Refugees report several mental health challenges associated with pre-, peri-, and post-flight conditions. Some of these challenges include fear, anxiety, hypervigilance, hyperarousal, and nightmares—symptoms that could meet the diagnostic criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Despite these challenges, some refugees also report psychological growth with nomenclature like post-traumatic growth, resilience, and benefit-finding. This study examined the directional relationship among war-related events, optimism, PTSD, religious commitment, and growth. Prior studies in traumatized samples have demonstrated that PTSD and growth can occur concurrently, while optimism and religiousness may enhance growth. The hypotheses undergirding this study posited that participants in this non-Western population could demonstrate concurrent PTSD and growth, while those with higher levels of optimism and religiousness would exhibit increased levels of growth compared to those with lower levels. For a sample of 444 former refugees, hypotheses were theoretically modeled to identify whether the data fit the model. Inspection of fit indices provided support for the hypothesized model. Implications for professional counselors are included and recommendations for future research are provided.
The United States has recently seen a significant increase in the number of unaccompanied minors from the Northern Triangle of Central America (i.e., El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala). These children and youth are refugees fleeing extreme poverty and gang violence. This study examined the narratives of 16 refugees from the Northern Triangle who arrived in the United States as unaccompanied minors. In particular, the purpose of this study was to gain awareness of the journey experienced by unaccompanied refugee minors from their countries of origin to the United States. Thematic analysis was used to analyze the participants’ narratives, and three primary themes emerged: (a) reasons for leaving Central America, (b) journey to the United States, and (c) life in the United States. Implications for counselors and areas for future research are discussed.