications emerged as the most severe factor impacting asylum seekers’ mental health. Working effectively with interpreters and culturally adapting assessment and treatment for these clients emerged as effective strategies. Gathering information in a conversational way and using clients’ different cultural explanatory models were methods used to identify and address mental health issues, rather than using formal measures. Interventions were eclectic and holistic, and reflected treatments that were appropriate for the clients’ cultural backgrounds.


  • The study has implications for how psychological services are offered to asylum seekers in the community. Further, it identifies areas that can be incorporated in the future training of practitioners.

Impact and interest:

0 citations in Scopus
Search Google Scholar™

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

ID Code: 83862
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: asylum seekers, community based services, mental health, qualitative, cultural safety
DOI: 10.1111/ap.12149
ISSN: 1742-9544
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Psychology & Counselling
Copyright Owner: 2016 The Australian Psychological Society
Deposited On: 05 May 2015 05:01
Last Modified: 20 Apr 2017 08:39

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page