Mental Health Practice With Immigrant and Refugee Youth A Socioecological Framework

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Format: Paperback
Pub. Date: 2019-11-12
Publisher(s): American Psychological Association
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Nearly 70 million people today are refugees or forcibly-displaced migrants.  More than half of them are children suffering from the effects of dislocation and violence.

This book provides a framework to guide mental health providers who work with refugees and immigrants. The authors describe the unique needs and challenges of serving these populations, and offer concrete steps for providing evidence-based, culturally-responsive care.  Using the socioecological model, the authors conceptualize the developing child as living within concentric circles that include family, school, neighborhood, and society, embedded within a cultural context.  Mental health providers identify and provide targeted support to combat disruptions within any or all of these ecological layers.

Chapters examine the complex ways in which culture impacts the refugee experience, barriers to engagement in mental health practice and strategies for overcoming them, assessment, collaborative and integrated mental health interventions, and efforts to increase resilience in children, families, and communities.  The book is an essential guide for mental health providers, and all who seek to help children in need.

Author Biography

B. Heidi Ellis, PhD, is director of the Refugee Trauma and Resilience Center at Boston Children’s Hospital, and an associate professor of psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

Her research focuses on understanding trauma exposure, violence, and how the social context impacts developmental trajectories.

For more than a decade she has built a community-based participatory research (CBPR) program with Somali refugees.  Through this program she has investigated the role of discrimination in refugee youth mental health, and developed and evaluated a school-based mental health intervention for Somali refugee youth.

Dr. Ellis is also the codeveloper of trauma systems therapy, a treatment model for traumatized children.

Visit the Boston Children's Hospital website (

Saida M. Abdi, PhD, is an assistant professor in the School of Social Work in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota .

She is a clinical social worker, and an expert in refugee trauma and resilience. She earned her PhD from Boston University. She is a native of Somalia and a former refugee herself. Dr. Abdi has worked for more than 20 years in the area of refugee youth and families, developing school-based programs to support adjustment of refugee youth in resettlement and community-based research and intervention.

Jeffrey P. Winer, PhD, is an attending psychologist at the Refugee Trauma and Resilience Center at Boston Children's Hospital and is an instructor of psychology at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Winer’s work is primarily focused on developing, testing, and disseminating culturally-responsive psychological interventions for youth and families of refugee and immigrant backgrounds.Dr. Winer received his BA from Grinnell College and his MS and PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He completed his clinical internship at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School and his fellowship at Boston Children's Hospital/Harvard Medical School. He also maintains a private practice.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction to Refugees and Immigrants: Newcomers to the United States
Chapter 2. Working Cross Culturally
Chapter 3. Engaging Refugee and Immigrant Families in Mental Health Services
Chapter 4. Assessment with Refugee and Immigrant Youth and Families
Chapter 5. Outpatient Treatment Approaches with Refugee Children and Families
Chapter 6. Collaborative and Interdisciplinary Models of Care
Chapter 7: Refugees in Our Communities: Promoting Whole Community Resilience

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