Amanda Mc Fadden, Refugee Presentation

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  • NZ fulfills its international humanitarian obligations through the UN Quota refugee programme. NZ is one of 10 countries that accepts a annual quota. (1000/year decided off shore prior to arrival in NZ while in UN camps). Quota refugees are granted permanent residency on arrival in NZ. Undergo resettlement programmes at Mangere for a 6 week period. Asylum seekers arrive in the country by legal or illegal means and then declare asylum at the border or following arrival become convention refugees when claims are acceptedThe first stage for determining a asylum seekers claim is a RSB hearing. Three parts 1) to establish credibility of claim, 2) risk of serious harm according to the 5 convention reasons, 3) to establish if there is there an internal protection alternative.The appeal process occurs within the Immigration and Protection Tribunal (IPT). This is more like a court, panel of 2-3 judges, lawyers.Protected persons - captures victims of torture, cruel inhumane or degrading punishment or treatment. CAT and International COnvention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhumane Treatment.Humanitarian Grounds-broader focused on exceptional circumstances of a humanitarian nature that would make unjust or unduly harsh for a person to be removed from NZ. Includes issues of emotional, physical, mental health and well being. should person be deported-issues sit outside refugee convention or CAT.
  • Credibility issues often arise out of a claimants behaviour or responses during interviews. Psychologists are often asked to investigate inconsistencies in reporting, omissions or unusual responses that may be observed during the interview process.Psychologists are often asked to give an assessment of a claimants state of mind.Psychologists are almost always asked to look at the risks posed to a person should they be returned to the site of persecution or trauma, or deported.
  • It is important to actively consider the validity and reliability of your findings. There are formal assessment tools available that attempt to measure symptom validity. They can be used but not in all cases. In my experience the issue symptom validity can present some thorny issues but this should not be ignored. It is the RSB and IPT's role to evaluate all the information and decide on credibility.
  • Over the last 20 years there has much been discussion about the need to broaden definitions of PTSD to include a diagnosis of complex PTSD as a stand alone disorder.
  • As I became more involved in this work I came up against situations where giving an opinion of presence or otherwise of PTSD, did not feel adequate or did not capture the complexity of the claimants or their families experiences, or the basis for the fears about being returned to their countries of origin. I started to look within the literature for answers to my questions, for the means to make sense of my clinical formulations and to assist the decisions makers in their task of making sense of the stories that the claimants were providing.
  • A discussion of the family beliefs held by a refugee family feeds into a consideration of the world view held by the group. World view is a concept that has been discussed for many centuries across a range of disciplines (theology, philiosophy, anthropology) and it is considered intergral to the discipline of psychology.
  • In 2008 I became involved with a family who were orginally from Colombia. The family had been persecuted by FARC since 1982. FARC was stablished in 1964 as the military wing of the Colombian Communist Party, the FARC is Colombia's oldest, largest, most capable, and best-equipped Marxist insurgency. The FARC is organized along military lines and includes several urban fronts.I have presented this case as it was a watershed case for me in my practice in this area and led to me really begin to read and think about the issues facing asylum seekers and the value of psychologists working in this arena. The picture that you see here, is from Colombia. It was taken recently and shows the damage caused by a bombing which was orchestrated by FARC.
  • Inconsistencies in stories can come because of the collective nature of the stories. In some cultures the whole family has to agree on the story or members will defer to another members recall or view. Things that aren 稚 exact get built into the story and stay there or grow so that the story takes on a life of its own. A new version of events then is arrived at without the intention to lie. Alternatively family members assist those who have a poor memory or who become highly symptomatic on the recalling triggering aspects of the story. This can led to people then on interview omitting details or providing different details. Make an effort to get to the bottom of what is happening.
