Directors of the School:
Kurt W. Fischer, Antonio M. Battro and Sebastián J. Lipina
Director of the Course: Marcelo Suárez Orozco
Program Officer of the School: Lula Majdalani
Dr. Maryam Kia-Keating is an Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology at University of California, Santa Barbara and a Licensed Clinical Psychologist. Her research examines risk and resilience in the context of exposure to violence, stress, adversity, and other potentially traumatic events. She utilizes community-based participatory research to empower refugee, immigrant, and other vulnerable communities towards social action to prevent and reduce health disparities. She served on the American Psychological Association Task Force on the Psychosocial Effects of War on Children and Families who are Refugees. Her research is funded by the National Institutes of Health.
Resilience and participatory approaches with refugee youth and communities in resettlement
As unprecedented numbers of refugees are displaced globally, it is critical to better understand factors related to post-migration health and mental health. Assessing refugee needs from a primarily deficit approach leads to research investigations and programs that are narrow and inadequate in their perspective and reach. Taking a traditional ‘expert-outsider’ role in the provision of services often excludes important psychocultural elements impacting outcomes in resettlement, and fails to capitalize on refugee community strengths. In contrast, shifting to a ‘solution-partner’ role, and utilizing participatory, human-centered, and empowerment approaches, provides opportunities to distill collective, local knowledge about the social determinants of health disparities for refugee communities, and generate “insider” solutions to their own defined and identified needs in resettlement. Participatory approaches can help to target contextual and macro-level issues that are impacting refugee well-being in resettlement. Working in partnership with refugees ensures attention to community strengths and resilience, and can both draw from and help support the development of protective and promotive factors to inform policy and prevention efforts. Engaging with refugee youth and communities as equitable partners builds their agency to move towards social action and to help lead the efforts in reducing disparities and supporting resilience in resettlement.