Which psychological characteristics influence therapists' readiness to work with refugees?

Clin Psychol Psychother. 2021 Mar;28(2):334-344. doi: 10.1002/cpp.2508. Epub 2020 Sep 1.


Refugee populations show considerably high rates of mental health problems. Yet many mental health professionals may have reservations to work with refugees due to suspected cultural differences, language barriers and the need to provide additional services. However, little is known about psychotherapists' readiness to work with refugees. In a sample of German psychotherapists (N = 111), we explored therapeutic style (neutrality, supportiveness and self-doubt), therapists' basic assumptions (pessimism, rationality and therapy as art), experiences, private and work-related contact with refugees, political interests, openness and practical barriers as potential predictors of readiness to work with refugees. Therapeutic styles of self-doubt and neutrality, rationality as basic assumption, former experiences with refugees in a therapeutic setting, feeling comfortable working with an interpreter in therapy and perceived language barriers emerged as most important predictors of psychotherapists' readiness to work with refugees. Future directions and potential interventions to promote therapists' readiness to work with refugees are discussed.

Keywords: mental health; psychotherapy; refugees; therapeutic style; therapists.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cultural Competency
  • Female
  • Health Personnel / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychotherapists / psychology*
  • Psychotherapy*
  • Refugees / psychology*
  • Young Adult

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