skip to main content

by Robert H. Klein, PhD

Migration crises exist today worldwide, throughout Europe, Yemen and the Middle East, Africa, Myanmar and Bangladesh. The U.S. too is dealing with migration problems at our southern border. Many in the migrant population are poor, uneducated, seeking asylum and enduring multiple chronic traumas prior to, during and after their migration journeys. Our government’s immigration policies and practices, particularly those involving the separation of migrant children and families, are drawing increasing scrutiny and criticism.

This special issue is an attempt to examine the impact of this situation upon us as human beings and as group psychotherapists. It poses several interrelated questions: (1) How well prepared and trained are we to emotionally understand what migrants are experiencing and to provide culturally sensitive effective group treatment? (2) What evidence do we have that group psychotherapy is a treatment modality that lends itself to working with migrants; is there available evidence-based research to guide us in formulating the best forms of group intervention? (3) Do we know the nature of our current immigration laws and practices and how these affect those we serve, our potential consumers, including migrants and their families, border patrol agents, lawyers, health care workers and the multiple individuals, organizations and facilities involved in helping, feeding, housing, caring for and reuniting families? (4) Do we have ethical challenges and responsibilities, consistent with our code of professional ethics for group psychotherapists, that might lead us away from a position of neutrality toward one of social activism; is there a role for the group therapist as social-change-agent? (5) At a broader level, can our knowledge of group dynamic principles help us to understand our migration problems and our responses?

Additional examples of desired work include:

  • Identification of special problems and opportunities practitioners are likely to encounter in treating migrants, e.g., implicit bias, racism, classism, countertransference and how to deal with these reactions.
  • Addressing the need for multimodal treatment intervention and assessing the comparative advantages and limitations of each mode.
  • Implications for training and supervision of group psychotherapists.

This special issue will be edited by Robert H. Klein, PhD. Please contact him by email with questions. For general author instructions and other information about the submission process, please see the journal's author submission instructions.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Date created: March 2019