The work of psychologists in the care of refugees

Every day, a large number of people decide to leave their country. Various reasons such as wars, political persecution, terrorism, Violation of human rights, etc. they don’t give them a better choice, so they end up becoming refugees. Many of them travel to Europe in search of safety and protection.

Many asylum seekers have had traumatic experiences and unfortunately also physical problems. They urgently need professional help, and therefore in various reception and guidance centers for refugees, the figure of the psychologist plays a very important role.

    The importance of psychologists in the care of refugees

    The psychologist works in collaboration with social workers and educators, doctors, teachers and especially interpreters. Efforts are made to meet the basic needs of refugees and help control high levels of psychological distress.

    Newcomers struggle every day to break the memory of their traumatic journey and try to adjust to a new life away from their homeland.

    Many refugees have had traumatic experiences

    Many people who come every day to seek asylum, they have had traumatic experiences in their country of origin and during the trip to its destination in Europe.

    They have encountered or experienced first-person violence situations: visualization of lifeless bodies, torture, arrests, survivors of explosions or bullet holes, destruction of their homes and property, disappearance of their loved ones … all of this forces them to live in a constant state of fear.

    Nightmares, flaschbacks, sleep disturbances and concentration …

    Traumatic experiences can develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with which they live recurring memories, Especially at night or sudden images during the day (Flashbacks). Traumatic memories are relived with great intensity.

    For example, a man who saw a plane fly over, experienced a panic attack as he remembered how they were bombing his town; or a woman listening to fireworks at a local party.

    Sleep and concentration disturbances, emotional numbness, anxiety and depression often accompany them. We also must not forget the presence of suicidal thoughts, Which can be triggered by acts of self-harm or, directly, by suicide itself.

    Other possible mental disorders

    PTSD is not the only disorder that can occur in these cases. Other psychological complications that may appear or become more acute due to the traumatic process are adjustment disorder, persistence of personality changes after the traumatic experience, dissociative disorders, borderline personality disorder …

    They can also appear addiction issues, depression, chronic pain and anxiety, Others.

    It should be noted that the traumatic experience is not only the result of the experiences in your home country, but also of the journey made to reach a final destination where they can be safe. Many times the conditions of transportation, food, clothing, etc. these are not the right ones.


    The new environment in which the refugees find themselves forces them to adapt quickly in different areas. The social, cultural and lifestyle environment is radically changing and this fact requires a new adaptation, which in most cases raises uncertainty and insecurity (such as reacting to differences in customs and habits or traditions; learning a new language and / or writing), concerns and different losses or punishments (people, places and ways of life).

    To all this must be added the forced separation or the loss of parents. Many of them have left their loved ones behind, Or during the arrival journey, without knowing where they are and if they are still alive. This constant uncertainty torments them with recurring thoughts such as, “Was it my fault? Or where is my child? Will he / she still be alive?” Endless questions that seek to find meaning in everything that is happening around you, in order to be able to assimilate everything that has happened and to be able to continue with a calmer life.

    The key is in the integration

    Often, return to the country of origin is not a viable alternative, in which case they may be allowed stay indefinitely in the country where they have found safe conditions.

    A key point is to promote social, cultural, political and economic integration through the promotion of intercultural and interfaith dialogue, Tolerance and respect for other cultures. Give the opportunity to discover, understand and learn the values ​​and cultures of refugees and at the same time rediscover and enrich theirs.

    Immaculate expert Gregori, psychologist.

    Leave a Comment