Authors: Alicia Gibbs
Event: 2018 TheMHS Conference
Subject: Refugee Experiences of Trauma Counselling: Clients’ and Counsellors’ Perspectives on the Facilitators and Barriers to Engagement.
Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers
Abstract: Ongoing global conflicts are leading to an ever-increasing number of refugees worldwide. Resettled refugees often experience severe and complex psychological distress, yet utilisation of mental health services by people from refugee backgrounds is relatively low and mental health service providers often face significant challenges maintaining engagement with resettled refugees. This qualitative study explored the facilitators and barriers to refugee clients’ ongoing engagement in trauma counselling in Western Australia through semi-structured interviews and a focus group with refugee counselling clients, counsellors and a client reference group. Thematic analysis of participants’ accounts identified that clients’ perceptions of counselling; the therapeutic relationship between clients, counsellors and interpreters; and clients’ concurrent resettlement challenges and priorities were mediators of ongoing engagement in counselling. Clients’ experiences were varied, multifaceted, and impacted by individual, relational, organisational and structural factors. The aims of this presentation are to highlight the facilitators and barriers to ongoing engagement in counselling identified by clients and counsellors in this study, and to advocate for mental health services to be designed in collaboration with people from refugee backgrounds. Community-based organisations that are responsive and adaptable to changing needs can provide meaningful support to refugee clients experiencing mental distress.
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