How Refugees Struggling With PTSD Handle Their Mental Condition

A disorder known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can develop after going through or seeing any upsetting experience that causes refugees to worry for their safety. After a terrible event in their home country, it’s acceptable to feel scared, depressed, nervous, and alienated. However, if these feelings persist, you may be experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder. Let’s discuss more in this article about what they are going through.

A disorder known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can develop after going through or seeing any upsetting experience. These people may discover ways to control their signs and symptoms, lessen upsetting thoughts, and carry on with their lives by getting medical care, getting assistance, and learning novel techniques for coping. Let's help them.

Refugee Dealing With PTSD

Though war trauma or warfare is the most prevalent trigger in men, most refugees link PTSD with certain factors like sexual assault or troops who have been injured in combat. However, any experience can bring on PTSD—or multiple traumatic events—that leaves people feeling utterly helpless and hopeless and breaks their hearts emotionally. This is especially true if the event seems unpredictably unexpected.

Refugees and asylum seekers who watch or experience firsthand the tragic event, as well as those who gather up the remnants later, like law enforcement and emergency personnel, may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It can also happen to friends or relatives of individuals who experienced traumatic events or the tragedy. Regardless of the reason behind stress-related situations refugees endure, such as PTSD, they may discover ways to control their signs and symptoms, lessen upsetting thoughts, and carry on with their lives by getting medical care, getting assistance, and learning novel techniques for coping. PTSD in these people can cause them to feel trapped in unpleasant recollections and an ongoing sense of risk following a traumatic event. However, refugee children can feel safe once more and move on if they learn new coping mechanisms for certain mental disorders.


Refugees’ brain systems trigger the fight-or-flight reaction in response to stressful and potentially traumatic events. Their muscles tense up, their heart rate quickens, and their blood pressure spikes, enhancing their stamina and quickness of response. After the threat has passed, the neurological system of the refugee settles the body, lowering blood pressure and heart rate as it returns to normal. However, these signs are usually temporary for the majority of individuals. They gradually disappear and can linger for a few weeks or even days. However, if refugees have a serious mental disorder like prolonged grief disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder, they do not see a gradual improvement in their clinical signs over time. Things might get worse for refugees having mental disorders.

Because each individual has a somewhat distinct brain structure and stress tolerance, PTSD manifests itself in different ways in various individuals. Although symptoms associated with PTSD are more likely to manifest in the hours or days after a traumatic experience for these people, they can occasionally take weeks, months, or years to manifest. Sometimes, indications seem to come on suddenly. On other occasions, they are brought on by something—a sound, an image, a phrase, or a scent—that brings them back to the initial traumatic experience.

When migrant refugee populations go through too much anxiety and stress within a setting, PTSD happens. Even though the threat has subsided, the body’s nervous system is “immobilized,” preventing it from regaining balance and allowing it to proceed following the experience. For these people to recover and get past the unbearable psychological trauma, PTSD recovery entails assisting their brain function.

They gradually disappear and can linger for a few weeks or even days. However, if refugees have a serious mental disorder like prolonged grief disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Refugees Health – Refugee Dealing With PTSD


According to experts in a diagnostic and statistical manual, treatment for mental health problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder can assist asylum seekers in taking back control of their lives. The main course of treatment is psychotherapy, though medicine may also be used. By giving them time and teaching them how to manage their symptoms, encouraging them to reflect more positively about themselves, other individuals, and the world, and providing them with coping mechanisms in case their symptoms recur, integrating these therapies can help refugees feel better. Some experts also utilize the Harvard trauma questionnaire that can assist with financial difficulty for treatment-seeking refugees.

Cognitive therapy is among the therapies available to refugees. This kind of talk therapy assists you in identifying the thought patterns and behavioral patterns that are preventing individuals from moving on, such as self-defeating attitudes and the possibility that incidents of trauma will recur. Cognitive therapy is frequently used in addition to narrative exposure therapy and trauma exposure therapy for PTSD. Through this particular therapy treatment, they can cautiously confront memories and events that make them feel uncomfortable and establish appropriate coping mechanisms. In particular, exposure therapy might be beneficial for nightmares and flashbacks. One strategy makes use of virtual reality applications to enable them to return to the environment in which they were traumatized.

Additionally, refugees may benefit from a variety of drugs that might lessen PTSD symptoms. Antidepressants are available for some of these drugs to combat PTSD symptom severity. These can lessen anxiety and depressive symptoms. Additionally, they can aid with concentration issues and sleep issues. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved paroxetine (Paxil) and sertraline (Zoloft) as SSRIs for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Chronic stress, anxiety, and related issues can be relieved by these prescribed medications. However, since there is a chance of drug abuse, anti-anxiety drugs are often only taken temporarily.

It should be noted that refugees must inform the healthcare provider of any drug side effects or issues. Before determining which drug is best for them, they might have to experiment with a variety of different medications or a mixture of them, and their healthcare professionals may need to modify the dosage or program.

Coping And Support

Refugees must consult a specialist or psychological professional if stress and other issues brought on by a traumatic experience impact their lives. As their post-traumatic stress disorder treatment progresses, they can additionally do the following:

Observe The Treatment Program

Treatment can be beneficial, and the majority of refugee patients do recover, even if it may take some time to notice improvements with counseling or drug prescriptions. Reminding people that it requires time is important for continued healing and recovery. Refugees will make progress if they adhere to the treatment approach and maintain regular contact with a professional in the field of mental health.

Learn About Refugees With PTSD

The entire life of a refugee can be affected by post-traumatic stress disorder, including their employment, interpersonal interactions, mental well-being, and satisfaction with daily activities. In addition to increasing the likelihood of substance or alcohol abuse, suffering from PTSD may also put refugees at higher risk for other mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. It will be easier for refugees to comprehend what they are currently going through and how to support themselves or their loved ones if they are aware of how PTSD can impact individuals. Symptoms of PTSD might impact physical health issues. With this understanding, they may better comprehend how they’re feeling and create coping mechanisms that will assist them to respond appropriately. If possible, discussing the unpleasant experiences with an experienced psychotherapist can help the patient feel less isolated and in control by educating them about their symptoms.


Any intentional action taken by refugees to look for their physical, mental, and emotional well-being is referred to as self-care. Self-care principles such as eating well, managing stress, getting regular physical activity, and taking breaks when necessary can assist refugees in maintaining their resilience, welfare, and happiness. Self-care can improve one’s psychological well-being by assisting individuals with stress management, reducing their chance of sickness, and boosting their vitality. Finding a fun exercise that they can do daily has been reported by many persons with PTSD to have improved their symptoms and lowered their stress levels. Make time for relaxation, exercise, consume a nutritious diet, and get adequate sleep. Try to limit or stay away from nicotine and caffeine.

Don’t Self-Medicate

Self-medication may provide some short-term respite, but in the long run, it will only make refugees’ issues worse. Regular self-medication by refugees, whether they use prescription pharmaceuticals, alcohol, or illicit drugs, can result in addiction, exacerbate anxiety and depression, and cause more health issues. Self-medication can be risky, as it can result in several issues and poor health. Taking an incorrect prescription or making an inaccurate self-diagnosis are two possible hazards associated with self-medication. Misuse of medications without systematic review from experts or inappropriate dosage can sometimes result in harmful drug interactions. It is unhealthy for migrants to use drugs or alcohol to dull their emotions, even if it may be an alluring coping mechanism. It can impede the effectiveness of therapy, cause more issues later on, and impede true healing.

