Review of Refugee Mental Health Interventions Following Resettlement: Best Practices and Recommendations


  • This review was prepared as a background for part of an Australian Psychological Society (APS) position paper on refugees with assistance from the APS, but the review represents the views and summary opinions of the authors and does not constitute a formally endorsed APS position. The first author was supported by the National Cancer Institute Grants U54 CA132384 and U54 CA132379. The third author would like to thank the Australian Research Council for its support of a research study on the conceptualization and treatment of people from a refugee background (ARC Grant LP0776558). We thank the reviewers and Elizabeth Klonoff for helpful comments that substantially improved the quality of the work.

concerning this article should be addressed to Kate E. Murray, San Diego State University/University of California San Diego Cancer Center Partnership, 6363 Alvarado Ct., MC 1895, San Diego, CA 92120-4913. Electronic mail may be sent to


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.