Therapeutic Casework

Based in London, the Refugee Council's Therapeutic Casework Unit (TCU) operates a mental health assessment, referral and casework service to help meet the physical, mental and emotional needs of vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers.

The Therapeutic Casework Unit consists of health access workers, whose role is to enable clients to access a range of health services, and therapeutic caseworkers who offer culturally and linguistically appropriate short-term crises intervention through free holistic support for our clients who may suffer from a number of wellbeing issues as a result of their experiences in their home country, or after arrival in the UK. Their often complex needs may be related to distress caused by the asylum seeking process, problems with accommodation, or other practical matters as well as physical and psychological problems that may result from issues such as loss and separation, torture, rape and/or abuse.

The Refugee Council is grateful to receive grant funding from the European Union’s Pilot Project for Victims of Torture. We have two EU-funded projects, both implemented in partnership with Freedom from Torture. The first grant is for our therapeutic casework with young adult torture survivors in London, to increase the availability, quality and provision of rehabilitation services to meet their unique and complex needs. The second is for therapeutic casework services for adult torture survivors in the West Midlands.  In both projects we deliver vital services to meet the physical, mental and emotional needs of vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers.  Through this partnership, when we meet clients with particularly complex needs, we are able to refer them to Freedom from Torture for specialist services

The Therapeutic Casework Model

The Refugee Council has a unique approach, called the Therapeutic Casework Model, which combines advocacy for our clients' practical needs with counselling skills and therapeutic care. We know this is the most effective model of working with vulnerable people and provides them the tools which they can use to help them cope and a build a new life. In providing this model the Therapeutic Casework Unit works closely with other relevant organisations. Click here for information about our services.

Gifts from individual major donors and grant-making trusts are absolutely essential to allow this specialist work to expand with the need. To make a donation please click here.

Acknowledgement

We are grateful to the European Union who co-funded the Pilots Project for Victims of Torture. We have two EU-funded projects, both implemented in partnership with Freedom from Torture. 

tcu fundersThe first grant is for our (now ended) therapeutic casework with young adult torture survivors in London, to increase the availability, quality and provision of rehabilitation services to meet their unique and complex needs.  The second grant is for therapeutic casework services for adult torture survivors in the West Midlands.  In both projects we deliver vital services to meet the physical, mental and emotional needs of vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers. When we meet clients with particularly complex needs, we are able to refer them to Freedom from Torture for specialist services.

Special thanks go to the torture survivors who engage and participate in both projects’ objectives and activities. We learn so much from working with you. We would also like to thank the staff of the two partner organisations, Freedom from Torture and the Refugee Council whose collaboration facilitated effective project implementation and service delivery.

Summary

We recognised that the refugee phenomena are unique to each individual and may not always fit within the usual framework of psychological theories and interventions. Separated young torture survivors are living, learning and negotiating transitions into adulthood and independence in an increasingly complex and challenging asylum system in the UK. The young adult torture survivors project applied a psychosocial perspective and approach to support the development of the young people’s social and emotional capabilities, including resilience, communication and negotiating skills which promoted wellbeing and created a sense of community and combated isolation.

The adult torture survivors project is currently on-going, we offer crises intervention, holistic assessment, casework and referrals to Freedom from Torture for long term therapy.

As a result of the two projects, some of the following recommendations on working with torture survivors were developed:

  • That a Bio-Psychosocial assessment be carried out to meet young person’s multifaceted needs which include medical, psychological and social needs;
  • Agencies to respond in a multidisciplinary-led approach to the clients’ practical, emotional and symbolic meaning. Design interventions with the client. Use engagement in a meaningful way;
  • Collaborative work with other agencies for collective response;
  • One to one casework: Create space for empathic listening, bearing witness and validating experiences. Using Narrative as a transitional space;
  • Psychosocial programmes: Engaging in social activities to help recreate communities and develop new relationships, give them a voice, ask and listen to hopes, values and dreams;
  • Psycho-education:  Helping them to put things in perspective and providing information about the likely cause of symptoms.