Remain Socially Active

Participating in social events and maintaining relationships with others can help refugees feel better about themselves and gain more confidence. For refugees, maintaining social engagement may be more difficult under certain circumstances. For example, they might see fewer individuals daily. Social interaction can boost empathy and self-worth, help them manage their emotions, reduce anxiety and stress, and strengthen their immune systems. Refugees should interact with loving and sustaining individuals such as friends, family members, religious leaders, and others. If they choose not to, they are under no obligation to discuss what happened to them that caused their trauma. But they should note that spending time with loved ones can be consoling and restorative.

By giving them time and teaching them how to manage their symptoms, encouraging them to reflect more positively about themselves, other individuals, and the world, and providing them with coping mechanisms in case their symptoms recur, integrating these therapies can help them feel better.


Utilize Support Groups

Seek assistance from a counselor or other mental health professional for refugees in locating a support group. Alternatively, reach out to organizations or the local social services system. Alternatively, use an internet directory to find nearby support groups. Speak with people to get support. Positive things frequently happen when refugees or survivors speak to people about their struggles. These people must attempt to interact with people rather than focus on their solitude. Additionally, they must ask for help directly to know what they require. They might feel less alone and more understood with other people’s help.

Final Thoughts

Learning more about PTSD and typical responses to stress is helpful for refugees and trauma survivors. Establish what is typical. Learn the warning signals that indicate they may require outside help. These people discover they are not weak, insane, or alone when they discover that PTSD symptoms are common. Knowing that many other people have the same issues as them is helpful. They will be better equipped to manage PTSD symptoms if they seek treatment and gain insight into how they react to trauma.


How Does PTSD Affect A Person’s Daily Life?

How Does Trauma Emerge For Diverse Migrant Populations?

Can People With PTSD Live Normal Lives?

How Does PTSD Affect Relationships?

How Does PTSD Affect Human Behavior?

Why is PTSD important to society?
What can happen if PTSD is not treated?
How often are people affected by PTSD?
Who does PTSD most commonly affect?
How do people with PTSD respond to trauma?
How long does it take to recover from PTSD?
How is PTSD typically treated?
Can you live with PTSD without treatment?
Can PTSD get better without treatment?
Why do people with PTSD avoid treatment?

Situations That All Refugees Endure

Because of conflict, post-migration stressors, and acts of political or religious persecution, refugees have gone through a great deal of incredibly difficult situations. Since the trauma experienced by refugees frequently occurs before the main war-related incident that prompts their flight, it is challenging to even categorize all of the traumatic events they have gone through. However, what other factors contribute to the mental health of refugees? These are a few stress-related scenarios that may affect a refugee’s mental and physical health.

Understand the emotional and mental impacts of certain situations to refugees. Learn about other factors contribute to the mental health dilemma so you can find ways to assist them in their struggles. In addition, asylum seekers affected by resettlement have challenges in obtaining suitable accommodation or camps, lack of employment, restricted access to resources, and limited community support during certain events.

Stressful Situations Refugees Endure


When refugees relocate to an accepting nation or country—usually one they did not choose—refugees must acclimate to a new environment and culture while facing unknown situations and unpredictable futures. This one is called post-migration. Rebuilding a place of residence and identity while attempting to balance the demands of day-to-day life represents yet another major and stressful situations for the refugee.

  • These persons must contend with additional issues, including cultural differences and societal acceptance and judgment, as they strive to blend into situations or environments they are not used to.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner, one of the positively related difficulties of resettlement is adjusting to the loss of cultural heritage, language, and community. It is necessary to adjust to a novel and unfamiliar setting. Refugee children frequently find themselves caught between past and present cultures due to having to learn new languages and social norms faster than refugees older family members, and refugees regularly depart from their family members.

  • In addition, asylum seekers affected by resettlement have challenges in obtaining suitable accommodation or refugee camps, lack of employment, restricted access to resources, and limited community support during certain situations.


Unemployed refugees are frequently more vulnerable to several difficulties, such as trouble obtaining work at some point and an absence in income. The unemployment of refugees affects financial markets and society at large. A person’s likelihood of experiencing potential negative impacts and adding to the cumulative impact of joblessness on the community as a whole increases with the length of refugees unemployment.

  • High unemployment rates are associated with several negative factors, such as underfunded schools, inadequate housing, few recreational possibilities, restricted access to public transit and public services, and limited employment chances.

Apart from its influence on individuals and society, unemployment also significantly impacts the economy as a whole. The flood of refugees into cities may result in power and water shortages, raising expenditures for both the communities that welcome the refugee population. It may also cause refugees overcrowding in medical and educational facilities, a rise in pollution and traffic congestion, and pressure for homes and occupations.

Millions of these people are becoming hungry due to massive displacement, unemployment, and extreme poverty. An economic catastrophe inevitably follows, regardless of their own nation’s corruption and high unemployment rate.


Torture corrupts the organizations and cultures in which it is practiced. The severity of trauma, or brutal treatment, differs depending on the historical period and group. Despite the horrific nature of torture, reports of a physical torture syndrome that is distinct from the clinical aftereffects of severe trauma persist. This syndrome is thought to be a reliable indicator of both physical and mental health problems among war refugees. It is extremely difficult for traumatized migrants to recuperate emotionally and occasionally physically, and their mental health needs must be carefully evaluated and provided. During the pre-migration trauma, refugees are robbed, made to kill or cause discomfort, and they see killing or suffering done to them. Refugees may, regrettably, have witnessed or participated in the death of close friends or loved ones and be subjected to extraordinarily stress-related conditions, and this can impact their mental health status.

The opposition to the administration sparked more unrest and bloodshed, which led to a bloody war that turned into a lengthy, intricate battle for psychological well-being. These cause refugees to experience powerful memories, hallucinations that are so real, nightmares, and flashbacks that make it seem like the trauma is taking place again. In addition, it exacerbates sleep issues like insomnia and makes refugees retreat from people and circumstances as their zest for life wanes during forced migration or forced displacement. Torture devastates refugees, destroys the judicial system, damages the supremacy of law, and undermines public confidence in government agencies and the states refugees serve.

Millions of these people are becoming hungry due to massive displacement, unemployment, and extreme poverty. An economic catastrophe inevitably follows, regardless of their own nation's corruption and high unemployment rate.

Mental Health Services

Many refugees get settled in a new or other country feeling weary, worn, and occasionally distressed. They might also be unwell as a result of the unhygienic surroundings refugees travel through. These consist of traumas from violence, relocation, resettlement, exposure to transmissible diseases like tuberculosis, and vulnerability to malnutrition and chronic illnesses like diabetes. All of these traumatic experiences have the potential to lead to psychological health conditions like depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. However, the primary problem is the scarcity of resources for mental health services, which acts as an additional barrier that might restrict access to medical care and raise the possibility of unfavorable health consequences. When individuals cannot access the healthcare system, obtain convenient treatment locally, spend money on serious mental disorder care, or have their medical needs satisfied, there is always an issue.

Due to several obstacles, including their legal status, inability to pay for insurance coverage, and reluctance to receive treatment, most refugees cannot make use of the benefits offered by the healthcare system. The biggest obstacle facing people and families as a result of discriminatory opportunities for insurance is and has always been the expensive expense of medical treatment. It has a significant role in health inequities. In the absence of national restrictions, refugees cannot access healthcare services that include illness, mental disorders such as traumatic stress disorder PTSD, evaluation, treatment, medication, and management of mental health disorders and other health problems. It’s not necessarily a matter of the health sector having inadequate money. Rather, the nation’s limitations on the availability of wellness services for the refugees’ PTSD symptoms.

