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The challenges of working with refugee trauma

Jorge Aroche

The complex presentations associated with people from refugee and refugee like situations pose a variety of challenges to service providers in general and clinicians in particular. This group not only has a very high incidence of exposure to severe trauma, but their recovery is also complicated by ongoing danger of exposure to further trauma, environmental stresses associated with the refugee experience and adaptation to life in a new environment, as well as increased vulnerability to secondary traumatization. This group presents with a combination of symptoms at the individual level and issues and problems at the group and community level that vividly illustrates the effects of trauma at the biological, psychological and psycho-social realms


Recorded at the NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS) September 2007, New South Wales, Australia.
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Jorge Aroche
Jorge Aroche
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VideoThe challenges of working with refugee traumaJorge Aroche47'24"

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Jorge Aroche

Jorge Aroche is a clinical psychologist and the Executive Director of the NSW Service for the Treatment And Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS). Jorge co-convenes the Forum of Australian Services for Survivors of Torture and Trauma and is the Secretary General of the International Society for Health and Human Rights. He has presented widely on clinical and settlement issues for traumatized refugees in national and international fora. His latest contribution includes a chapter titled “Ethno-cultural considerations in the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers”, Chapter 4 in, Broken Spirits: The Treatment of Asylum Seekers and Refugees with PTSD.  John P. Wilson and Boris Drozdek (Eds.)  New York: Brunner-Routledge Press, 2004.
STARTTS has played a crucial role since 1988 in the development and implementation of innovative approaches in the context of a systemic and integrative model of service provision to assist survivors of torture and refugee trauma to overcome the consequences of their traumatic experiences and rebuild their lives in Australia. STARTTS has assisted over 24,000 individual clients from over 70 nationalities through its clinical programs, and many more thousand through its community development and group program streams. STARTTS also played important roles in Operation Safe Haven assisting 4,000 evacuees from Kosovo and in the development of mental health services in East Timor.

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