Trauma Foundation South West
(formerly BCPC Asylum Project)
Provision of Counselling and Psychotherapy
for asylum seekers and refugees
Trauma Foundation South West: for those who have suffered torture, oppression and war
Barrow Castle, Rush Hill, Bath, BA2 2QR [email protected]
Since our work started nearly 10 years
ago we have seen:
427 men
162 women
This year:
44 men
9 women
Trauma Foundation South West: for those who have suffered torture, oppression and war
Barrow Castle, Rush Hill, Bath, BA2 2QR [email protected]
• 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
Trauma Foundation South West: for those who have suffered torture, oppression and war
Barrow Castle, Rush Hill, Bath, BA2 2QR [email protected]
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
Trauma Foundation South West: for those who have suffered torture, oppression and war
Barrow Castle, Rush Hill, Bath, BA2 2QR [email protected]
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
Trauma Foundation South West: for those who have suffered torture, oppression and war
Barrow Castle, Rush Hill, Bath, BA2 2QR [email protected]
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
Trauma Foundation South West: for those who have suffered torture, oppression and war
Barrow Castle, Rush Hill, Bath, BA2 2QR [email protected]
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
Trauma Foundation South West: for those who have suffered torture, oppression and war
Barrow Castle, Rush Hill, Bath, BA2 2QR [email protected]
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.
Trauma Foundation South West: for those who have suffered torture, oppression and war
Barrow Castle, Rush Hill, Bath, BA2 2QR [email protected]
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
Trauma Foundation South West: for those who have suffered torture, oppression and war
Barrow Castle, Rush Hill, Bath, BA2 2QR [email protected]
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.
Trauma Foundation South West: for those who have suffered torture, oppression and war
Barrow Castle, Rush Hill, Bath, BA2 2QR [email protected]
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
Trauma Foundation South West: for those who have suffered torture, oppression and war
Barrow Castle, Rush Hill, Bath, BA2 2QR [email protected]
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.
Trauma Foundation South West: for those who have suffered torture, oppression and war
Barrow Castle, Rush Hill, Bath, BA2 2QR [email protected]
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Judy Ryde - Trauma Foundation South West