The trauma of refugee status is particularly corrosive. It does the usual harm of devastating our own self-image and sense of permanence in the world, but it does more. It is a dislocation from our familiar domestic geography and culture, and that must wrench from our grasp all the external markers by which we know ourselves and our worth. The threat of persecution, torture, and death is aimed at a complete destabilization. The result is a complex of anxieties that add up to far more than simple suffering. If therapy is primarily aimed at the gentle exposure of one's worst fears, then what purchase can it have on this most ungentle process of becoming a refugee?
Aida Alayarian is a consultant clinical psychologist, child psychotherapist since 1986, and adult psychoanalytic psychotherapist since 1998. She has a Masters in Medical Anthropology and Intercultural Psychotherapy, with a background in Medicine. She is the founder and currently Clinical Director of the Refugee Therapy Centre.