Global Mental Health and Psychotherapy: 16 - Psychotherapy for refugees and other populations exposed to conflict

Elsevier, Global Mental Health and Psychotherapy Adapting Psychotherapy for Low- and Middle-Income Countries, Global Mental Health in Practice, 2019, Pages 341-362
Derrick Silove, Alvin Tay, and Susan Rees

The refugee mental health field has made major advances in recent decades, a development being the formulation and testing of brief psychotherapies for survivors of torture and other forms of trauma. These interventions were specifically designed to be implemented in low-resource environments by lay counselors drawn from the respective refugee communities. Concerns persist, however, that brief psychotherapies may not be sufficiently culturally grounded or address the complexities of the experiences and psychological responses of all refugees, especially those with chronic or complex traumatic stress disorders. In considering these questions, we draw on some of the key issues that continue to confront the modern refugee and postconflict mental health field. For ease of expression, we use the term “refugee” in a generic manner to include the range of populations displaced by persecution, war, and other forms of mass violence. When relevant, we extend our overview to the larger populations exposed to mass conflict but who are not displaced. We focus on issues of general importance to the field, encouraging the reader to refer to the specialized literature focusing on interventions for vulnerable subpopulations such as women, child soldiers, and torture survivors.