The need for psychological support among the refugees seeking protection in Germany is very great. As a result of violence, war and their arduous journeys, many of them suffer from emotional trauma. We are finding that this kind of trauma often gets lost in the background because of other problems associated with the complicated and often difficult process of seeking asylum and settling in Germany.
The language and the culture are strange, visits to government agencies can be upsetting, children need to be schooled, finding accommodation is a tremendous challenge, as is starting an education program or a new job. Without specialized support and treatment, all of these factors can combine to cause subsequent emotional disorders that frequently have a life-long impact.
Together with the Center for Intercultural Psychiatry and Psychotherapy (ZIPP) at Charité Hospital, which has years of experience in the multidisciplinary, transcultural care of non-German patients, we are developing a training program for psychotherapists in private practice who want to treat refugees. One special challenge in this context is the collaboration with interpreters and social workers, including associated legal and method-related questions, which otherwise are not part of a psychotherapist’s everyday work. In a one-year training program with practical supervision, the participants learn to manage the diverse challenges of out-patient work with refugees who have mental health issues.
Currently we are in intense talks with the university lecturers and supervisors who will be conducting the program, and with whom we are working closely for the preparations. The first event, a week-long seminar, is scheduled to take place in early July. Our partners are the Berlin Seminar for Intercultural Psychotherapy, the Community Interpretation Service (Gemeindedolmetscherdienst), and the Berlin Chambers of Physicians and Psychotherapists.