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Trauma and Migration

Cultural Factors in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Traumatised Immigrants

About this book

This book provides an overview of recent trends in the management of trauma and post-traumatic stress disorders that may ensue from distressing experiences associated with the process of migration. Although the symptoms induced by trauma are common to all cultures, their specific meaning and the strategies used to deal with them may be culture-specific. Consequently, cultural factors can play an important role in the diagnosis and treatment of individuals with psychological reactions to extreme stress. This role is examined in detail, with an emphasis on the need for therapists to bear in mind that different cultures often have different concepts of health and disease and that cross-cultural communication is therefore essential in ensuring effective care of the immigrant patient. The therapist’s own intercultural skills are highlighted as being an important factor in the success of any treatment and specific care contexts and the global perspective are also discussed.



Many migrants experience traumatisation when leaving their countries and moving to a new location. This is particularly true for refugees. However, different factors including discrimination and social exclusion can traumatise all migrants, including those who have a secure legal status. This book focuses on these various ways in which refugees and migrants can be traumatised, describes the epidemiology of post-traumatic stress disorders among refugees and migrants, discusses challenges in cross-cultural diagnosis and communication and elucidates the role of stigmatisation on the one hand and resilience on the other, which impact on the ability of refugees to cope with the challenges of migration and social exclusion. A special focus is given to gender issues and chalenges of specific settings and experiences such as torture and incarceration. Finally, specific treatment issues are discussed and include a description of the relevance of cultural competence, the need to orient towards resilience an coping capacities of migrants and to integrate such approaches in best practice models for traumatised refugees.

Altogether, this book gives an excellent overview over the epidemiology and relevance of the topic, shows ways how to diagnose trauma in different cultural and social settings and discusses best practice approaches for treating traumatised migrants, Thios topic is highly relevant given the increasing number of racist attacks on refugees, but also in view of the changing landscape of legal requirements and border policies in Europe and other parts of the world.

Meryam Schouler-Ocak, the head of the outpatient unit of the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy of the Charité, St. Hedwig Hospital, Berlin, managed to bring together an excellent group of experts in epidemiology, diagnosis and treatment ot trauma among refugees and other migrants. The book includes views and voices from Turkey and Israel, Canada, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain and thus spans northern and southern, eastern and western regions of Europe and its neighbouring regions and links them with a global perspective. European societies dedicated to humanitarian ideals have to respond to the question how to adequately deal with the weakest members of society. Traumatised refugees and other migrants are among these subjects, which deserve special attention and care. May this book help to provide them with the best available support!


Berlin, Germany                                                                       Andreas Heinz

Introduction: The Relevance of Trauma Among Immigrants

 Schouler-Ocak, Meryam         pp. 3-8


Rethinking Trauma as a Global Challenge

 Pedersen, Duncan                  pp.9-31


The Epidemiology of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder: A Focus on Refugee and Immigrant Populations

Aichberger, Marion C.             pp. 33-37



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Trauma and Migration
Cultural Factors in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Traumatised Immigrants

Herausgeber:  Schouler-Ocak, Meryam (Ed.) 

  • Examines recent trends in the management of trauma and post-traumatic stress disorders in immigrants

  • Explains how cultural factors can impact on diagnosis and treatment

  • Stresses the importance of cross-cultural understanding and communication

Refuge and Resilience
An innovative focus on resilience