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The Road to Resilience: Part 3

How Immigrants Adapt with Support from our Counseling Center: The Invisible Load

Written by Sonnie Mwangi, Mental Health Counselor & Christine Cummings, Director of Counseling Center

Counselors understand that refugees and other immigrants carry more than the physical weight of their luggage when they arrive. There is an invisible load they carry of all that they have left behind. While they want to live in the present, some are haunted by their past lives. They are here but they are not fully detached from the instability in their home countries. This separation from family takes a toll. Some experience feelings of guilt for being physically safe while their loved ones are not. Many experience emotional distress while exhibiting signs of depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

We walked with a client named *Jasmin through some of these challenges. Jasmin was referred to us due to experiencing intense post-traumatic symptoms. These symptoms showed up in her life with feelings of constantly living on edge. She struggled to maintain focus and experienced flashbacks triggered by loud noises at work. These symptoms made it impossible for her to have consistent sleep and eventually she was unable to go back to work.

Engaging in weekly therapy sessions, Jasmin learned to understand the origins of her symptoms and how to manage them. As a result, her sleep has significantly improved, and she has been able to return to work. While her symptoms still arise occasionally, they are no longer as frightening now that she has learned to understand and cope with them.

Everyone can identify with facing challenges and experiencing change in life. We hope that this series has opened a door into the challenges and changes that refugees and other immigrants overcome, and the work happening in our counseling center as we walk with each person in their unique journey. By promoting psychological well-being and providing tools for processing change, counseling plays a crucial role in helping immigrants build fulfilling lives in their adopted countries. Will you support a refugee in their journey today?

*names changed for privacy

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