Many factors influence our mental health, especially as a refugee or an asylum seeker. It is not only about trauma we may have endured or what might have happened to us and to our communities, but also about:
We may feel under stress about the process of our integration and adaptation in Britain, namely our experiences of housing issues, jobs, education, transport, the environment, the language barrier, as well as the way we live our lives. Perhaps after much unhappiness, if we do not seek appropriate help, we may be left with invisible wounds or many unanswered questions, as well as practical problems in managing our day to day lives, and the life of our children or our dependants.
So, it is important that when we feel it is difficult to handle one or more of these challenges by ourself, to seek professional help. Counselling or psychotherapy can help us to learn a new way of dealing with these issues.
Having counselling is a process that you and your counsellor set aside, at a regular time each week for a period, to explore difficulties you are having which may include the stressful or emotional feelings about your past or present as well as potential fear of future.
Psychotherapy is communication between you and your psychotherapist that can help you to find relief from emotional stress, become less anxious and fearful or to deal with feeling depressed. Talking with your psychotherapist about problems you are having in your life, such as dealing with disappointment, grief, relationship or other family issues, and job or career dissatisfaction. Regularly talking to a professional can help you to find ways of thinking and acting which will prevent you from becoming anxious or depressed, by working productively with your psychotherapist.
The process usually starts with some discussion of your background and the concerns that led you to seek help. Following the first meeting, called assessment, you and the therapist decide whether this is something that you both think might be helpful for you. If you come to an agreement, you then will start seeing a psychotherapist on a regular basis usually once a week for ongoing treatment. The treatment will be focusing on the goals of treatment, treatment procedures, and a regular schedule for the time and duration of sessions. Talking with a psychotherapist differs from talking with a friend or family who might be able and willing to listen and may give you advice, but psychotherapists are trained professionals with specialised education and experience to be good listeners and support you to find the right way, by understanding the cause of your psychological problems.
Many of the counsellors and psychotherapists at the Refugee Therapy Centre have been asylum seekers and refugees themselves, and they want to help refugees who may find their lives difficult here in the UK and would like some help. Staff at the Refugee Therapy Centre can listen with respect and sometimes contribute from own experience and knowledge. You may wish to see a psychotherapist or counsellor who speaks your own language (if available) or you may prefer to see an English speaker. We take into account the fact that some patients prefer not to see someone from their own cultural background, due to feelings of mistrust, guilt, shame or embarrassment and also the intensity of emotion and pain.
If you would like to know more, please contact the Centre. We receive written referrals from mental health professionals, Refugee Community Organisations, GPs, Social Services and schools. Individuals who wish to self-refer should speak with their GP and ask them to refer them to our service. If the Centre's resources and services are considered suitable this may lead to a conversation with an assessor - someone you can talk to about your situation and needs in the assessment. After that, if it feels right you might meet a counsellor or psychotherapist who you can talk to for fifty minutes at the same time each week.