Refugees, trauma and Adversity-Activated Development

The nature of the refugee phenomenon is examined and the position of mental health professionals is located in relation to it. The various uses of the word ‘trauma’ are explored and its application to the refugee context is examined. It is proposed that refugees’ response to adversity is not limited to being traumatized but includes resilience and Adversity-Activated Development (AAD). Particular emphasis is given to the distinction between resilience and AAD. The usefulness of the ‘Trauma Grid’ in the therapeutic process with refugees is also discussed. The Trauma Grid avoids global impressions and enables a more comprehensive and systematic way of identifying the individual refugee’s functioning in the context of different levels, i.e. individual, family, community and society/culture. Finally, I discuss implications for therapeutic work with refugees.

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