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Focusing on the Relational Needs of Immigrant and Refugee Students Lucy L. Purgason, PhD, LSC, ACS, NCC Western Washington University.

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Presentation on theme: "Focusing on the Relational Needs of Immigrant and Refugee Students Lucy L. Purgason, PhD, LSC, ACS, NCC Western Washington University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Focusing on the Relational Needs of Immigrant and Refugee Students Lucy L. Purgason, PhD, LSC, ACS, NCC Western Washington University

2 My Background

3 Today’s Objectives Describe the stressors that newcomer immigrant and refugee students experience Explain ways that friendships help newcomer students cope with acculturation stressors Identify school counseling interventions to support relationship development –Face-to-Face and Online Brainstorm potential resources and partnerships within your settings

4 In the News Goren, A. (2014, July 24). Washington prepares for 600 unaccompanied minors from Central America. The Seattle Globalist (Photo courtesy Deb Frockt / Jewish Family Service)

5 Immigrant and Refugee Students in Washington Historically ranked as one of the top 10 resettlement states (Office of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance, 2015)(Office of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance, 2015) Frequently spoken languages (OSPI Migrant and Bilingual Education, 2010) (OSPI Migrant and Bilingual Education, 2010) Spanish (61, 558)Korean (1,603) Russian (4,150)Tagalog (1,237) Vietnamese (3,592)Arabic (971) Somali (2,260)Punjabi (902) Ukranian (2,197)Cambodian (788) Chinese (1,773)Marshallese (607) Washington state has about 2,200 refugee arrivals a year ( (

6 Newcomer Student Stressors Adolescence is a difficult time period to transition (Garcia-Coll & Magnusson, 1997; Phinney et al., 1990, Suarez- Orozco et al., 2008) At risk for social isolation (Chuang, 2010; Singer & Chandra- Shekeran, 2006) Important implications for identity development and school adjustment (Bash & Zezlina-Phillips, 2006; Liebkind et al., 2004; Suarez-Orozco, Qin, & Amthor, 2008)

7 Academic Needs of Newcomer Students (Purgason, 2015) English proficiency Course credits and transfer equivalencies Transitional stress to school environment May be older than same-grade peers

8 Personal/Social Needs of Newcomer Students (Suárez, et al., 2010; Villalba, 2009) Separated from peer and family support networks Discrimination and prejudice Loneliness, depression, anxiety Adjusting to different cultures Post-traumatic symptoms from previous trauma

9 PHASES OF ADJUSTMENT (National Alliance for Multicultural Mental Health, 1996)

10 PHASES OF ADJUSTMENT (National Alliance for Multicultural Mental Health, 1996)

11 How might knowing about the phases of adjustment influence your work with newcomer students?

12 Strengths of Newcomer Students Resilience Collective resource sharing Tight-knit communities and social networks (Liebkindm, Jasinkaja-Lahti, & Solheim, 2004) What are some other strengths that newcomer students may possess? How would you incorporate knowledge of these strengths within your school counseling program?

13 The Importance of Social Support and Peer Networks Researchers have shown that one of the largest determinants of success for immigrant and refugee students is the establishment of social networks Found schoolwork more interesting and engaging (Suarez- Orozco et al., 2008)

14 School-based Relational Development: Peer Interventions (Purgason, 2015) New student orientations –Pairing students with a peer mentor –Collaborations with ESL teachers Group counseling –Sharing pre-and-post arrival experiences –Normalize the transition experience –Include stress management strategies and social skills development Individual Counseling –Narrative and creative arts interventions

15 School-based Relational Development: Creating a Multicultural Club (Purgason, 2015) Partner with ethnic student clubs at surrounding colleges or universities First-generation college students could serve as mentors Ideas for starting a multicultural club are available at

16 School-based Relational Development: Targeting Parents and Families Importance of overlapping spheres of influence (Epstein & Van Voorhis, 2010) Positive associations with student grades, participation in AP courses, lower dropout rates, and motivation toward school work (Gonzalez et al., 2013) A resource toolkit to help newcomer parents navigate schools is available at: SIG%20Parent%20Toolkit.pdf SIG%20Parent%20Toolkit.pdf

17 Creating School-Family Partnerships: Recommendations for School Counselors (Gonzalez et al., 2013) Invitations from the school to the family Flexible formats for involvement that respect families with limited time Parent advisory council Use of cultural brokers Creating community-school family nights

18 On-line Relationship Building (Purgason, 2015) Newcomer students may be turning to social media to connect with friends and family living in their home country Use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media sites Report using Facebook groups for help with schoolwork Create pages that connect to ethnic and cultural identities Clip art credit: ASCA Magazine

19 Social Networking Considerations Does not replace face-to-face friendships May be using upwards of 4-5 hours a day Can experience bullying and harassment online A toolkit for how to address bullying of newcomer students is available at

20 Family and Community Based Working Alliances Partnerships with: –Local Universities Office of Service Learning and Leadership Counseling Program Office of Multicultural Affairs –Local Community Colleges ESL classes –Non-profit agencies Job Training Information Legal Assistance –Resettlement Agencies –Cultural brokers What partnerships could you establish within your communities?

21 Thank You! Please email me at with any questions “The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” ~ Maya Angelou For additional resources and more information on working with immigrant and refugee students please see the latest issue of the ASCA School Counselor Magazine.

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