Managing Trauma: Tips for Supporting Refugee Teens in Schools, Refugee Resettlement, & Other Contexts

Managing Trauma: Tips for Supporting Refugee Teens in Schools, Refugee Resettlement, & Other Contexts

Reflect on your work and relationships with refugee teens. Hugo Kamya, PhD, Professor and Fulbright Specialist Roster Scholar at the Simmons College School of Social and Lisa Fontes, PhD, Senior Lecturer at the University of Massachusetts will discuss some of the dilemmas facing refugee teenagers, how to converse helpfully and meaningfully with refugee teens, as well as ways to intervene more effectively with refugee teens, their families, and schools. This webinar builds off of BRYCS previous webinar on Understanding Trauma in Refugee Youth.

  • PowerPoint Presentation
  • Additional resources:
    • Blanco-Vega, C.O., Castro-Olivio, S.M., & Merrel, K.W., (2008). Sociocultural model for development and implementation of culturally specific interventions. Journal of Latinos and Education, 7(1),43-61.
    • Boyson, B… & Short, D. (2012). Helping newcomer students achieve success in secondary schools and beyond. Washington, D.C.: Center for Applied Linguistics.
    • BRYCS. (2017). Collective Voices for Improving the Care & Reducing the Risk of Female Genital Cutting (FGC). https://www.brycs.org/clearinghouse/highlighted-resources-on-female-genital-cutting.cfm
    • BRYCS. (2010). Child Abuse Issues with Refugee Populations (PART I)- Recognizing Suspected Child Maltreatment in Culturally Diverse Refugee Families https://www.brycs.org/clearinghouse/clearinghouse-resource.cfm?docnum=2475
    • BRYCS. (2010). Child Abuse Issues with Refugee Populations (PART II)- Refugee Resettlement and Child Welfare: Working Together for Child Protectionhttps://www.brycs.org/clearinghouse/clearinghouse-resource.cfm?docnum=2479
    • Chapman, C., Laird, J., Hill, N., & Ramani, A.K. (2011). Trends in High School Dropout ad Completion Rates in the United States: 1979-2009.  Washington, DC: US Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics.
    • Fontes, L.A. (2005). Child Abuse and Culture: Working with Diverse Families. New York, NY: Guilford.
    • Fontes, L.A. (2008). Interviewing Clients Across Cultures. New York, NY: Guilford Press.
    • Fontes, L.A. (2008). Interviewing Clients across Cultures: A Practitioner’s Guide. New York, NY: Guilford.
    • Fontes, L.A. (2010). Interviewing immigrant children for suspected child maltreatment. Journal of Psychiatry and the Law, 38, 283-305. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/265678701_Interviewing_Immigrant_Children_for_Suspected_Child_Maltreatment
    • Fontes, L.A. (2015). Invisible Chains: Overcoming Coercive Control in Your Intimate Relationship. New York, NY: Guilford.
    • Fontes, L.A. (2017). Building Resilience After Trauma: Lessons from Chile. New York, NY: Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/invisible-chains/201511/building-resilience-after-trauma-lessons-chile
    • Fontes, L.A. (2017). Helping Refugee Children Cope. New York, NY: Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/invisible-chains/201706/helping-refugee-children-cope
    • Fontes, L.A. (2017). Keeping Refugee Children and Teens Safe. New York, NY: Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/invisible-chains/201708/keeping-refugee-children-and-teens-safe
    • Fontes, L.A. (2017). Translating Trauma: Foreign Language Interpreting in Therapy. New York, NY: Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/invisible-chains/201703/translating-trauma-foreign-language-interpreting-in-therapy
    • Jensen, L. (2005). The demographic diversity of immigrants and their children. In R.G. Rumbaut & A. Portes (Eds.) Ethnicities: Children of immigrants in America ((pp. 21-56). Berkley, CA: University of California Press.
    • Kamya, H. (2008). Healing from Refugee Trauma: The Significance of Spiritual Beliefs, Faith Community, and Faith-based Services. In  Froma Walsh (Ed.). Spiritual resources in family therapy (286-300).  2rd edition.  New York: Guilford Press.
    • Kamya, H. (2009). The impact of war on children: How children make meaning from war     experiences. Journal of Immigrant and refugee Studies, 7, 2, 211-216
    • Kamya, H. (2011). The impact of war on children:  The psychology of displacement and exile.  In Kelle, B. (Ed.). Interpreting Exile: Interdisciplinary studies of displacement and deportation in Biblical and modern contexts. (pp.235-249). Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature Press.
    • Kamya, H.  & Mirkin, M.(2008). Working with immigrant and refugee families. In Monica   McGoldrick and Kenneth Hardy (Eds.). Revisioning Family Therapy: Race, culture and gender in clinical practice. 2nd edition. (pp. 311-326). New York: Guilford Press.(a  revised chapter is coming out 2018 in 3rd edition)
    • Kamya, H. & White, E. (2011).  Expanding cross-cultural understanding of suicide among immigrants: The case of the Somali.  Families in Society, 92(4), 419-425
    • Kamya, H. (2012). The cultural universality of narrative techniques  in the creation of meaning.  In B. MacKin, Newman, E., Fogler, J., & Keane, T. (Eds.) Trauma therapy in context:  The science and craft of evidence based practice. (pp.231-246). Washington, D.C: American Psychological Association.
    • McBrien, J.L. (2005). Educational needs and barriers for refugee students in the United States: A review of the literature.  Review of Educational Research, 75(3), 329-364.
    • Muslim Youth Girls Association. (2010). Top 5: Gym Class Hijabi Tips. http://muslimyouthgirlsassociation.blogspot.com/2010/05/top-5gym-class-hijabi-tips.html
    • National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN). Types of Trauma. http://www.nctsn.org/trauma-types
    • Mendenhall, M., Bartlett, L., & Ghaffar-Kucher, A. (2017). ‘If you need help, they are always there for us.”: Education for refugees in an International High School in NYC.  Urban Review, 49, 1-25.
    • Paat, Y. (2013). Working with immigrant children and their families: An application of Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 23, 954-966.
    • Paat, Y. (2013). Understanding the role of immigrant families’ cultural and structural mechanisms in immigrant children’s experiences beyond high school: Lessons for social work practitioners. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 23, 514-528.
    • Presidential Task Force on Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Trauma in Children and Adolescents. (2008). Children and Trauma: Update for Mental Health Professionals. Washington, D.C: American Psychological Association. http://www.apa.org/pi/families/resources/children-trauma-update.aspx
    • Schneider, S. & Kamya, H. (in press). Community-Based Services for Refugees and Immigrants: Utilizing Social Capital, Human Capital and Cultural Capital to Improve Family Functioning and Well-Being Among the Somali, Families in Society.
    • Tseng, V. (2006). Unpacking immigration in youths’ academic and occupational pathways. Child Development, 77(5), 1434-1445.
    • Watkinson, J.S. & Hersi, A.A. (2013). School counselors supporting African immigrant students’ career development: A case study. The Career Development Quarterly, 62, 44-55.
    • Yohani, S. (2010) Nurturing hope in refugee children during early years of post-war adjustment. Children and Youth Services Review, 32, 865-873.

