Questions about providing mental health care to forcibly displaced individuals in an effective way have long challenged experts (Karachiwalla, 2011; Miller, 1999; Blackwell, 1989). Concerns about the suitability of providing psychological support in the context of significant instability and about the efficacy of Western-derived treatments for an overwhelmingly non-Western population are at the forefront of contemporary disagreements in the field (Miller and Rasmussen, 2010; Neuner et al., 2002). Yet little is known about the perspectives the clinicians who treat forcibly displaced individuals, namely refugees and asylum seekers, hold about their work. The following study presents the results of a qualitative investigation in which five semi-structured interviews were conducted in 2011 with clinicians treating displaced individuals in the greater London and Cambridgeshire areas. These interviews were analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). The findings convey how professionals practicing with this population maintain a positive outlook on the efficacy of their treatments. While the group attributed some barriers to cultural differences, they also identified the two essential prerequisites of understanding and interest on which successful counseling was predicated. The participants offered insights into how they view the acculturation process as having a beneficial impact on their clients’ ability to make gains in counseling.
Keywords: Refugees, asylum seekers, mental health, counseling, psychotherapy, IPA, acculturation.