Poor Living

Lack of resources that can be used to generate revenue and maintain sustainable livelihoods is not the only aspect of poverty. Poverty has greater repercussions than merely skipping meals. Its symptoms extend to starvation and malnourishment, restricted opportunities for essential services and learning, social marginalization and discrimination, and a lack of involvement in decision-making. Nearly all of the numerous refugees suffer from malnutrition and have compromised immune systems. This explains why problems with physical wellness are currently the most common health issues. Because of this, refugees need welfare necessities, including shelter, fresh clothing, a nutritious meal, a bed, access to a restroom, etc.

Poverty-stricken refugees lack a means of getting enough food, proper clothing, safe drinking water, and health services. Lack of these essentials results in sickness and disease. The majority of migrants suffer from chronic illnesses, including starvation and lack of funds to see a doctor. These include a divided society, homelessness and rental housing issues, and the financial consequences of low social standing.


Prisons are believed to inflict several forms of harm, including damage to one’s physical and mental well-being, psychological strain, heightened probability of reoffending, tainted perceptions of authority or legal power due to unjust resolution of complaints, and issues with family relationships. Refugees suffer the repercussions of being foreigners in an unknown land, which puts them at risk factors of detention. Feelings of isolation and a diminished social support system thus emerge as serious problems. In addition, prejudice and harassment by other individuals, adults, or authorities and officials are common throughout incarceration.

The primary cause of incarceration or imprisonment is typically the lack of enough detention facilities to hold noncitizens until they are expelled from the state they presently reside in or until immigration processes can be completed. It is frequently challenging for refugees to acquire sanctuary from nations that do not accept them. Although some may be fleeing intimidation, most depart because refugees have no choice but to go. A person’s life or independence may be in danger because of their ethnicity, religion, ethnic background, political orientation, or membership in a certain refugee group. They face social opposition where they go, as well as restricted rights and safeguards.


Being deceived by their citizens, opposing forces, or the governing structures of wider society may be the most lasting impact of all the traumatic situations refugees endure. When other people’s behaviors take center stage in refugees’ lives, it negatively impacts their well-being and their capacity to build trustworthy interpersonal relationships—two things that are essential for both their psychological and emotional recovery.

In stress-related situations such as these resettlement stress, individuals typically receive a token of appreciation if they murder or kill every member of their refugee group. That means that refugees probably can’t go home or are afraid to. Unfortunately, some refugees are members of marginalized groups, and as such, their government does not prioritize them as much. They consequently find themselves abandoned or expelled from their state, without the backing of their government, and rejected by other surrounding nations.

These consist of traumas from violence, relocation, resettlement, exposure to transmissible diseases like tuberculosis, and vulnerability to malnutrition and chronic illnesses like diabetes. All of these traumatic experiences have the potential to lead to psychological health conditions like depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.

Final Thoughts On Stressful Situations Refugees Endure

A few of the issues that refugees worry about are rape, intense terror, physical assault, starvation, brutal treatment, and loss of income. Refugees, too, have lives to live. Working with community organizations is crucial to ensuring that refugees are incorporated into the communities where refugees have settled, as the vast majority of refugees in other nations are expected to settle. We develop a stronger sense of belonging the more we comprehend. Keep up on global emergencies, and let’s sustain a strong bond by lending a hand to others. Become a part of a worldwide community of campaigners supporting refugees.

By speaking out against discrimination and ensuring that refugees are accepted into our community, we can use our voices to help refugees and fight for their rights. We are enabling refugees to start over by speaking up for them.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How Can We Prevent Immigration Stress?

What Are The Solutions To The Problems Of Refugees?

What Are Durable Solutions To Refugee Problems?

Why Is The Refugee Crisis So Important?

How Are Refugees Affected Mentally?

How Are People Affected By Becoming Refugees?

What Is The Best Way To Help Refugees?

How Can We Help Refugees Settle In?

What Are The Biggest Obstacles That Refugees Must Overcome?

What Challenges Do Refugees Face Today?

What Are The Causes Of Refugees?

What Is The Resettlement Of Refugees?

What Are Some Of The Key Characteristics Of A Successful, Durable Solution?

What Is The Meaning Of Refugees?

Do Today’s Resettlement Practices Offer Refugees A Durable Solution?



Why Therapy Is Crucial For Refugee Children

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 

    • wars, 
    • human rights violations,
    • economic and environmental hardships, 
    • persecution, and 
    • displacement. 

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, 
    • injuries, 
    • 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

    • home, 
    • community,
    • 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 for the refugees dealing with PTSD most traumatic loss 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, 
    • poverty, 
    • 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.

Why Pregnant Refugee Women Should Receive Therapy

Refugees are at greater risk for infectious diseases, trauma, violence, and insufficient access to healthcare. For pregnant female refugees, these dangers are heightened due to the possibility of prenatal complications.

While migrant and refugee women are entitled to healthcare services in the host country, they still experience challenges that impede their access to proper healthcare. These can include cultural differences, racial prejudice, language barriers, and limited financial resources. Therefore, female refugees are in an extremely vulnerable position. 


As such, we should prioritize pregnant refugee women’s mental health. Alongside proper physical care, we need to set systems to give them accessible therapy and counseling services. In doing so, we provide them with a better chance of integrating and thriving in our communities. 

Read on to find out how therapy is beneficial for pregnant refugee women.

For Pregnancy Complications

Up to 15% of pregnant refugee and immigrant women experience life-threatening obstetric complications. Pregnant refugees and immigrants have an increased risk of adverse perinatal outcomes. As much as 47.7% of pregnant Syrian refugees suffer miscarriages, while other infants die during or shortly after childbirth.

Because of these prenatal complications, the risk of mental health issues among pregnant refugees is higher. In addition, other factors related to pregnancy and childbirth may pose negative effects on their mental health. These factors include:

    • congenital anomalies, 
    • stillbirths, and 
    • cesarean sections.

In such events, a woman may feel depressed and isolated. Feelings of guilt, anger, anxiety and overwhelming grief may arise. To address these experiences, therapy can help them in

    • easing the pain of their loss,
    • regaining control over their emotions, 
    • working through their worries, 
    • eliminating fears of pregnancy, and
    • healing faster.

For Traumatic Experiences

Many events and factors can cause trauma, such as war, abuse, and poverty. Often, refugees have experienced all three. After fleeing their homes, they are usually forced to live under dire circumstances. Lack of access to water and electricity and food scarcity are just some of the problems they face. These poor conditions lead to more issues, such as malnutrition.

The difficulties of poverty are even more prominent among refugees, especially pregnant women. They may be so busy surviving, scavenging for food and shelter that they disregard their prenatal needs. Their feelings of stress and powerlessness may also increase because of:

    • financial issues
    • employment insecurities
    • infectious diseases
    • poor housing conditions

 All these factors can contribute to the trauma they experience.

So, therapy should be accessible to help pregnant refugee women as they work through their trauma. Through therapy, they can learn skills on how to manage symptoms and develop healthy coping strategies. Ongoing nutritional support, counseling, and early intervention are also critical for having a healthy and safe pregnancy. 

For Sexual Violence

Sexual and domestic abuse can traumatize an individual. All genders suffer from this type of trauma. But women have the highest rate of suffering from sexual and domestic abuse. An estimated 90% of sexual assault victims are female.


It is common for pregnant women with a history of sexual abuse to have traumatic flashbacks, even before or during childbirth. Refugee women have been found to suffer most from intimate partner violence, domestic violence, or other forms of gender-based violence. Due to cultural differences, refugee women might hesitate to speak up about the abuse. They fear that perceptions toward this type of violence would only lead to more emotional hurt. 

Exposure to violence can affect maternal and newborn health outcomes. A study in Switzerland found that immigrant women were more likely to be exposed to violence during pregnancy. Trafficked or infibulated women may find it difficult to access maternity care due to the fear of disclosing details of their situation.

