Session: They Survived, We Can Help Them Thrive: Evidence-Based Recommendations for Social Work with Forced Migrants (Society for Social Work and Research 22nd Annual Conference - Achieving Equal Opportunity, Equity, and Justice)

7 They Survived, We Can Help Them Thrive: Evidence-Based Recommendations for Social Work with Forced Migrants

Schedule:
Thursday, January 11, 2018: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
Marquis BR Salon 16 (ML 2) (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Cluster: Immigrants and Refugees
Symposium Organizer:
Mitra Ahmadinejad, MA, Florida International University
Background: Social workers have played a significant role throughout history in helping survivors of conflict, persecution, and torture to rebuild their lives. Now that world is witnessing the worst forced displacement crisis since World War II, the social work profession is in a unique position to support the survivors. Research suggests that every minute in 2015, 24 people were forced to flee their homes due to persecution, human right violations, conflict, or general violence, out of which, more than eight crossed international borders to seek protection in other countries as asylum seekers or refugees. As front-line service providers, social workers need practical and scientific tools for measurement of survivors' needs, including those that reflect various degrees of deprivation, poverty, and torture. Social workers also need in-depth knowledge on best practices with survivors who present with diverse characteristics including those with less traditionally supported gender identities. This symposium is a timely contribution to the social work scientific community as it offers evidence-based recommendations for social workers who assist forced migrants in host communities.

Methods: Specifically, this symposium brings together four cross-cutting original research investigations under the cluster of “Immigrants and Refugees”. While the four studies were conducted with diverse groups of forced migrants (Afghan refugees in Iran, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender refugees and asylum seekers in the United States and Canada) and service providers (torture-treatment providers in the United States and refugee and asylum-seeker service providers in Canada), their themes are interconnected on providing evidence-based recommendations for social work practice with forced migrants in host communities.

The first study in this symposium focuses on three different indexes and measurement approaches for quantifying deprivation and poverty among refugees. The second study examines the inter-observer reliability of a comprehensive tool used by service providers in torture treatment for assessing the varied needs of torture survivors. These two presentations are based on cross-sectional surveys (N=2,034 and N=47, respectively) and provide empirically-based findings and recommendations for social workers conducting multi-dimensional assessments. The third study and the fourth both focus on the needs of forced migrants who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) and are based on qualitative research methodology (N= 29 and N=26, respectively). These studies provide in-depth knowledge about resettlement experiences and recommendations for social workers in two major areas: 1) how to help LGBT forced migrants cope with mental health effects of concealing a stigma, and 2) how to help LGBT forced migrants express their sexual and gender identity in a manner that is culturally sensitive and acceptable to them.

Conclusions and Implications: The symposium focuses on the contemporary forced displacement crisis and through research evidence builds a more comprehensive understanding of challenges that forced migrants, specifically refugees and asylum seekers, experience in host countries. More importantly, the symposium provides evidence-based recommendations for social work practice with forced migrants by offering original findings on: 1) unidimensional and multidimensional poverty assessment techniques, 2) multi-systemic approach to needs assessment for torture survivors, and 3) resettlement challenges faced by LGBT forced migrants.

* noted as presenting author
Measuring Refugee Poverty Using Deprivation Versus Income: The Case of Afghans in Iran
Mitra Ahmadinejad, MA, Florida International University; Shanna Burke, PhD, Florida International University; Miriam Potocky, PhD, Florida International University
Developing a Reliable Assessment Tool for Refugee Survivors of Torture
Michaela Zajicek-Farber, PhD, BCD, LCSW-C, The Catholic University of America; Joan Hodges-Wu, MA, MSW, LGSW, Asylum Seeker Assistance Project; Sarah Moore Oliphant, MSW, PhD, The Catholic University of America
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