GUUS VAN DER VEER AND ADELINE VAN WANING
Most experienced psychotherapists will agree with the assumption that psychotherapy is more likely to be successful if the client feels safe with the therapist, within what we will call the "safe therapeutic sanctuary." This chapter will examine the ingredients necessary for making a safe therapeutic sanctuary for asylum seekers and refugees. Working with this specific category of traumatized people, who have been uprooted from their familiar cultural environment, brings specific challenges. Because many of them live under unfavorable conditions and in a social environment that often is not exactly welcoming, there are added difficulties in creating an atmosphere of safety during the therapeutic sessions.
We will describe safety as the result of an interaction between psychotherapist and patient, in which, next to the psychotherapeutic strategies and techniques that the therapist is applying, his or her attitude of understanding, empathy, and compassion are important ingredients.
After a literature review on the need for safety, different aspects of the safe therapeutic sanctuary will be explored. First, we will discuss how safety can be created by explanation of the therapeutic procedure (safety through understanding), by enhancing one's abilities for being a safe therapist, by dealing with differences in cultural meaning and
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Publication information: Book title: Broken Spirits: The Treatment of Traumatized Asylum Seekers, Refugees, War and Torture Victims. Contributors: John P. Wilson - Editor, Boris Drozdek - Editor. Publisher: Brunner-Routledge. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 2004. Page number: 187.
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