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Trauma Foundation South West: for those who have suffered torture, oppression and war Barrow Castle, Rush Hill, Bath, BA2 2QR

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Presentation on theme: "Trauma Foundation South West: for those who have suffered torture, oppression and war Barrow Castle, Rush Hill, Bath, BA2 2QR"— Presentation transcript:

1 Trauma Foundation South West: for those who have suffered torture, oppression and war Barrow Castle, Rush Hill, Bath, BA2 2QR Trauma Foundation South West (formerly BCPC Asylum Project) Provision of Counselling and Psychotherapy for asylum seekers and refugees

2 Trauma Foundation South West: for those who have suffered torture, oppression and war Barrow Castle, Rush Hill, Bath, BA2 2QR Since our work started nearly 10 years ago we have seen:  427 men  162 women This year:  44 men  9 women

3 Trauma Foundation South West: for those who have suffered torture, oppression and war Barrow Castle, Rush Hill, Bath, BA2 2QR Some or all of these factors may be involved in the imbalance between the sexes:  More men come as asylum seekers to Britain  Women are often referred to Womankind  We suspect that women are less likely to seek help  Women’s previous role as wife and mother is often (though tragically not always) still present which can mean that they have a greater sense of purpose

4 Trauma Foundation South West: for those who have suffered torture, oppression and war Barrow Castle, Rush Hill, Bath, BA2 2QR Experiences typically include Terrible losses including that of family, community, life style and culture Extreme and multiple trauma in their own country and during a journey here Witnessing traumatic events including the violent death of loved ones Retraumatisation in the process of claiming asylum Issues with settling into this country Cultural issues including children becoming westernised Fears of being arrested, detained and deported

5 Trauma Foundation South West: for those who have suffered torture, oppression and war Barrow Castle, Rush Hill, Bath, BA2 2QR In our clients these issues have often resulted in: Post traumatic stress disorder Clinical depression Anxiety states Psychosomatic disorders Sometimes psychotic states There may be a mixed picture including some or all of these at different times

6 Trauma Foundation South West: for those who have suffered torture, oppression and war Barrow Castle, Rush Hill, Bath, BA2 2QR We are aware that, when working with our refugee and asylum seeking clients, we need to: Take into account our privileged status as white, western people. Be alive to difference in culture leading to misunderstandings Be able to remain thoughtful but emotionally present when distressing stories are told Know when to refer on to others including doctors, psychiatrists, social workers, lawyers etc

7 Trauma Foundation South West: for those who have suffered torture, oppression and war Barrow Castle, Rush Hill, Bath, BA2 2QR Our approach to work with clients Our work with the clients is based on the relationship we form with them Through this we hope to that they are able to bring painful experiences which we can help them integrate rather than split off and deny their experiences and feelings. We never insist on traumatic experiences being talked about until the client is ready to do so. We see our ability to provide an empathetic and holding presence to be key to our contribution to the healthy emotional survival of the client

8 Trauma Foundation South West: for those who have suffered torture, oppression and war Barrow Castle, Rush Hill, Bath, BA2 2QR Issues for asylum seekers While they are asylum seekers clients tend to be focussed on: their asylum claim and their needs for help with this Feelings (often fear and anger) about the experience of living in this country Trying to solve practical problems such as housing and having sufficient money to cover living costs.

9 Trauma Foundation South West: for those who have suffered torture, oppression and war Barrow Castle, Rush Hill, Bath, BA2 2QR Issues for refugees Sometimes refugees gain energy from a successful asylum claim They can focus gladly on forging a new life for themselves. More often they: Become very distressed – even clinically depressed - as the irrevocable nature of their many losses comes home to them The practical difficulties of staying alive at the bottom of the social hierarchy bites home

10 Trauma Foundation South West: for those who have suffered torture, oppression and war Barrow Castle, Rush Hill, Bath, BA2 2QR Our main job is not to provide practical help but sometimes we need to extend our usual role by helping clients with letters from officials and writing reports to doctors, lawyers, tribunals, housing officers, job centres etc This is particularly true where the mental health of the client is relevant to understanding the help they need. Often clients are not able to explain their situation in the way that British clients could to officials We also need to be aware that we can see clients as more vulnerable and helpless than they are.

11 Trauma Foundation South West: for those who have suffered torture, oppression and war Barrow Castle, Rush Hill, Bath, BA2 2QR About half our clients need interpretation Because of the relational nature of our work we do not see interpreters as akin to interpreting machines but always: Acknowledge their presence as another human being who has significance. Acknowledge that the stories that clients bring are often distressing to interpreters, many of whom have had similar experiences. Give time to the interpreter to express their distress after the session if necessary Understand that some clients can mistrust interpreters, particularly if they may suspect they are on the other side of a conflict back home. Sometimes we ask the interpreter to help us understand cultural differences

12 Trauma Foundation South West: for those who have suffered torture, oppression and war Barrow Castle, Rush Hill, Bath, BA2 2QR It is hard in a short talk to put over the flavour of the kind of work we do with our clients We have a small booklet of stories written by our therapists as if to their clients we give out to those who are interested.


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