Working With Refugees in the U.S.: Trauma-Informed and Structurally Competent Social Work Approaches
Keywords:Refugees, trauma, ecological perspective, structural competence
Social workers, government, and non-governmental organizations in the United States have been inadequately prepared to address the impact of trauma faced by refugees fleeing persecution. Compounding their initial trauma experiences, refugees often undergo further traumatic migration experiences and challenges after resettlement that can have long-lasting effects on their health and mental health. Micro and macro social work practitioners must understand the impact of these experiences in order to promote policies, social work training, and clinical practice that further the health and well-being of refugees and society. Social workers are in a unique position to provide multi-dimensional, structurally competent care and advocacy for diverse refugee populations. The experiences of Cambodian refugees will be used to examine these issues. We will explore the benefits of an ecological perspective in guiding interventions that support refugees, and will apply the framework of structural competence to highlight multidimensional implications for social work with refugee populations.
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