An introduction to working with refugees and asylum seekers

Course overview

This two-day workshop offers participants an insight into what it means to be a refugee and an asylum seeker. We will consider the role of trauma, assessment of risk and how to nurture resilience and strength using different therapeutic techniques drawn from a range of theoretical models.

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The workshop looks at psychological, social, legal and somatic aspects of the refugee experience including brain/body connections and the ‘migration of identity’ refugees go through as they adjust and try to integrate into the host society. Participants will also learn about innovative resilience based group and community interventions such as the Tree of Life and Team of Life which are particularly applicable for working with children and young people.  Finally, we will emphasise the role of vicarious trauma and the importance of self-care. 

Day 1: Who is a refugee? Legal and social definitions, the refugee journey; Trauma (PTSD, Complex trauma); Mind and body connections; ‘The body keeps the score’; risk assessment 

Day 2: Resilience; migration of identity; theoretical models and therapeutic interventions; narrative techniques: double listening; group and community approaches such as Tree of Life and Team of Life; Self-care

Find out more about the course in this blog post by the course facilitators David Amias and Nsimire Bisimwa. 

This course is for you if you are working or are engaged in (or want to) work with asylum seeking/ refugee people in different capacities. 

You may be working as a voluntary worker, social worker, manager, mental health worker, teacher, psychologist, community/voluntary sector worker, a GP, public sector worker or psychotherapist.

David Amias BA Hons MSW, MSc is dually qualified as a social worker (MSW in Social Work attained in 1984 from Haifa University) and as a family therapist (MSc in Family Therapy) attained in 1993 from Brunel University in association with the Tavistock Clinic).

He has worked with children and families first as a social worker and then as a systemic psychotherapist for 37 years in different statutory and voluntary health and social care contexts. He is an experienced supervisor, consultant and teacher of family therapy and systemic practice specialising in the domains of social care and refugee work.

He has held his current post held is as Consultant Systemic Psychotherapist for the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust since 2005. At the Tavistock Centre he works in the CAMHS Refugee Service, runs the CPD Course – Working with Refugee People and their Families (D35) and co-ordinates the Tavistock modules of the MA in Refugee Care run in association with Essex University (M35). He leads the Refugee Hub, a monthly multi agency forum offering an exchange of ideas and learning for people working with asylum seekers and refugees.

He also works for the Trust in the Whole Family Perinatal Service offering consultation to professional networks and offering brief focused family therapy as appropriate.

Nsimire Aimee Bisimwa is a Specialist Systemic & Family Psychotherapist working at the Tavistock Centre in the Child Young Adults & Families Service. She leads on refugee work in the Tavistock Family Mental Team, co-chairs a fortnightly Refugee Hub forum. She has more than 20 years of experience working with refugees and involuntarily displaced people. She is also involved in teaching in the Directorate of Education and Training at the Tavistock centre, lectures and coordinates the placement module for the Tavistock MA in Refugee Care Course run in association with Essex University. 

The content was excellent and really came to life by the ongoing use of clinical applications to practice.

Today has been nourishing and inspiring and has really helped me re-think my practice and some of the adaptations I can make.

A wide range of theoretical models and ideas were presented, reflecting the diversity and complexity of the refugee cohort. The training was also immensely practical. 

This course will be delivered remotely using Zoom. This is very easy and safe to use regardless of your level of IT skill.
You will need a device with a microphone and camera together with a suitably fast internet connection. Although mobile devices and tablets can be used, we recommend the use of laptop or desktop PC for the best experience. Some devices provided by employers may have restrictions in place. Please use this test link ( to check your set up before booking.
You will be sent joining instructions including all the necessary login links, passwords and guidance on how to use the relevant functionality about a week before the course start date.

Should you have any concerns about the accessibility of remote delivery please contact us at to discuss how we can best help you.

The course will last 10 hours in total, split over 2 days.

Tuesdays 5th and 12th July 2022

From 9.30am to 3.30pm each day


To book a place please use the green 'Apply' button on the left of your screen.

Course length:
2 days
Theoretical approach:
Psychological therapies
Admission status:
5 July 2022 09:30 to 12 July 2022 15:30
Course lead:
David Amias

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