25 Comments

  1. BRYCS December 4, 2017 at 12:53 pm - Reply

    Remember for some refugee teens, birthday's are "iffy". They are often both "old" and "young" for their age, and what we consider teen years, varies in other cultures. Have you experienced challenges with determining a teen's age?

  2. Anonymous December 4, 2017 at 12:54 pm - Reply

    Ya it is, currently I am working with one of my client whose age is reduced by 10 years…

  3. Anonymous December 4, 2017 at 12:55 pm - Reply

    When I held the group after school at a high school, the girls were very conscious of time because they needed to go home to cook for their siblings and get them ready for bedtime.

  4. Anonymous December 4, 2017 at 12:56 pm - Reply

    I know many teens who, as new arrivals, are placed in a Public High School and almost immediately bullied. Wouldn't it be helpful if new arrivals were "assigned" to a student friend who can accompany them from class-to-class (obviously cannot be in same classes, since most do spend a good part of the day in ESL classes)? How can we push for more programs like this?

  5. Anonymous December 4, 2017 at 12:57 pm - Reply

    What are some recommendations for how to ask a student who is "misbehaving" what is going on when there are language barriers?

  6. Anonymous December 4, 2017 at 12:58 pm - Reply

    Look for a qualified interpreter.

  7. Anonymous December 4, 2017 at 12:58 pm - Reply

    We need to look at the problems in context. Many students were referred to me for "anger management." However, we found out that the students felt disrespected by teachers because "teachers treated them like kids" but they have been carrying financial responsibilities in their families since they were 8, 10 so they are expected to be treated as a grown man.