Sexual violence might make it harder for refugee women to avail themselves of prenatal care. Reluctance to seek healthcare leads to several pregnancy complications and, in severe cases, death. Therefore, victims of abuse, especially pregnant refugee victims, should receive therapy. Counseling and therapy will help them:

    • move past the trauma
    • reclaim their sexual health
    • improve their physical health
    • feel empowered again

For Depression

There is an increased risk of mental illnesses and depression in refugee women during the pregnancy and perinatal phases. Though there may be other causes of depression, the factors indicated above may only worsen their diagnosis. To a grave extent, mental illness might even push them to suicide. Other factors affecting their mental health include social isolation, language barriers, and belonging to an ethnic minority.

Having a solid support group is crucial for pregnant women. However, many refugees and immigrant childbearing women lack social networks. This negligence leaves them feeling:

    • lonely
    • isolated
    • hopeless
    • deeply distressed

Without support, women become worried about having no one to turn to for advice, making child-rearing more difficult and causing tension between spouses.

Pregnant refugee and immigrant women are in dire need of access to psychological help and appropriate support programs. More than making them feel supported, therapy helps them to:

    • address the root of their problems
    • manage stress and emotions better
    • foster good relationships
    • develop adaptive coping mechanisms

Wrapping Up

Therapy is indeed crucial for pregnant refugee women to ensure a healthy pregnancy and safe childbirth. However, several barriers hinder their access to proper healthcare, such as: 

    • language barriers
    • cultural differences
    • discrimination and prejudice
    • biases and stereotypes

Federal funding cuts, the time-sensitive nature of perinatal care, and limited resources paired with refugee influxes could also pose additional challenges. As we begin to recognize other determinants of health, mental well-being, alongside physical well-being, is becoming just as important. Thus, maternity services should incorporate therapy and develop trauma-informed care to:

    • promote a culture of safety
    • form trusting relationships between pregnant refugee women and healthcare providers
    • support the needs of these vulnerable women and their children properly

The multi-layered barriers that refugee women face can make their pregnancy even more challenging. So, developing programs and interventions that will provide them with adequate healthcare services is essential. Health, after all, is everyone’s fundamental right, including refugees.

Help For Refugees: Trauma Counseling For Healing And Recovery




Approximately five million South African people make up 10% of the whole population – that are currently affected by PTSD to the degree that could be considered and must be treated by a psychologist or other mental health professionals. Someone who has gone through rape, abuse, violent crimes, hijacking, vehicular accidents, or chronic disease could be inflicted with longstanding effects from their experiences.

The aftermath of trauma surpasses the victim, negatively affecting families as much as their communities. The South African Depression and Anxiety Group states that the hidden cost to the country’s economy due to several behavioral and medical issues that complement PTSD is estimated to be at a whopping amount of R40 billion annually.

Trauma And Crisis Differentiated

Experts define a crisis as an ‘event decision point,’ while trauma is the actual process of experiencing the event.

A crisis is a real point in a period of time when a crucial decision has to be made concerning a particular event. Additionally, a decision made in the moment of crisis would most likely have a permanent effect on an individual, society, or community as a whole. The outcome of a decision taken during a crisis point would almost always signal progress or a visible decline of the circumstance from that period onwards. Hence, a crisis is considered a turning point.

Trauma is the process of going through a situation or event. It frequently has a longstanding harmful effect on someone, a group of persons, society, or the community as a whole.


Essentially, trauma can be likened to a deep mental wound, one that has a significant impression on the emotional state and daily functioning of the refugees dealing with PTSD. Frequently, feelings and opinions become consumed by the traumatic event, making focus almost impossible, coping skills weak, and decision-making imprecise. Responses, which often include detachment, shock, anxiety, depression, and misperception, can vary from minor to major to worst and can continue for months or years after the initial encounter.


The Outcome Of Trauma

One of the most prevalent outcomes of trauma is PTSD or posttraumatic stress disorder. PTSD is a specific range of responses that could manifest in people who have gone through trauma. Those who suffer frequently feel intensely afraid, like the fear they felt when experiencing the event itself. It is also common for those who have gone through PTSD to manifest other mental health challenges. Anxiety disorder, addiction, or depression can emerge directly as a reaction to PTSD or a traumatic encounter.

The Effect Of PTSD And Trauma

PTSD does not choose age, race, social status, or gender. Its effects are not just limited to those who have been directly affected by the traumatic event. Researchers report that PTSD and trauma have a gamut of outcomes.

  • Traumatic events typically exhaust the family’s efforts, money, and time, interrupting working, growing, and learning. As a result, families have an even greater difficulty performing their daily tasks and withstanding the vital beliefs and traditions used to bind them together.
  • When stress gets too overbearing, couples may have difficulties dealing with intimacy and their feelings, communicating effectively, resulting in a greater chance of separation.
  • Trauma resonates across societies and communities, and this damages the very core of a functional society. It could also affect many generations, building a legacy of endless distress. If unsettled, the overwhelming trauma of culture loss, forced removal of communities and families, and genocide become some ‘mental baggage,’ constantly being recreated and done by generations to generations.

Trauma Counseling

Managing emotional damage that almost always goes with trauma is not easy, especially without professional help. Truly, the functions of a certified counselor are even more crucial when one realizes that if not managed appropriately, the aftermath of trauma can go on indeterminately. In fact, they can totally affect the lives of refugees and their mental health, as well as the other sufferers and the people around them.

How It Works

The principle that one size fits all does not apply to trauma therapy at all. Still, counselors efficiently deal with individuals, families, and communities to learn positive ways of dealing with emotions and behavioral patterns that have grown due to trauma. This could also entail assisting them in regulating strong feelings and learning to trust again.

Trauma counseling offers an avenue for people to open up and talk about their feelings and encounters. It also enables people to practices techniques for managing the current challenges that they’re confronted with. Trauma counselors give compassionate and effective support to their clients without getting too emotionally tangled or engrossed in their situations.


Counseling In South Africa

Activists and healthcare professionals continually urge government leaders to address the extreme cases of psychological trauma where a large proportion of the country’s population suffers. The distressed need for more counselors in the field of trauma in South Africa can’t be overemphasized. Without the vital services these trained counselors offer, there is little chance of getting rid of the country’s existing pain and ending its tenacious damage.

Trauma counseling is customized to each circumstance.

Because there is no other comparison to the pandemic lockdown, its complete physical, mental, and emotional impact remains unclear. But the abrupt and severely damaging events can stimulate a traumatic reaction in people and communities. Hence, the prolonging experience of the lockdown, such as in adults and children in South Africa, will most probably heighten the requirement for trauma counselors across the globe.



Refugees: A Comprehensive Overview On Displaced Migrants and Protecting Asylum Seekers

The present rhetoric concerning displaced people issues in the media has been a brutalizing reaction to the continuing conflict in Syria that has added to the biggest catastrophe in the world since the violence of old wars. The other countries are confronted with unparalleled encounters of caring for thousands of refugee people in dire need.

The present rhetoric concerning refugees issues talked about by the media has been a brutalizing reaction to the continuing unrest in Syria that has added to the biggest catastrophe since the old wars. The course of immigration to the United States is not quite the same as the pictures exemplified in the media

A displaced refugee is a serious matter indeed. The course of displaced people’s immigration to the United States is not quite the same as the pictures exemplified in the media through words like swarms or outpouring international refugees crossing the international border in the wee hours of the night, those who may pose a danger or cannot be inspected.

An Overview Of The System

The truth is, after World War II, asylum seekers of any race, religion, or nationality membership undergo inspections and interviews before getting accepted and allowed to travel to the United States, according to the international law of America’s Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Normally, this could take at least two years of the life of an asylum seeker to be put on pause.

