Date of Award

2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy of Marriage and Family Therapy (DMFT)

Department

College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Family Therapy

Advisor

Tommie V. Boyd

Committee Member

Anne H. Rambo

Abstract

Meeting the psychological needs of the culturally and linguistically different has always posed challenges to mental health providers. The Haitian community in South Florida has been one such group for whom mental health services have been less than readily available. Some reasons include a lack of trust from the community, a pejorative cultural framework of mental health services, as well as, a lack of competent Haitian Creole speaking therapists armed with culturally congruent therapeutic skills. These present as challenges for community based-agencies attempting to meet the mental health needs of this population. It is even more problematic for humanitarian voluntary agencies (VOLAG) that sponsor refugees and support them throughout their resettlement efforts. Additionally, the 2010 earthquake has given rise to gender based violence disproportionally impacting women and girls (Amnesty International, 2011) who are now seeking safe haven in the U.S. and particularly South Florida. Tasked with assisting in the resettlement of Haitian refugees/asylees/parolees, many psychologically affected by pre and post migration traumas, these agencies must find unique solutions to help their clients toward the ultimate goal of resettlement, self-sufficiency (Stenning, 1996). This Applied Clinical Project (ACP) showcases a community-university partnership with a VOLAG. Participatory Action Research (PAR) protocol was used as an explorative tool to learn from stakeholders about the efficacy of incorporating Solution-Focused Group Therapy (SFBT) in a resettlement integrative program for Haitians. Results will also contribute to the future development of a toolkit to support family therapists in adapting their western trainings to provide culturally and linguistically competent mental health services.

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