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

Khawaja, Nigar G. & Stein, Georgia (2015) Psychological services for asylum seekers in the community: Challenges and solutions. Australian Psychologist. (In Press)

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Abstract

Objective

  • 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.

Method

  • 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.

Result

  • 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.

Conclusion

  • 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:

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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: Copyright © 1999-2015 John Wiley & Sons
Deposited On: 05 May 2015 05:01
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2016 02:33

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