Psychosocial Intervention for Refugees/Forced Migrants

Executive summary

Psychosocial intervention with refugee and forced migrant people is a particular perspective of multidisciplinary intervention. An alternative approach which trains some key professionals competencies that can significantly condition the processes of the people cared.

Forced migrations, as a term that encompasses migrants and refugees, should be more than a set of numbers and data to be registered or "flows" to be controlled. More, even, than an amount of people who must be "placed" or rehoused. This perspective focuses on the fact that the "numbers" are not more than infinity of people with name, surnames, history, rights, dignity, possibilities, horizons and goals.

From this starting point, the integral well-being of the migrant person (bio-psychosocially understood), the dignifying of their living conditions and the equality of their rights and opportunities are the main goals of the intervention. This implies adopting a perspective of empowerment that puts the emphasis on the prevention of difficulties and the promotion of people's capacities instead of assistance attention, facilitating the itineraries of progressive autonomy so that they can be agents of their own life. It involves that the intervention should be designed on the basis of their strengths and not of their weaknesses; of their capabilities and not of their shortcomings.

Acculturation and identity reconstruction takes place throughout the migration process. A critical readjustment that involves going through experiences of multiple bereavements and uprooting. As a consequence, processes of acculturative stress will also take place. In more extreme cases where the stressors are intense, chronic and caused by multiple factors people can suffer risks for the mental health. However, far from considering forced migrants as vulnerable groups, from the psychosocial intervention we understand as systems which create vulnerability and people made vulnerable (or “vulnerabled” people).

The processes of integration of forced migrants, therefore, must be based on a policy of belongingness and participation instead of assistance policies that promote dependence and make more difficult the access to their rights and opportunities.

The accompaniment methodology is one of the successful strategies social work with forced migrant population and coherent with this approach. Far from creating institutional dependence, they promote processes of transition to personal autonomy and social participation.

Finally, some relevant professional competencies and attitudes that ensure a quality intervention are introduced. Among them, the need to grow in resilience and cultural competence are highlighted.

1.    The psychosocial focus at work with refugees and forced migrants

1.1. A perspective on intervention in contemporary migrations
1.2. The forced nature of migration in our setting: "vulnerabilisation" versus vulnerability

2.    Some consequences of forced migration processes and acculturation

2.1. Acculturation and reconstruction of identities
2.2. Processes of acculturative stress
2.3. Multiple bereavements, disarray, and living standards
2.4. Risks of the migratory experience on mental health
2.5. Updating the life project

3.    Integration of refugees and forced migrants in the hosting societies

3.1. Integration from an ecological perspective
3.2. From the application of resources to the development of membership policies

4.    Determining factors in psychosocial intervention

4.1.    The methodology of accompaniment as an axis in work with migrants and refugees
4.2.    Professional attitudes that enable quality intervention

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