The Intercultural Counseling Connection is a referral network of mental health professionals committed to providing culturally responsive counseling and therapeutic services for refugees in the greater Baltimore area.
The mission of the Intercultural Counseling Connection is to foster a referral network that links refugee clients in the greater Baltimore area with mental health professionals trained in providing culturally-responsive care, and to serve as a source of professional support and growth for participating therapists.
Background and Need
Baltimore is a major center for refugee resettlement on the East Coast. Between 2010 and 2014, over 6,000 refugees from 50 different conflict-affected countries were resettled in Maryland. Thousands of these families and individuals now make their homes in Baltimore city and county.
Whatever their country of origin, all refugees have experienced forced displacement and the devastating effects of conflict, including the loss of their homes, livelihoods, and social networks. The majority of those eventually selected for resettlement in the U.S. have spent years, even decades, in refugee camps, under conditions of insecurity, poverty, and violence. On arrival here, they face the challenge of adapting to a completely new environment, culture, and language. This process of acculturation often creates additional stress for individuals and families.
Maryland is also home to thousands of individuals who have sought asylum here in the U.S. because they have experienced targeted repression, violence, or torture in their home countries. The process of applying for asylum may involve months, or even years. During this time, asylum seekers must cope with uncertainty about their future, as well as with the often profound psychological and physical effects of past abuse.
Culturally-attuned mental health services can help strengthen the psychological, emotional, and social wellbeing of refugees and asylum seekers, and help them realize their hopes for new lives here in the U.S. Therapeutic services for these clients should be responsive to cultural factors and linguistic needs, and informed by an understanding of refugee narratives of survival and resilience.
Many mental health resources are available in the Baltimore area. For refugees and asylum seekers, however, access to these services is often limited due to cultural and linguistic barriers and other factors. At the same time, few mental health professionals have been aware of the city’s growing refugee community, or have had access to training designed to strengthen their competencies in working with this population.
The Intercultural Counseling Connection was established to help address this gap, and to serve as a bridge between refugee community members and concerned mental health providers.
The Connection seeks to engage professionals across the spectrum of mental health fields, including clinical licensed social workers, psychotherapists, psychiatrists, mental health counselors, and psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioners.
Currently, the Connection network includes over 20 mental health professionals committed to providing culturally-responsive therapeutic care for refugee clients. They include clinicians who specialize in working with youth, with families, and with survivors of domestic abuse. (For more information, see Find a Mental Health Provider.)
Each network member is prepared to work with at least two refugee clients or families per year. Session frequency and duration are determined by the client and therapist.
In return, Connection providers have access to a variety of informational resources as well as ongoing free opportunities for training and professional support. Connection training workshops address such topics as the nature of pre- and post-flight trauma experiences; appropriate practices in working with survivors of conflict-related trauma and torture; and working effectively with interpreters in therapeutic settings with refugee clients. (For more information, see Get Involved.)
Statistics: Maryland Office of Refugees and Asylees, Summary: Refugee and Asylee Resettlement in Maryland 2008-2012.
The Connection wishes to thank the following for generously supporting our work by providing space for counseling sessions and/or related activities:
Asylee Women Enterprise
Church of the Redeemer, Baltimore
The Episcopal Refugee and Immigrant Center Alliance (ERICA), Baltimore
Goodnow Community Center
Most Precious Blood Church, Baltimore
Mission Helper Center, Towson
The Park Heights Community Health Alliance, Baltimore
The Immigration Outreach Service Center, Baltimore
The Spectrum Center for Natural Medicine, Silver Spring
Towson Unitarian Universalist Church
The Zion Church of the City of Baltimore
To learn about the diverse services and programs they offer, please visit their websites.