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Thinking about loss, identity and culture in the context of refugee trauma

Dr Nooria Mehraby

Refugee experiences are complex interactions of torture, trauma, exile, migration, settlement and normal life cycle issues. These experiences give rise to a deep sense of loss - loss of family, friends, one’s status, dignity, culture and one’s homeland. In this presentation Nooria will explore issues regarding culture, identity, loss and migration in the context of refugee trauma, through examining a case study of Sabour, a 60 year old Pashtun and former academic from Afghanistan, who arrived in Australia in 1999.

Due to his education and high social class in Afghanistan, Sabour and his family experienced extensive trauma, including the murder of his father and brother during the Russian invasion. Sabour was imprisoned and severely tortured. He also lost his 21 year old son during the civil war in Afghanistan. The main focus of Sabour’s presentation was an intense sense of loss and cultural bereavement. PTSD symptoms were present, but not of primary importance to him. Supportive psychotherapy was offered to Sabour, resulting in a rebuilding of his identity as an Afghan and a Muslim.

Recorded at STARTTS
27 November 2012, New South Wales, Australia.
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Nooria Mehraby
Nooria Mehraby
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Dr Nooria Mehraby

Nooria Mehraby MD is a senior clinician and clinical trainer at STARTTS. Herself a refugee, Nooria has more than 25 years experience working with refugees both overseas and here in Australia. This includes more than 15 years experience at STARTTS doing counselling and community development work with survivors of toture and trauma. Nooria first trained as a medical doctor in her native Afghanistan and later completed a Master of Counselling in Australia.
Nooria is an experienced national and international conference speaker and is the author of multiple publications (including textbook contributions) on refugee trauma, cross-cultural aproaches and working with children. Nooria has lectured in various universities in NSW and has facilitated clinical workshops in other states. Nooria is the editor of sections of the journals of Psychevisual and Psychotherapy in Australia. Her particular interest is in developing cross-cultural therapeutic interventions with refugees. In her current position as STARTTS’ Clinician Trainer, she brings clinical expertise to STARTTS’ wide range of training programs and regularly delivers workshops to service providers.

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