  • Amanda Mc Fadden, Refugee Presentation

    1. 1. Complex Trauma within Refugee Populations The Role of a Clinical Psychologist in Refugee Proceedings
    2. 2. Presentation Overview <ul><li>The Legal Questions. </li></ul><ul><li>Why are Psychologists Useful in this Arena. </li></ul><ul><li>The Referral Process. </li></ul><ul><li>How to Structure an Assessment. </li></ul><ul><li>Complex Trauma and Worldview-Why are they so important?-Case Examples. </li></ul><ul><li>Key things that make for a helpful report. </li></ul><ul><li>Where to from here. </li></ul>
    3. 3. United Nations Definition of a Refugee <ul><li>Refugees are people who owing to a well founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside of the country of their nationality and is unable, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail themselves of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being out side of their former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear to return to it. </li></ul>
    4. 4. The Legal Questions <ul><li>Legal Refugee Categories-Quota Refugees vs Asylum Seekers. </li></ul><ul><li>The process for asylum seekers. </li></ul><ul><li>The determination of claim process-Refugee Status Branch. </li></ul><ul><li>Appeals-Immigration and Protection Tribunal. </li></ul><ul><li>Protected Persons. </li></ul><ul><li>Humanitarian Appeals. </li></ul>
    5. 5. Why are psychologists useful? <ul><li>We provide critical evidence of psychological damage arising out persecution, torture or cruel inhumane and degrading treatment. </li></ul><ul><li>We provide critical information about the psychosocial consequences of persecution or torture at an individual, family and community level. </li></ul><ul><li>Assist with the gathering of the facts-provide expertise that lawyers, Refugee Officers and IPT members don ’t have. </li></ul><ul><li>Provide context for a refugee s behaviour/responses to the refugee process. </li></ul><ul><li>Risk analysis, address the issues of harm at multiple levels. </li></ul><ul><li>Assist the refugee to provide a coherent narrative of their claim within a non-threatening environment- D e tectives of the Human Soul? </li></ul>
    6. 6. The referral process <ul><li>Lawyer directed or the lawyer communicates on behalf of the RSB. </li></ul><ul><li>Decoding the brief and agreeing the assessment parameters. </li></ul><ul><li>The importance of the written brief. </li></ul><ul><li>Scope of Practice Issues-the problems of operating on the fringes, and how to manage this. </li></ul><ul><li>Identify what supports you need and what are appropriate assessment tasks/tools given the back ground of the claimant. </li></ul>
    7. 7. How to Structure an Assessment <ul><li>All the usual rules apply. </li></ul><ul><li>Multi-modal. </li></ul><ul><li>Always be transparent about the limitations. </li></ul><ul><li>To test or not to test. </li></ul><ul><li>Symptom validity. </li></ul>
    8. 8. Complex Trauma <ul><li>The DSM-IV PTSD diagnosis arose out of notion of trauma being a discrete or circumscribed event-prototypes come from work in the area of combat, disaster and rape. </li></ul><ul><li>Does not recognise the diversity of symptomatic manifestations of prolonged or repeated trauma which can be seen in refugee/asylum populations (Herman, 1997). </li></ul><ul><li>Chronically traumatised people can present very differently-cultural and linguistic complexities and chronic trauma can result in profound and severe personality changes. </li></ul><ul><li>Persecutors/discriminators survive by denying, blaming, minimising the impacts or severity of the trauma suffered by their victims-trauma becomes a way of life for victims and can be socially sanctioned within their country of origin. The can create a environment within which repeated traumatisation occurs across all levels of daily living. </li></ul>
    9. 9. Complex Trauma ..... <ul><li>Trauma has a social and historical dimension that needs to be understood at the individual and sociopolitical level. </li></ul><ul><li>The personal story is embedded in the story of the larger system of family, community, social and moral norms. </li></ul><ul><li>Beliefs held by individuals influence the family as a whole. </li></ul><ul><li>Trauma symptoms and psychological damage expressed by one family member can act as a daily and constant reminder of the trauma experienced by the family as a whole. </li></ul>
