Refugees bear an unbelievable weight of emotional, mental, and physical trauma. The children suffer the most because they’re unable to defend themselves or make sense of their situation. They experience the loss of everything they’ve known. Even worse, they lose those important to them, such as their family members, friends, homes, traditions, identity, and peace.
Child refugees have to leave their childhood behind. That is the cruel reality of victims of
- human rights violations,
- economic and environmental hardships,
- persecution, and
The effects of these difficulties far outlast their duration, leaving refugees with profound psychological and physical wounds.
A person can only bear so much pain and trauma. Without a doubt, their situation will negatively impact the quality of their lives for a long time. After escaping torment from their country of origin, they still face numerous difficulties in their host country. Because of this, it’s crucial for refugees, especially children, to receive the help of a therapist.
Treating Their Trauma
Refugee children get exposed to so much trauma at an early age. So, they would benefit from professional help. Whether their resettlement stems from fleeing from war-torn countries, environmental disasters, or discrimination and persecution, it negatively affects them. They may have also witnessed others around them suffer from death, destruction, or abuse.
The actual process of them seeking safety is another traumatic process entirely. Refugees don’t immediately get the green light to move to a different place. Often, they’re left months or even years struggling to survive in their situation. Rarely do they arrive at their host country without casualties and losses.
Young refugees bear witness to these hardships. And it’s damaging to see their family resort to desperate measures to survive. In addition, these children’s parents and guardians have their hands full, striving to keep their family fed and safe. This experience can lead refugee kids to develop a sense of isolation and loneliness even before fleeing their country of origin.
Those things are bound to impact a child’s psyche. Therapy becomes even more crucial when the child refugee was a direct victim of such atrocities. It’s not uncommon for these children to experience or be exposed to
- physical violence,
- diseases and infections,
- forced labor, and
- sexual assault.
Because of these, they’re at a higher risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.
What they experienced and witnessed severely inhibits their holistic growth and degrades their quality of life. To give refugee children a chance at a healthy life, they need the help of a therapist.
Supporting Them In Facing Their Losses
One of the biggest heartbreaks refugee children go through is losing those they hold dear. They experience profound losses, regardless of their reason for fleeing from their country of origin. They lose the familiarity they’ve grown accustomed to growing up. That includes their
- customs and traditions, and
- lifestyle and routines.
They may feel like they lost their identity and what they’ve built over the years. When refugee children reach their host countries, they don’t get to enjoy lavish lifestyles. Most of the time, they deal with poverty and cultural shock. So, they can’t go back to the comfort of their familial and cultural traditions and celebrations.
But perhaps the most traumatic loss refugee children experience is the death of loved ones. Extreme conditions, like wars and disasters, force families to flee their homes. Their displacement comes with the loss of numerous lives. Deaths take a toll on the well-being of refugee children. So, therapy is integral in helping them heal from that experience.
Helping Them Adjust To A New Life
Refugees face a new set of problems after reaching their host country. Their struggles are worsened by
- language barriers,
- culture shock,
- mental and physical health problems,
- lack of employment,
- isolation from the community, and more.
So, it will be tremendously challenging for refugees, more so for children, to adapt to that new environment.
A therapist can help refugee children begin to adapt to their current situation. That entails supporting them mentally and emotionally as they learn about what happened to them and what will happen after. It’s almost guaranteed for them to be confused and in shock. But a therapist can help refugee guardians and parents in supporting their children’s adjustment.
With the help of a therapist, these kids could start learning how to adapt to their new lives. Their circumstances aren’t ideal, but refugees must learn how to cope with their situation. This adjustment stage also includes processing and accepting previous problems. Through this, they can start their journey toward healing.
Empowering Them In Their Journey Forward
Being a refugee entails entire sets of pains, heartbreaks, and challenges. Unfortunately, children aren’t exempted from those difficulties. At such a young age, they experience things that not even adults can survive through unscathed.
A therapist may recommend them to attend support groups, especially with those who speak the same language. A support system like that may instill a sense of community in them. It may also help them connect with those who’ve had similar experiences. Moreover, letting children mingle with those who speak their mother tongue will encourage them to communicate more.
Additionally, therapists may suggest art activities to help refugee kids express themselves. Once they do, professionals will be able to help them more. To many refugee children, the future doesn’t seem so bright. That is the sad reality for many, so it’s crucial to help empower them. Through the help of therapy, they can begin to take steps forward.
To Wrap Up
Life isn’t easy for refugee children. Their experiences leave trauma which will likely stay with them even as they grow older. Their mental, emotional, and physical wounds run deep and affect how they live and view life.
Every day is a struggle for these young kids. After all, the challenges don’t stop once they’re able to flee to safety from their country of origin. Instead, they have to deal with a new set of hurdles. However, with the help of therapy, they may begin taking small steps toward healing.
These children deserve a chance at life. That must start with the opportunity to heal from past wounds. Therapy can help them process everything they’re going through so that they can lead brighter lives in the future.