Primary needs are only met via donations, and outsiders and external organizations make crucial decisions.

Evaluation Of The United Nations High Commissioner Organization

The United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees (UNHCR) is tasked to interview those who flee for safety and identify whether these refugees, including women and children, possess a well-founded fear of being persecuted. It reports that 1% is endorsed to a third country for relocation. These are frequently classified as the most exposed and those with no other stable solution. Refugees themselves don’t opt to be relocated or where to be relocated. The country where refugees (asylum seekers) are relocated follows security rules and health evaluations. If the refugee’s status is cleared, it is endorsed to the appropriate organization for resettlement. The displaced people resettlement organizations identify which local partner to endorse the displaced people’s family for reception and relocation services.

The partners welcome the new refugees and offer education, case management, introduction, and counseling while connecting with the local communities to enable integration.

Helping Refugees Resettle Towards A Successful Future

The rising global crisis should provoke the concerned professionals’ obligation to social justice and diversity. Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary-General, once a displaced person himself, said that displaced people might have lost their homes but should not be robbed of their futures.

The Counselors can help them after resettlement and towards a successful future.

Relocation work in the initial months is done through non-profit groups affiliating with the government and frequently with insufficient resources. Some who arrive have family or friends or a particular social group in the community, and others do not have a single acquaintance in the country they are relocated to.

Refugees on a festival day. Originated from various backgrounds, religions, & language. The rising crisis overseas provoke professionals’ obligation for a social justice. UN Secretary-General, said: they might have lost their homes, but should not be robbed of their future.

The first three months can place a profound burden on displaced person’s families whose expectations are not yet met.

Anxiety can cause loneliness, and an asylum seeker’s family roles may be overturned.

It is a course that involves welcoming new members to the community and assisting them in their journey through self-sufficiency.

It will be of great help if counseling professionals are present during this event. It is not just a humanitarian responsibility but also a chance for countries to take advantage of the skills and potential of these new evacuees.  Counselors are tasked to accelerate coordination, self-sufficiency, and professional success for them so that they and the country can reap positive benefits.

Their Origin

These refugees originate from various backgrounds, religions, work experiences, languages, and capacities. The counselors’ skills are suitable for evaluating displaced people’s different histories and matching them to the country’s needs that they settle in, guiding them through a profession instead of a job that merely helps them sustain themselves.

Different Ways To Help Refugees Thrive In Their New Country

There are a lot of ways that a counselor can help displaced people succeed in their new country. Introducing them to the goals and strategies of achieving their aspirations amidst stressful situations requires a harmony of roles. This may be dealing with finances, discussing junk mail issues, introducing social norms, or promoting various opportunities to them.

Counselors may:

    • Assist in refugee relief efforts and relocation organizations
    • Communicate with refugee resettlement agencies and provide consultation
    • Take action against the negative rhetoric concerning immigration and cultural organizations that contribute to stress, fear, seclusion, and discrimination against a refugee. Refugees and host countries benefit from being kind, welcoming, and open to helping others learn about their culture.
    • Support educational programs for a refugee, hundreds of whom have had their education disrupted by travel and war.
    • Oversee the services provided for a refugee and assess how available and efficient they are to a refugee and an immigrant. Refugee relocation organizations aim to support new immigrants but must also incorporate them into society and endorse them to other agencies. The accessibility of refugee agencies to the displaced people’s population depends on the cultural competency of those offering them.
Refugees themselves don't opt to be relocated or where to be relocated. The country where asylum seekers are relocated to follows security rules and health evaluations. Normally, this could take at least two years of the life of an asylum seeker to be put on pause,

Final Thoughts

What do counselors need to be aware of about refugee status? They can and must help displaced people who are seeking asylum. As displaced people fled their homes, they had to settle in a new home somewhere else, including procuring a job and an education. Counselors can tackle the trauma of this disruption, and educate the displaced people about the economic and cultural environment and political opinions of refugee-hosting countries to enable them to plan for their future and promote equal opportunities for all of them.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is an asylum seeker?

Asylum seekers leave their home country to avoid persecution based on race religion nationality, social group, or political viewpoint. They seek safety in another nation without formal refugee status. Asylum seekers are in legal limbo until their status is decided.

What are the 3 types of displaced people?

The main categories of displaced people include refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced persons. Internally displaced people are forcibly displaced inside their nation. Refugees have crossed borders to avoid danger, while asylum seekers seek international protection without refugee status.

Why does one become an asylum seeker?

People seek refuge when they cannot find safety or human rights in their country. War, persecution, and natural calamities compel many to escape. They want to locate a secure place to apply for asylum and get refugee status.

What are the 6 types of displaced people?

The six types of displaced people include internally displaced, refugees, asylum seekers, stateless, climate change victims, and natural catastrophe survivors. Stateless people are vulnerable because no government recognizes them. Climate change and natural catastrophe victims are increasingly receiving international attention despite not being typical displacement categories.

What is the main problem with displaced people?

Lack of food, housing, and medical care is the biggest challenge for displaced individuals. Their human rights are also threatened by assault, exploitation, and incarceration. The host states where these refugees seek asylum are often unprepared or unwilling to help.

How can we help displaced people?

Helping displaced individuals requires urgent and long-term answers. Long-term stability requires structural reform, which the United Nations promotes. Humanitarian help may provide temporary relief. Helping governments implement inclusive and compassionate policies for displaced people is another approach to have a lasting influence.

What do refugees need most?

Refugees need food, water, and shelter now. Long-term, they need education, jobs, and healthcare. These services help refugees and enhance host communities. Resources are crucial in both the short and long term to address these needs.

Why do refugees get denied?

For several reasons, refugees may be refused asylum. Sometimes, there’s no proof to support their fear of persecution based on race, religion, or political opinion. Some nations’ strict immigration regulations might also deny asylum petitions.

What happens to refugees who are refused?

When refugees are refused asylum, they risk deportation to their home countries, where they may confront the perils they left. They may also be jailed or in legal limbo, increasing their risks.

Do refugees have rights?

International laws and treaties, especially human rights ones, provide refugees with rights. These rights include the right to labor, education, and not being forced to return to a dangerous nation.

What is a refugee?

Refugees have fled their native country due to persecution, war, or other serious risks. They are often forced to flee because of their religion nationality, or affiliation with a certain group or political opinion. Refugees must leave for protection and security, unlike migrants who relocate for economic or personal reasons.

What are the main causes of refugees?

Armed wars, persecution based on race, religion, nationality, or political opinion, and large-scale natural and man-made calamities like climate change are the main causes of refugees. Interconnected factors make situations complicated and remedies harder.

What are the four types of refugees?

Refugees might escape persecution, armed conflicts, environmental issues like climate change or natural catastrophes, or vulnerable populations like women and children suffering targeted violence or exploitation.

What are examples of refugees?

Syrians fleeing civil conflict, Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar persecution, and individuals from other nations fearing climate change are refugees. These are only a few examples of the worldwide refugee crisis dominating news and international affairs.

What is the difference between migrants and refugees?

The motive for migration distinguishes migrants from refugees. People migrate for work or school and may return safely. Life-threatening situations cause refugees to be forced to flee and prevent them from returning home. Such situations often arise due to threats based on religion, nationality, or a group or political opinion.

Frequently Asked Questions For People Dreaming Of Offering CBT Counseling

I had always known that I was different from the other kids I played with at the park. While they had their hair running wild and free, mine was kept hidden in a hijab. While most of my classmates had delicious snacks and fancy lunchboxes, I always had an apple in a plain tin box. It did not help that I noticed some parents not wanting to let me play with their kids, although no one would say why. I initially thought it was because of my family’s lack of excess money. When I asked my parents about it, they were hesitant to tell me that it was more because of where we were from.

