REACH Edmonton

Settling in a new country can be a stressful experience in itself but often, new immigrants have a harder road to travel in dealing with trauma from experiences prior to their arrival in Canada.

While some immigrant settlement agencies are well-versed in the causes and effects of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), frontline workers face a training gap when it comes to serving these kinds of clients.

Because of this, REACH Edmonton is hosting training for frontline workers that focuses on the kinds of experiences new immigrants may have had before arriving in Canada and how this might affect them.

The next Pre-migration Context and Influence of PTSD in Working with Newcomer Families session will be held October 28, 2015 at Commonwealth Recreation Centre.

“The main thing is to give frontline workers more understanding,” said Karin Linschoten, course instructor. “Often, interpreted from the Canadian context, their behaviour can seem like resistance. But these are usually adaptive behaviours that served a purpose in a different situation, to survive.”

It is crucial for workers to understand the trauma that can be caused by becoming a refugee and surviving a refugee camp in order to cultivate positive relationships between new immigrants and the service providers trying to help them.

Many agencies specialize in serving immigrants during the settlement process, but new arrivals will inevitably have to rely on services from organizations that do not specialize in serving families in their specific situation.

“We have a couple of immigrant-serving agencies but these families are more and more in the mainstream where there isn’t the same practical experience among the workers,” said Linschoten. “We need to cultivate good experiences for them in the mainstream services.”

Linschoten pointed out that many services that immigrants need access to cannot be offered by immigrant-serving agencies, so positive contact with mainstream services is essential.

While Linschoten has been delivering this training for years, REACH Edmonton held its first session on Pre-migration Context and Influence of PTSD in Working with Newcomer Families, May 25.

“I have a new view on the way I assess situations with some ethnic groups,” said one participant. “Never judge a book by its cover has never rung so true for me. I was able to learn how to better serve a newcomer to Canada.”

“We are offering this training so that service providers understand the issues surrounding trauma and how it continues to affect their clients’ lives,” said Lindsay Daniller, director of Community Initiatives and Development at REACH Edmonton. REACH aims to make this training accessible, affordable and concise through single-day and half-day sessions.

For more information, or to register for this and other training opportunities click here (reachedmonton.ca/page/events).