Therapeutic Casework

Based in London, Luton, Birmingham and Leeds; the Refugee Council's Therapeutic Casework Unit (TCU) operates a holistic wellbeing assessment, referral and casework service to help meet the physo-social wellbeing  needs of vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers.

Asylum seekers and refugees often present with complex needs as a result of past traumatic experiences including the after-effects of torture, rape, violent incidents, loss of family members, home, culture, lack of recognition in society, and concern about loved ones left at home or missing. Once in the host country, clients often suffer from high levels of anxiety about the complex asylum process in the UK. They worry about accommodation, money, education, access to legal advice, detention, fear of deportation or destitution and homelessness. The Therapeutic Casework Unit (TCU) offers time limited therapeutic support in the form of early wellbeing assessments, referrals and casework to address the psychosocial needs of our clients to reduce distress. We offer a crucial ‘holding’ service to help contain the client’s emotional needs and prepare them for long term therapy. Our current working model seeks to identify and work with the client’s resilience, strengths, positive assets, experience and skills acquired on their journey and coping mechanism

The Refugee Council is grateful to receive grant funding from the European Union’s Pilot Project for Victims of Torture. We have one EU-funded project, implemented in partnership with Freedom from Torture for adult torture survivors in the West Midlands. In these 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 long term services

Regional Refugee care Project  

Funded by Big Lottery fund, this project operates from Luton, Birmingham and Leeds.

Exposure to adversity, loss or separation from family members, friends, and familiar culture can significantly impact the social and wellbeing of asylum seekers and refugees. Complex asylum system and inequality in services access can all exacerbate distress and have a negative impact on wellbeing.

The project offers early identification and crisis intervention psychosocial services to adult, newly arrived or ‘end of process’ asylum seekers and refugees presenting with complex needs.
We offer holistic individual and therapeutic group casework support tailored to address individual experiences and the wider social context within the community to prevent immediate or long-term mental health disorders. We service delivery recognises and strengthens resilience and local capacities which is culturally and gender sensitised to enhance stability within the individual and community.

We engage with the asylum system, and bring meaning, perspective, relevant skills and confidence back into our clients lives.  Together with enabling them to resolve their psychosocial needs, individual barriers will be overcome and the successful transition made to full integration/participation within local communities, and thus to better life-chances.

Working within a multidisciplinary approach, we engage with other disciplines to enable a collective response to our clients multiple level of needs resulting in a more coordinated and holistic wellbeing for the client.

We are grateful to our funders:

Comic Relief Logo





Big Lottery









The Therapeutic Casework Model

The Refugee Council applies the Therapeutic Casework Model, which combines advocacy for our clients’ social needs with counselling skills and refugee care. We recognise the refugee phenomena are unique to each individual and therefore client participation is central to our work in providing them the tools which they can use to enhance the coping mechanism and rebuild their life. We also work in a multidisciplinary approach for effective and holistic client intervention.

Click here for more information about our 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.


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.