“I was born here, right?” I asked them innocently.

“Yes, you are, honey,” Dad assured me. “But your mother and I came here from Iraq to seek asylum when you were still not born. It’s only a few years ago that we became citizens of the United States.”


“So, why would people treat us differently because of that?”

“We don’t know, honey,” Mom said, shaking her head slowly. “Perhaps they don’t understand our circumstances.”

Instead of getting angry at everyone and becoming a rebellious kid, I knew early on that I had to work hard to give my parents a better life. They had a rough life before coming to the US; they suffered a little more due to some people refusing to provide them with jobs they were meant to have. So, I got straight As and one scholarship after another in college to ensure that my parents won’t need to worry about sending me to school. It was especially necessary since I wanted to become a cognitive-behavioral psychologist and therapist and was required to get a Master’s and a doctoral degree before practicing.

1. What is CBT in Counselling? 

 Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most common forms of psychotherapy that aims to help patients improve their thinking or behavior once they face various life challenges. It involves assessing an individual’s thinking pattern, given that many studies reveal that thoughts dictate actions.

For instance, if you think of awful things about someone, you may scrunch up your nose when you see them and even act rudely around them. However, if you give them the benefit of the doubt at the least, you will be open to listening to whatever their explanation may be. With the latter way of thinking, you will understand why someone acts a certain way.

2. What is CBT, and how does it work? 

 CBT is technically a talk therapy that psychologists recommend to people with depression and anxiety. It is a short-term and practical treatment that encourages patients to face their issues head-on and teaches them how to improve their views. This way, they will know how to deal with the situation better if they ever find themselves in it again.

CB therapists have unique treatment plans, but it typically starts with the patient revealing their therapists’ problems. In the goal-creation process, both parties will work on it, not just the latter. That serves as the basis for how many sessions the patient may need. Then, every succeeding session will be similar to a classroom setting, in which the therapist discusses the result of the previous one before moving on to a new topic. There will most likely be homework to be submitted when the patient meets the therapist the next time.


3. Can you do CBT on yourself? 

 Yes, you can perform CBT on yourself. It is effortless to find CBT books and online guides these days, so it is highly possible, especially when you have already experienced it and know your therapist’s process. However, if you have never done CBT before, it is still best not to self-medicate and see a licensed therapist instead.

4. Which is better, CBT or Counselling? 

 It depends on what issues you have. In case you are dealing with stress, relationship loss, miscarriage, and other sudden problems, counseling may be more suitable for you than CBT. The counselor can listen and empathize with you until you feel better.

However, if you have been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and other disorders, your psychologist may suggest CBT. Though a CB therapist may also listen and empathize with you, their approach is directed to changing your perception and behavior to help you cope with or reduce your mental illness symptoms.

5. What are the four types of talk therapies? 

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): It is a suitable treatment for people who have clear mental health goals to achieve. It also challenges the patient to recognize negative thoughts and alter them for the better.
  • Dialectic behavior therapy (DBT): It is a combination of meditation exercise and CBT. The patient may also do it one-on-one with a therapist or as a part of a group.
  • Psychodynamic therapy: In this form of talk therapy, the therapist assesses how your current behavior, thoughts, and emotions have been affected by early experiences. Thus, it may require you to go back down memory lane.
  • Humanistic therapy: This type aims to work on the patient as a whole instead of just focusing on their mental processes. It helps the individual notice their interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships and figure out how to make them better.

6. Can counselors do CBT? 

 Yes, counselors can do CBT, provided that they have acquired certification and training to do so. However, keep in mind that counseling and cognitive-behavioral therapy requires different training and licenses. Because of that, if you only have the qualifications to provide counseling, that’s all you can do. 

If you genuinely want to offer CBT, you should look for programs that will take you a step closer to that goal now.

7. What is an example of cognitive-behavioral therapy? 

 Let’s say that a patient wants to do CBT because they cannot handle work-related anxiety. A CB therapist may initially teach deep-breathing techniques to the patient to calm down even when the therapist is not with them. Then, the patient may learn some self-affirmation chants, such as, “I can do this,” “I am in a safe place,” and “I am just repeating what I have already done in the past.” Therapists may also help the patient find a useful distracting tool, like an online game, a fidget spinner, etc.


8. How long does it take for cognitive behavioral therapy to work? 

 Cognitive-behavioral therapy lasts between 12 to 20 sessions. If you have a minor mental disorder, you may notice that it is already working after a few sessions. However, for severe conditions (e.g., major depression and anxiety), the effect may not be visible until you reach the treatment end.

9. What are the three main goals in cognitive therapy? 

Cognitive therapy aims to do the following:

  • To provide mental relief by stabilizing symptoms and solving issues.
  • To teach various coping mechanisms to patients.
  • To alter the patient’s way of thinking for good to keep them from relapsing.

10. What are the CBT skills? 

 Before a mental health professional can perform cognitive-behavioral therapy, they need to develop a few skills, including:

  • Having extensive knowledge regarding the treatment
  • Creating programs that will cover all the patient’s issues
  • Discussing the problems, examples, and possible treatments for the patients
  • Showing nonjudgmental, assertive, and collaborative traits
  • Building a sense of connection with patients quickly

11. How do you set goals in CBT? 

  • Goal Identification: The first step is to determine what goals you want to achieve in CBT. For instance, you wish to stop exploding in anger immediately, be able to sleep without worries, walk in the middle of a crowd without hyperventilating, etc.
  • Starting Point Identification: This is where the patient lets the therapist know how far the former has achieved the said goals. The patient should practice honesty concerning the matter because the therapist needs this information to assess how long the treatment should be and what techniques may work.
  • Goal Breakdown: The therapist and the patient’s initial goals initially agree on the need to be broken down into smaller goals and achieved chronologically. In doing so, you may be able to predict the likely hindrances to the CBT success.

Only when you complete the three steps above that the therapy can begin. 

12. What is the focus of cognitive-behavioral therapy? 

 Cognitive-behavioral therapy’s primary focus is to help individuals alter the negative thoughts that may fill their heads whenever they are in a specific situation. Such thoughts often prevent their mental health from improving.

13. Why is CBT so popular? 

 CBT started gaining popularity in the 1990s as it had been used not only for treating mood and anxiety disorders but also for dealing with chronic physical illnesses. One of the possible reasons why it remains popular up to this date is that the process is easy to understand for everyone. After all, cognition genuinely causes people to behave in a certain way. If you modify the patient’s thinking process, their behavior will most likely change, too.

14. What is CBT for anxiety? 

  Exposure therapy is the most common form of cognitive-behavioral therapy for anxiety. The reason is that this mental disorder is not like depression or any illness that can be treated by merely talking to the patient. The therapist will need to expose the patient to their fears in a safe and structured manner until they learn how to manage the symptoms.


Final Thoughts

Last 2014, I finally received my license to practice CBT in three different states. At that point, the stigma and prejudice that my parents and I experienced in the past were already gone. All that people saw was an elderly couple with a successful daughter, which was how it’s supposed to be.


Frequently Asked Questions About Marsha Linehan And DBT

Refugees go through tough situations. Aside from the actual migration, they have to face challenging pre-migration conditions. Most have to deal with separation from their families, poor housing, or even wars. Due to these, refugees need special attention. They must receive the proper treatment to help them recover from the traumatic events they had to endure as much as possible.


