Peer Support Groups: Evaluating a Culturally Grounded, Strengths-Based Approach for Work with Refugees

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Many refugees will face unique socio-emotional stressors before, during, and after resettling in their new home country. The program presented herein focuses on the use of para-professionals and peer educators, from within refugee communities to build upon the Center for Torture and Trauma Survivors Clubhouse model. Group leaders seek to provide supports that will: 1) decrease feelings of isolation; 2) build community networks and; 3) increase feelings of empowerment within the community. To accurately represent the fluidity of the refugee population in this metropolitan region, background is presented on an established refugee population from Iraq and a more recent influx of refugees of Bhutan (ethnic Nepali). The juxtaposition of the two groups underscores the importance of presenting a dynamic program that is peer-led to provide the supports necessary to acclimate to their new environment. Program evaluation results from groups run in 2016-2017 indicate that the groups have been successful in helping participants make friends, get information, become more independent, and feel better about life in America. Finally, the utility of other therapeutic and support processes, such as horticultural and expressive arts therapies, are discussed apropos work with refugee populations.

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Block, A. M., Aizenman, L., Saad, A., Harrison, S., Sloan, A., Vecchio, S., & Wilson, V. (2018). Peer support groups: Evaluating a culturally grounded, strengths-based approach for work with refugees.  Advances in Social Work,  18(3), 930-948.

About This Study:

Outcome(s): General Distress Reduction
Intervention(s): Mental health and psychosocial support services, Peer Support Groups
Intervention Duration: 8 weeks
Relevant ORR Program: Ethnic Community Self-Help Program, Preferred Communities, Refugee Health Promotion, Refugee Support Services
Study Type: Suggestive evidence
Full Text Availability: Free
Direction of Evidence: Positive impact
Strength of Evidence: Suggestive
Population(s): Refugees
Gender(s) of Participants: All
Age(s) of Participants: Adults
Region(s) of Origin of Participants: Africa, Asia - South, Middle East

Relevant Evidence Summaries:

The evidence was reviewed and included in the following summaries: