A group treatment approach aiming at helping asylum seeking refugee survivors of war and torture with impacts of psychological trauma and resettlement stress has been de-signed and applied throughout 12 years. This treatment is phase-based and trauma-focused, it combines group psychotherapy with non-verbal therapies (psychomotor therapy, art therapy, and music therapy). It is executed within a day treatment setting and lasts for one year. The approach does not exclusively focus on treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but includes interventions targeting damaged core-beliefs, guilt, shame, grief, legal issues due to procedure of seeking asylum, and other resettlement stressors.
A controlled cohort study and a seven-year follow-up study have been executed with 69 Iranian and Afghan asylum seekers and refugees with PTSD and co-morbid psychopathology. The aim of the studies was to evaluate effectiveness of this group psychotherapy approach on the short and on longer terms, and to examine whether legal status and other resettlement stressors influence outcomes of the approach.
The outcome studies suggest that this group treatment approach improves mental health of asylum seekers and refugees with PTSD, both on the short and on longer terms. The PTSD, anxiety, and depression symptoms are reduced upon completion of the treatment. The trend of reduction of the examined psychopathology continues up to five years after the treatment. Over an even longer period of time, up to seven years, the treatment gains are maintained but reduced in strength. Both asylum seekers and refugees can benefit from the applied group treatment, irrespective of the absence of stable living arrangements. However, positive changes in the resettlement context lead to more favorable treatment outcomes.
Funding & No Conflicts Declaration
This study was not supported by any funding, and I declare that there was no conflict of interests involved.