Luckily, Marsha Linehan came to create Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). At the age of 17, Marsha Linehan was experiencing a difficult time with her mental health. She was inaccurately diagnosed with different disorders. Because of that, Marsha then got worse. 

One night, when she was kneeling to pray, Marsha felt this rush in her as she looked up at the cross. She went back to her room and whispered, “I love myself.” She indeed adored herself. But it was the first time when she had truly felt it. She felt so proud. At this same time, she realized the vital role that acceptance plays in the healing journey. Then she discovered Dialectical Behavior Therapy. 

From then on, Marsha continued to help better the human mind by sharing this knowledge of hers. Currently, she is a Professor Emeritus of Psychology in the Department of Psychology at the University of Washington and is Director Emeritus of the Behavioral Research and Therapy Clinics. Marsha has also spent her time researching and developing new treatments for severe disorders. 

Furthermore, Dr. Linehan created The Linehan Institute to educate and research DBT, Behavioral Tech, giving DBT and Behavioral Tech Research training. 

Marsha Linehan received several awards, including the Lifetime Achievement award from the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies in 2016. The American Association of Suicidology also created the Marsha Linehan Award for Outstanding Research in the Treatment of Suicidal Behavior. 

If you want to know more about her, here are some FAQs. 

Did Marsha Linehan have BPD?

Dr. Marsha Linehan, who developed dialectical behavior therapy (DNT), has previously had a borderline personality disorder (BPD).

At 17, she stayed in a seclusion room in a clinic because she tended to cut and hurt herself. As BPD wasn’t discovered yet at that time, she was diagnosed with schizophrenia. The treatment she received was a heavy Thorazine and Librium medication and undergoing electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), which wasn’t successful.

What are the six main points of dialectical behavior therapy?

The six main points of DBT distinguish periods in the therapy sessions where change will occur. It involves pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance, and the last is achieving mindfulness.

It starts with the patient’s unawareness, followed by the realization in the contemplation period. What follows after these two points are the therapy procedures that will cause a change in the patient’s condition. Upon processing and accepting these changes, the final point is achieving mindfulness.

What is DBT therapy good for?

DBT was initially a therapy intended to treat BPD. However, over the years, it has also been found effective for treating other mental health conditions. It includes conditions such as depression, anxiety, trauma, eating disorders, substance abuse, etc. DBT works for these conditions as the procedure helps people regulate emotions and become mindful of their thoughts and actions.

Do borderlines have empathy?

Research has shown that borderlines have reduced brain activity in regions that support empathy. The reduced brain activity in the brain of a person with BPD affects their comprehension of other people’s feelings. This brain activity may be why people with BPD often have unstable moods and have trouble maintaining their relationships.


What triggers a person with a borderline personality disorder?

The triggers of BPD often vary from patient to patient. However, there are types of triggers prevalent in the condition that may intensify their symptoms.

One of the most common BPD triggers is relationship-related triggers. Since people with BPD are more sensitive in nature, they experience intense anger and fear when abandoned. The feeling of neglect from a relationship may lead to impulsive actions, such as self-harm and thoughts of suicide.

Is BPD a brain disease?

Researchers still haven’t found a definite cause of BPD. However, it has often been linked to a history of abuse and neglect, genetics, or brain abnormalities. There is substantial evidence that BPD patients can pass on the condition. Research findings suggest that the brain abnormalities involved in BPD are a gene consequence in the brain’s development.

How is DBT different from CBT?

DBT is a specific type of CBT. Hence, DBT stems from the foundations of CBT but focuses on regulating harmful and destructive behaviors. It doesn’t only work to recognize problematic thoughts but also on accepting and managing emotions. The desired result of DBT sessions is mindfulness.

What was Dr. Linehan’s approach to developing DBT?

Dr. Linehan developed DBT as a variation of traditional CBT with a combination of acceptance and mindfulness. It integrates contradictory philosophies that allow a patient to come to terms with change and acceptance. Dr. Linehan developed DBT as a result of her condition.

What does it mean to think dialectically?

The word “dialectical” refers to the balance between contradictory views or points. Its central premise is that these opposing views can coexist rather than being categorized as one or the other. Hence, thinking dialectically means having no one absolute idea. When incorporated in DBT, it allows patients to understand and apply change and acceptance in their life.

How long does DBT therapy take to work?

The duration of DBT varies for different patients. However, it generally takes around six months for most patients to finish. It involves completing the four DBT modules, which are: emotional regulation, distress tolerance, core mindfulness, and finally, interpersonal effectiveness.

Is DBT effective for depression?

Since DBT incorporates comprehensive therapy elements, research has found that it can be effective for treating depression. Its cognitive-behavioral, mindfulness, and acceptance-based therapy approach is successful for addressing common symptoms of depression. In this process, patients can practice acceptance and management of emotions to develop efficient coping skills.

Is DBT good for trauma?

Most traumatic experiences show up later in life as unwanted emotions. DBT’s approach can help address trauma with its emotional regulation techniques and mindfulness strategies. This way, it helps people with trauma work towards acceptance and developing coping skills in facing their trauma.

Does DBT therapy really work?

Studies have found that the DBT procedure is successful for individuals of diverse demographics and backgrounds. However, for the best results, the patient themselves must be willing to undergo recovery. Like other therapy methods, the effectiveness of DBT may vary depending on different patients’ circumstances.

What can I expect from DBT therapy?

During DBT, you can expect to undergo the therapy’s main components: group skills training, individual therapy, and phone coaching. It involves learning behavioral skills, applying them in real-life events, and getting adequate support to boost motivation.

How effective is DBT for a borderline personality disorder?

DBT has been developed specifically for treating BPD, targeting three behavior categories of the condition that may hinder recovery. It includes life-threatening behaviors, therapy-interfering behaviors, and quality-of-life-interfering behavior. Hence, it addresses the present challenges and harmful behaviors that the patient is facing and their recovery behaviors.


Marsha Linehan has struggled so much during her teen years. She had to put through different kinds of pain because of the misdiagnosis of her mental health condition. Fortunately, Marsha has figured a way to fix the problem. In return, she has not only helped herself but many other individuals as well. She paved the way to learn more about the illness. But more importantly, Marsha led the way to discover a useful treatment, which is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).

Dr. Linehan’s DBT aims to bring peace to others by reflection onto self. It is a mix of different strategies that include acceptance, emotion regulation, and mindfulness. The goal of DBT is to teach how to savor at the moment, control emotions, build good relationships with others, and develop healthy coping mechanisms. It is initially for those with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). But over the years, studies show that it can help with other mental health conditions too. 

The effectiveness of DBT has been proven through years of research and study. However, this therapy cannot fully succeed without the full cooperation of the patient. The desire to change should start from within. The only way to achieve mindfulness is by acknowledging that there is something that needs to change. 

In the case of Dr. Linehan, after admitting that she loved herself, she started to begin to change. She put it in the conscious effort and focused on finding a way to keep that positive mindset. Lo behold, she did it. And because of that, she developed DBT.

Currently, DBT is an effective treatment for different conditions such as anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression. These are common conditions among refugees, which means that too they can benefit from DBT.

In Focus Discussion: Refugees And Their Overall Mental Health


For years, there are certain stress-related situations refugees endure and asylum seekers like them have gone through intensely stressful situations due to religious or political oppression, resettlement, war, and migration.

It’s not easy to define every kind of event they have experienced, as refugees dealing with PTSD frequently precedes the stressful situations that push them to flee.

But before this happens, refugees and their mental health can suffer; they might go through torture, imprisonment, war-related trauma, physical abuse, rape, unemployment, property loss, or malnutrition. What’s worse is that these refugee populations are often separated from their loved ones during their flight, or they are forced to kill witness torture or withstand very cruel environmental circumstances. Possibly, the most relevant outcome from all the encounters that refugees withstand is being betrayed by either their friends or their enemies.

