I saw this young man for about 3 years in my practice of clinical counselling. We ended the treatment when he felt that he was stable enough and ready to end his therapy. His self-report of traumatic experiences was quite horrifying and I had the opportunity to receive supervision while working with this client. It was about 4 years ago that he ceased coming in for his weekly counselling sessions. I wished him all well and that was it. Now, however, something quite unique is happening. Every now and then, sometimes a few months apart, I receive a phone call from this past client who just likes to update me on how he is doing. His updates are mostly about his improvements and new learning experiences. I listen to all his updates with compassion, interest, and empathy. His most recent update was a couple of days ago. I have been thinking of his reason for why we have these short 5 minutes phone calls or updates. I realize that it was not me that he is updating at all! He is, instead, confirming with himself that indeed he is doing well and there is no reason for fear anymore. This person has indeed done a tremendous amount of changes in his life; having a full-time job, having gone back to school and working towards his bachelor, plus being in a stable relationship. As to why he needs to update me; it is because he needs to remind himself that he is on a right path. If I as a therapist have witnessed his suffering, now it is time to witness his success stories.
Poran Poregbal, MA, RSW, RCC
Canada is in the process of accepting a large number of refugees, in particular people from Syria. Welcoming and bringing home refugees from Syria became a happy news in December 2015, when the first group of those individuals and families started to make the airport life more exciting than normal.
You could think that most settlement agencies across Canada, have instructions or plans in order to settle refugees and help them to integrate into their new communities’ best they can. However, the great question remaining is that what is the plan for the provision of mental health services for this population? What is the plan for treating and providing for mental health issues that most of the refugees are dealing with? Surely the research shows that refugees are the population prone to develop mental health issues due to the level of experienced pre-migration and at times post-migration challenges.
As a refugee, you arrive with the deep level of emotional pain and trauma simply because your life has been turned upside down. It is simply traumatic if you are forced to leave the known environment and knocking on neighbour’s doors for protection. For many people, it is challenging to ask for help and surely there are those who could require more services than others.
Therefore, it is important to understand the level of trauma that refugees are carrying with the self. Treatment of trauma and emotional pain is an absolutely important part of the settlement program for refugees, however regretfully, this issue could be overlooked easily. Treat the pain as the first step towards settlement, that is smart and helps the other steps to happen much faster.
Poran Poregbal, MA, RSW, RCC