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Keywords:

  • refugee;
  • resettlement;
  • therapeutic intervention;
  • mental health services;
  • trauma;
  • culture;
  • best practices;
  • evidence base;
  • effect size

There are increasing numbers of refugees worldwide, with approximately 16 million refugees in 2007 and over 2.5 million refugees resettled in the United States since the start of its humanitarian program. Psychologists and other health professionals who deliver mental health services for individuals from refugee backgrounds need to have confidence that the therapeutic interventions they employ are appropriate and effective for the clients with whom they work. The current review briefly surveys refugee research, examines empirical evaluations of therapeutic interventions in resettlement contexts, and provides recommendations for best practices and future directions in resettlement countries. The resettlement interventions found to be most effective typically target culturally homogeneous client samples and demonstrate moderate to large outcome effects on aspects of traumatic stress and anxiety reduction. Further evaluations of the array of psychotherapeutic, psychosocial, pharmacological, and other therapeutic approaches, including psychoeducational and community-based interventions that facilitate personal and community growth and change, are encouraged. There is a need for increased awareness, training and funding to implement longitudinal interventions that work collaboratively with clients from refugee backgrounds through the stages of resettlement.