    10. 10. Worldview <ul><li>Lens through which a person reads their reality, a filter through which phenomena and reality is perceived and comprehended. </li></ul><ul><li>Way of defining what can be known and done. </li></ul><ul><li>Includes assumptions that may be unproven or unprovable. </li></ul><ul><li>Worldview beliefs encompass views on nature of reality, social relations or guideline for living. </li></ul><ul><li>Highly relevant to an individuals perception or harm and the issue of an internal protection alternative. </li></ul><ul><li>Highly stable-can be superordinate to other sources of information. </li></ul>
    11. 11. FARC in Action
    12. 12. Case Illustration- Olivia, Anna and Patty Pero. <ul><li>Anna had been in NZ for 5 years on a visitors visa as wife of a foreigner who had a work permit. The relationship ended and she and her infant child were at risk of being forced to return to Colombia. </li></ul><ul><li>Anna ’s mother Olivia was granted refugee status and successfully applied for Patty to join as a resident. </li></ul><ul><li>Patty was 23 years old, had effectively been living life of fugitive in isolation in Bogota while Olivia was applying for refugee status. She had severe PSTD and depression as a result of a bombing and her family being persecuted by FARC since 1982. </li></ul><ul><li>Olivia ’s lawyer requested assessment of Patty to assist in Anna ’s claim. Anna was not presenting with psychological disorder but Olivia and Patty very affected and presenting with psychological conditions as a result of their experiences of persecution and an involvment in a bombing in . </li></ul>
    13. 13. Case Illustration… <ul><li>Issues of complex trauma and worldview highly relevant to this case. </li></ul><ul><li>Focus of assessment became how the impact of complex trauma on the family had impacted Anna ’s fears of persecution in Columbia and her ability to cope with separation from Olivia and Patty and return to Colombia. </li></ul>
    14. 14. Key things that make for helpful report <ul><li>Remain impartial-Code of Conduct for High Court Witness applies. </li></ul><ul><li>Ensure that the you have answered the brief. </li></ul><ul><li>Provide a clinical formulation separate to the your opinion. </li></ul><ul><li>A good formulation can become a voice for the voiceless. </li></ul><ul><li>Be transparent about the limitations to your findings. </li></ul><ul><li>Just because a person doesn ’t meet a DSM-IV or ICD-10 criteria it does not mean that have not been persecuted or tortured. </li></ul><ul><li>Take a cautious approach to interpreting inconsistencies, especially when dealing with a collective voice. </li></ul><ul><li>Recommendations about the need for further assessment or treatment-be prepared to actively liaise with the lawyer/other parties to ensure this occurs. </li></ul>
    15. 15. Where to from here <ul><li>Its a lonely place at the moment. </li></ul><ul><li>Skills acquired in the forensic or medico legal arena generalise well to this work. </li></ul><ul><li>BUT there are key differences which require some careful thought, lots of good supervision and self care. </li></ul><ul><li>Our society has competing perspectives about refugees-be prepared to be challenged about the role you play. </li></ul>
    16. 16. Recommended Readings <ul><li>Instanbul Protocol. Professional Training Series No. 8/Rev.1. United National New York and Geneva, 2004. </li></ul><ul><li>Becker, D. (1995). The deficiency of the concept of post traumatic stress disorder when dealing with victims of human rights violations. In R. J. Kleber, C. R. Figley, & B. P. R. Berthold (Eds.), Beyond trauma: Cultural and societal dynamics (pp. 99-131). New York: Plenum Press. </li></ul><ul><li>Hern an d ez, P. (2002). Trauma in war and political persecution: Expanding the concept. American Psychological Association, 72(1), 16-25 </li></ul><ul><li>Koltko-Rivera, M. E. (2004, March). The psychology of worldviews. Review of General Psychology,8(1), 3-58. American Psychological Association. </li></ul><ul><li>Martin-Baro, I. (1989). Political violence and war as causes of psychological trauma in El Salvador. International Journal of Mental Health, 18, 3-20 . WebBridge/MasseyLink | Bibliographic Links | Library Holdings </li></ul><ul><li>Herman, J. (1997). Trauma and Recovery. New York: Basic Books. </li></ul>

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