  8. Anonymous December 4, 2017 at 1:00 pm - Reply

    Such a good example. In Central America many of our low income kids have been responsible for selling produce in the markets after school or during the weekends since they are 6 or 7.

  9. Anonymous December 4, 2017 at 1:00 pm - Reply

    THE IMMIGRANT YOUTH OR CHILDREN MOSTLY DO NOT PARTICIPATE IN MANY SCHOOL EVENTS, IS THERE ANY SPECIFIC REASON FOR THIS?

  10. BRYCS December 4, 2017 at 1:01 pm - Reply

    BRYCS has highlighted a number of programs for newcomer youth that you may find interesting if developing your own: https://www.brycs.org/promisingPractices/index.cfm if you know of one you'd like to share, there's a submission form as well!

  11. Anonymous December 4, 2017 at 1:02 pm - Reply

    To my understanding there is no specific reason the youth immigrant don't participate in events, however they need time to adjust and becoming comfortable in joining events.

  12. Anonymous December 4, 2017 at 1:02 pm - Reply

    There are a number of reasons we have seen why refugee youth do not participate — lack of communication or understanding, transportation difficulties, many teens are also responsible for caring for younger siblings and the household, and are not as free to take part in extracurricular events outside of school obligations.

  13. Anonymous December 4, 2017 at 1:03 pm - Reply

    Also, parents may not understand the purpose of the event and with everything so new, would rather have their child home safe where they can watch them.

  14. Anonymous December 4, 2017 at 1:04 pm - Reply

    I am a mental health therapist in a school setting. Have you done new-arrival transition groups? Or trauma-focused groups? If so, do you have any suggestions/recommendations?

  15. Anonymous December 4, 2017 at 1:06 pm - Reply

    I would be curious as to what literature regarding trauma informed narrative therapy with refugees would be recommended.

  16. Anonymous December 4, 2017 at 1:06 pm - Reply

    Kamya, H. (2008). Healing from Refugee Trauma: The Significance of Spiritual Beliefs, Faith Community, and Faith-based Services. In  Froma Walsh (Ed.). Spiritual resources in family therapy (286-300). 2rd edition.  New York: Guilford Press. 

  17. Anonymous December 4, 2017 at 1:08 pm - Reply

    We use photography class as therapeutic tool and as an outlet for emotional expression.

  18. Anonymous December 4, 2017 at 1:09 pm - Reply

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  19. Anonymous December 4, 2017 at 1:09 pm - Reply

    I am currently running a Tree of Life and a Team of Life group.

  20. Anonymous December 4, 2017 at 1:10 pm - Reply

    Trauma Informed Care training as well as introducing culture and acculturation to teachers and school/district staff is crucial!

  21. Anonymous January 11, 2018 at 3:48 pm - Reply

    I would like to know how to educate our school partners when our clients go to many schools spread over 4 districts. Therefore, you may have just 2 refugees per school.

  22. Anonymous January 11, 2018 at 3:52 pm - Reply

    Can you offer more specific examples of "This is what happened, this is what was done, this worked/didn't work" — and I also appreciate specific-to-country/situation examples, not so broad and general…

  23. Anonymous January 11, 2018 at 3:56 pm - Reply

    Important topic! Especially for those kids who ARRIVE here as teens; the kids who arrive here as toddlers or young elementary students usually become pretty well-adapted teens, but often still have issues. The ones who arrive AS teens really struggle because of their age and all the complications of adolescence on top of their other troubling background histories.

  24. Lisa Aronson Fontes January 17, 2018 at 3:10 pm - Reply

    I did a training on the needs of immigrant and refugee children at an elementary school that had children who spoke more than 40 languages but ONLY the ESL teachers were tuned into their issues. And no one wanted to listen to the ESL teachers. I was a mandatory training of 60 minutes after school one day. i think it was helpful. But of course one hour training is only a start. My main goal was to sensitize teachers about classroom issues.

  25. Lisa Aronson Fontes January 17, 2018 at 3:10 pm - Reply

    Some school districts have a strategy of dispersing refugees and immigrants around their various schools. If the percentage or number of kids from a particular language is below a certain number, then they are not required by law to provide the same level of services. This is NOT advantageous for the students, obviously. At one point colleagues and I did a session for school personnel and interested community members from throughout the city of Springfield ma. It was held at the training facility of the school district but I believe it was optional. We had pretty good attendance from teachers, administrators, and community members. BRYCS also has wonderful resources that can be distributed to schools–both handouts and links to webinars.

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