What Help Do We Offer?
The Immigrant & Refugee Wellness Centre (IRWC) offers individual counselling services to new and former refugee and immigrant clients of any age groups. We are able to work with young children, adolescents and adults of all ages and genders.
We are also offering support groups for new immigrants based on gender. We will be setting up a group for women, for men, for teens and for children if there are sufficient numbers needing these services.
Later, when newcomers have a chance to settle, we will also be offering therapy groups according to gender. Again, a group for men and another for women. These groups can also be offered for teens and for children. The groups will involve trauma therapy consisting of 10 sessions.
There will be a definite difference between the support groups and the trauma therapy groups. The newly arrived refugees will need time to settle, find housing, get children into school. The support groups will concentrate on issues of settlement, struggles around learning a new language, starting life in a new country. There will be no attempt for the support groups to face the traumas they suffered in their countries of origin.
These traumas will be looked at a later time when they are ready to work on integrating them.
When to Call for Help?
Signs to look out for: When people first arrive a sense of confusion is very normal. Their responses is often one of relief, gratitude and anxiety. (“How will I find my place here? Who will become a member of my community?) We expect that settlement priorities will take precedence over everything. If they can begin feeling safe in their accommodations, can find their way to the grocery story, enrol the children in school – these are successes to celebrate. At the beginning all they need to do is to begin feeling “at home” here in their new cities.
Once a sense of settlement happens, emotional and psychological states may change. Memories of the past trauma may surface, memories of horror, devastation, loss of family members and friends and destroyed dreams. We suggest that the sponsoring group be simply attuned to the changes: relationships with family members may change, the person may feel drained of energy, severe depression may manifest itself, physical complaints, sleep disorders, frequent nightmares, irritability, heaviness in the chest, feeling restless, cannot sit still may all be signs to look out for. If a group of these symptoms manifests itself, it may be time for a consultation.
Persuading a Person in Need to Seek Help
The best way to get people to seek help is explaining that after what they went through and the stresses they experienced in resettling, these symptoms, while painful and distressing, are not unusual. Mention that IRWC counsellors have seen many, many people with similar symptoms and there are ways to assist them and ease their pain. Usually most people want to find relief, but they are fearful of facing their past traumas and feel that if they try not to think about it, the problems will go away. In fact, repressed trauma makes them feel worse and makes the body feel worse. It will also manifest itself in pain all over the body. Medicines cannot take this pain away. They may help temporarily, but the pain will return until the person can start integrating the past issues into their psyche.
How to Reach Us
Telephone: Through VIRCS at 250-361-9433
To contact us directly, please use this contact form:
If any sponsoring group needs a consult about a particular refugee family, they can access us either through the email above or my personal email at: firstname.lastname@example.org