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Effective Clinical Interventions with Asylum Seekers

Prof. Zachary Steel

The experience of asylum seekers and refugees who face the risk of forced repatriation differs in critical ways from the general pattern of refugees who have secure residency. Clinical research conducted by STARTTS and by the UNSW Psychiatry and Teaching Unit has documented the presence of an anticipatory traumatic stress condition amongst refugees with insecure residency, associated with vivid distressing intrusive thoughts about the future that is distinct but associated with post traumatic stress disorder. The research has found that both PTSD and anticipatory stress symptoms were highly responsive to changes in residency status across a two year period, but with anticipatory traumatic fear showing heightened sensitivity to continuing uncertainty. 

Clinical Master Class Evening
26 November 2014

Zachary Steel
Zachary Steel
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Prof. Zachary Steel

Zachary Steel holds the St John of God Professorial Chair of Trauma and Mental Health, a partnership between Richmond Hospital, the School of Psychiatry UNSW and the Black Dog Institute. Professor Steel’s program of research has examined the prevalence, social determinants and intervention models for mental health problems across diverse communities and settings with a particular focus on traumatic stress, forced displacement, conflict and culturally specific symptoms of mental disorder and stress. Within the Asia Pacific region he is currently involved in collaborative mental health research programs in Vietnam, Aceh-Indonesia and Timor-Leste as well as with asylum seeker and refugee communities in Australia and amongst Aboriginal communities in Far West NSW. The work of Professor Steel with asylum seeker populations in Australia has helped to develop an evidence base on the adverse mental health consequences of harsh asylum policies including the use of immigration detention and temporary protection visas. He has worked with legal colleagues to develop best practice guidelines for the better recognition of mental health conditions in the assessment of asylum claims.

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