Indeed, refugees have had significant emotional and occasionally physical recovery encounters that should be meticulously evaluated and treated. Needless to say, the refugee’s mental health is often at stake and must be discussed.

Refugees And Mental Illness

Studies have proven time and again that common mental health diagnoses or mental health conditions are the primary source of disability across the world. It comprises more than 10% of the global problem of disease and accounts for over 30% of the number of years survived with disability. It is projected that individuals who have serious mental disorders like bipolar disorder, severe depression, and schizophrenia have a higher likelihood of dying earlier than those who don’t suffer from them.

The issues concerning poor mental health are widespread, and it impact people around the world. Additionally, there are significant economic outcomes of this widespread occurrence. The cost of mental illness-related evaluations and psychological treatment was estimated to be about $16 trillion from 2011 until 2030.


Mental Health Support for Refugees

The official definition of a refugee or an asylum seeker is someone “who is often afraid of being victimized because of race, nationality, religion, member of a political or social group, is outside his own country and is not able, unwilling to access protection of his country, or does not want to return to it because of fear or apprehension.”

Presently, the obligation of mental health support for refugees and asylum seekers is shared by a group of organizations such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the World Health Organization, and non-profit and government organizations. Most of the refugees are inflicted with post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD because of the various devastating situations they are confronted with that inevitably affect their way of life.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

This mental health disorder is defined as enduring, distracting, and repeated flashbacks or memories of someone who has gone through trauma, including mental health symptoms, detachment symptoms, physical symptoms, sleep disturbance, and amplified startle response. PTSD is thought of as a single major mental disease that might have a clear cause. Responses such as horror, helplessness, and fear can be described as the individual’s integrity becoming vulnerable. Problems in cognitive function, relationships, emotional management, hopelessness, and somatization may happen because of extreme stress due to overwhelming situations and unpleasant experiences.

The presence of traumatic experiences is not uncommon. In fact, over two-thirds of individuals in the general populace can encounter a major traumatic situation at some point in their lives. Several studies on asylum seekers in the western part of the country revealed that almost 10% of refugees had PTSD and are considered internally displaced persons, and about 5% suffered from depression. These pieces of evidence suggest that most of them require counseling. In other studies that delved into the biological impact of PTSD, the findings revealed:

  • Decreasing volumes of the anterior cingulate cortex and hippocampus suggest the development of substance abuse and depression.
  • Increased heart rate in response to unexpected loud tones, suggesting central sensitization.
  • The dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and amygdala are hyperactive, while the ventral medial prefrontal cortex region is hypoactive in PTSD, suggesting attentional bias towards abnormal emotional regulation.
  • Alterations in the brain, particularly brain volume, in PTSD.

The above information revealed that cognitive-behavioral therapy specific to trauma or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing must be considered in people with PTSD. One should also consider psychological evaluation and treatment to decrease PTSD symptoms. Finally, mental health care providers programs should be incorporated into policy planning like psychotherapy, counseling, psychosocial treatment, and pharmacotherapy.

Refugees And Licensed Professionals

Psychiatrists, social support, social workers, medical doctors, and other health professionals must be aware of the important elements that influence refugees’ and asylum seekers’ mental health outcomes.


  • The incidents they are exposed to in their own country or the evacuation camps they have stayed in.
  • The experiences they have on the way to their host country and their new life in the new country they are in.
  • Their health is also impacted by neurological conditions, chronic diseases, cancer, and infectious conditions that could lead to polymorbidity.
  • Infections
  • The consequence of starvation may include paresthesia, epilepsy, and ataxia.
  • Psychological or mental health concerns.
  • Communication, attention, and intercultural difficulties.

Final Thoughts And Take Away To Consider

A clinical trial on mental health needs in a group of asylum seekers in Malaysia revealed that these asylum seekers and refugees stressed their worries about providing opportunities for permanent relocation and concerns about their capacity to survive financially. Service providers must pay attention to their mental well-being. Coping techniques and strategies should be integrated while assessing their basic needs, whether they are staying in temporary locations.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the mental health disorders of refugees in refugee camps?

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Helping A Family Of Refugees Settle In The Community

I live in a close-knit community where everyone practically knows each other from birth. I married my childhood sweetheart, my best friend’s house is only at the end of the road, and my parents stay next door. The other folks in the neighborhood have similar life stories, too.

Then, sometime in 2012, we saw a new car pull up at the only apartment complex in town. At first, we thought that the landlord owned it, but a dignified-looking man I had never seen before came out. Two adults and three kids followed him. Even from afar, it was possible that they were a family from the Middle East. The man led them in the apartment and went out alone after a few minutes.


As curious as I was, I kept myself from barging in the complex and demanding to get to know my new neighbors. But I had the chance to say hello to them when the new family went to the park where my kids typically played one afternoon. That’s how I learned that they were refugees from Iraq and that they fled from the country after the school they worked at got bombed.

I could not fathom the anguish and fear that this family must have experienced. It pushed them to move to a foreign country and leave everything they had behind. The least we could do to help them settle in the community were:

Make Them Feel Welcome

The first thing I did was introduce the family to our neighbors. The town is too small for people not to get acquainted, so it’s better for them to have a formal introduction now instead of later. And once the others have heard the reason why they have become refugees, their expressions transform from mere curiosity to sympathy, too, due to stress-related situations refugees endure.


To make the family feel welcome, we decided to throw a little picnic party at the park. Everyone chipped in and brought homemade dishes and drinks. Although it was a small gesture, our new neighbors were teary-eyed while thanking us, saying no one had ever been too kind. This statement made me want to cry for them, but I held it in because pity was the last thing they needed.

Avoid Asking Too Many Questions

After several conversations, we learned a few things about the Middle Eastern family. For instance, Abdul (the father) served as a high school principal in Iraq, and Alia (the mother) taught pre-school kids. When they fled, they stuffed as many belongings as possible in two suitcases.


However, seeing how sad the adults were whenever they talked about it, we tried not to ask too many questions regarding life back home. I figured that they would open up once they were emotionally ready to do it. At the moment, the family should focus on familiarizing themselves with the community that they might live in permanently.

Offer Mental Help Support If You Can

Since we met the refugees at the park regularly, we noticed that they would get jumpy when a car door closes loudly, or someone honks too much. Adult or not, their reactions were the same. Even if I was not a psychologist, I could quickly tell that the family was most likely suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). From what I gathered, this condition was common among victims of war and violence, which they clearly were.


I talked to my husband (a psychologist) about my observation, and he agreed to offer mental help for free. So, I asked the family to come over at our house so that they could converse in a safe space. The more group counseling sessions they had, the less affected they were by external noises that reminded them of what they ran away from.

Find Out What They Need But Still Don’t Have

Another act of kindness that we did was finding out what other things this family needed but did not know how to get. It would not be acceptable to give them hand-me-down clothes or money, after all. Though they were refugees, they were not homeless people or charity cases. They could even afford the rent at the apartment complex without the help of the government.


When I asked them what else they needed, Alia said, “Abdul and I need to look for teaching jobs. Our savings would suffice for a year or so, but we need a stable income source.” Hence, I brought them to my kids’ schools and introduced them to the principals. After a few meetings, they agreed to hire the couple.

Final Thoughts

It won’t be an exaggeration to say that the Middle Eastern family lived happily ever after. They felt awkward at first, but they managed to get back on their feet. Even the kids were doing well and trying different extracurricular activities. It was as if they had been living in town all their lives. Hopefully, every refugee gets to settle in their chosen communities as smoothly as they did.