This stirring and insightful book explores how family dynamics among refugees are affected by the trauma of forced migration.
Written by an experienced family therapist, it uses a systemic perspective to understand the impact on couple relationships and parenting, as well as the broader issue of cultural and social assimilation. Shedding light on the complex and relational nature of the trauma experienced by refugee families, including issues around gender and mental health, Shadi Shahnavaz examines the clinical implications for those who care for them. The unique, in-depth interviews with refugees provide a rare insight into their journey to England and the adverse experiences they encounter along the way. Rather than a simple reflection on practice, Shahnavaz invites the reader to think about the ways in which they can connect with others, even in challenging and unfamiliar situations.
Working Systemically with Refugee Couples and Families is essential reading for any therapist or counsellor working today.
'Dr Shahnavaz is to be commended for writing such a useful book, especially during these times when the phenomenon of refugees is so prominent in our societies. It is unique because of its specific focus on couples and families and its systemic approach, examining the interactive implications of these forms of adversities. The inclusion of relevant clinical material brings to life the complexities of these painful realities, whilst it also indicates ways of effectively addressing them. The book will be a valuable resource both for specialists and for the general public.'
Renos K Papadopoulos, PhD, Professor at the University of Essex, UK. Author of Involuntary Dislocation: Home, Trauma, Resilience and Adversity-Activated Development (Routledge, 2021)
'An important and timely contribution to the clinical work with highly traumatized refugees and their families—very moving, personal and instructive! Essential reading for all practitioners listening to seemingly unspeakable narratives...'
Dr E. Asen, Consultant Psychiatrist, University College London & Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, UK
'At one level, Dr. Shahnavaz’s honest new book is an academic text, with a comprehensive review of literature and an examination of the contemporary political and social contexts in which refugee lives are embedded. At the heart of the book are compelling real-life accounts of refugee couples’ experiences and journeys, woven in with the author’s reflexive experiences of migration. It is these narratives that transport the book from an academic text to a complex hybrid between historical biography and autobiography. The book is written in a lucid and accessible style and includes a helpful overview and critique of therapeutic interventions for refugee couples and families. It skillfully examines the controversial subject of whether cultural and linguistic matching between the family and therapist is necessary for the therapeutic relationship. The book is a "must read" for students and teachers of refugee studies; for clinicians working with refugees; for service providers and policy makers; for service users; and for all those who are interested in culture, couple and family relationships and the impact of transgenerational trauma.'
Dr Reenee Singh, Consultant Family and Systemic Psychotherapist & Founding Director, London Intercultural Couples Centre at the Child and Family Practice, UK
Table of Contents:
1. Introduction 2. My Background 3. The Effects of Trauma on Families 4. Refugees' Lived Experiences 5. Differences and Similarities 6. Seeking Therapeutic Help and Cross-Cultural Therapy 7. Thoughts on Engaging and Helping Refugee Families in Therapy 8. Working with Refugees and Refugee Families
About the Author:
Shadi Shahnavaz is a social worker and systemic therapist. She has worked for over 25 years with complex families and individuals and has extensive experience in working with refugees. Shahnavaz presents and provides training on attachment theory, working with trauma, and working systemically. She has her own private practice and is head of Children and Families Services in a London mental health service.