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The work of psychologists in the care of refugees

The work of psychologists in the care of refugees

June 20, 2024

Every day a large number of people decide to leave their country. Various reasons such as wars, political persecutions, terrorism , violation of human rights, etc. they do not provide them with a better choice, so they end up becoming refugees. Many of them travel to Europe in search of security and protection.

Many of the people in asylum have experienced traumatic experiences and unfortunately also physical problems. They urgently need professional help, and that is why in several reception and orientation centers for refugees, the figure of the Psychologist plays a very important role .

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The importance of psychologists in the care of refugees

The psychologist works together with workers and social educators, doctors, teachers and especially interpreters. Efforts are made to provide refugees with basic needs and help control high levels of psychological distress.

Newcomers struggle every day to overcome the memory of their traumatic journey and try to adjust to a new life far from their homeland.

Many refugees have had traumatic experiences

Many of the people who arrive every day in search of asylum, have experienced traumatic experiences in their countries of origin and during the trip to your destination in Europe.

They have encountered situations of violence in the first person or have experienced it in a very close way: visualization of lifeless bodies, torture, detention, surviving explosions or bullets, destruction of their homes and possessions, disappearance of their loved ones ... all this forces you to live in a constant state of fear.

Nightmares, flaschbacks, sleep disorders and concentration ...

Experienced traumatic experiences can develop a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with which they experience recurring memories , especially during the night or sudden images during the day (Flashbacks). Traumatic memories are revived with great intensity.

For example, a man who saw a plane flying over him experienced a panic attack as he remembered how they bombed his city; or a woman when listening to fireworks at local parties.

Sleep and concentration disorders, emotional numbness, anxiety and depression often accompany them. Nor should we forget the presence of suicidal thoughts , which can trigger acts of self-harm or, directly, suicide itself.

Other possible mental disorders

PTSD is not the only disorder that can occur in these cases. Other psychological complications that may appear or accentuate due to the traumatic process are the adjustment disorder, persistence of changes in personality after the traumatic experience, dissociative disorders, borderline personality disorder ...

They can also appear problems of addictions, depression, chronic pain and anxiety , among others.

We must bear in mind that the traumatic experience is not only a result of the experiences lived in their country of origin, but also of the trip made to reach a final destination where they can be safe . Many times the conditions of transportation, food, clothing, etc. They are not adequate.


The new environment in which refugees are located requires them to adapt quickly in different areas. The social, cultural and lifestyle environment changes radically and this fact requires a new adaptation, which raises in most cases, uncertainty and insecurity (how to react to differences in customs and habits or traditions, learning a new language and / or writing), concern and different losses or duels (people, places and ways of life).

To all this we must add the forced separation or loss of relatives. There are many of them who have left their family behind , or during the way of arrival, without knowing where they are and if they are still alive. That constant uncertainty causes them to torment with recurring thoughts such as: "Was it my fault? OR Where is my child? Will he still be alive? " Infinite questions that seek to find a meaning to everything that is happening around them, to be able to assimilate everything that happened and to be able to continue with a more tranquil life.

The key is in the integration

Many times the return to the country of origin is not a viable alternative, in which case they can be allowed remain indefinitely in the country where they have found safety conditions .

A key point is to promote social, cultural, political and economic integration through the promotion of intercultural and interconfessional dialogue , tolerance and respect towards other cultures. Giving the opportunity to discover, understand and learn the values ​​and cultures of the refugees and at the same time rediscover and enrich their own.

Immaculate Espert Gregori, Psychologist.

PTSD and Refugees / Asylum Seekers | Trauma and Mental Health Workshop Highlights (June 2024).

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