Saturday, February 24th, 2018

Archives for September 2017

Refugee Youth Programs Research Project

About the Research

The National Partnership for Community Training (NPCT) is conducting a research project on refugee youth programming. We hope to explore whether youth programs have an impact on the family’s health and well-being.

NPCT’s national needs assessment and ongoing national discussions, reaching out to approximately 3,500 refugee resettlement staff and mainstream providers who serve refugees, show the topic of refugee youth was consistently identified as one of interest and relevance. Youth programs have become critical components of refugee services, given the number of school-aged children who have been resettled and the complex roles (e.g. cultural broker) youth play between their new communities and their families. Furthermore, the unique experiences, needs, and strengths of refugee youth illustrate the importance of targeted programs and services to address mental health concerns, strengthen inherent coping skills, and foster healthy family relationships.

This project helps to address the question “Do refugee youth programs affect the health and wellness of refugee families?” The research includes a literature review of refugee youth programming and a two-tiered online survey of refugee youth programs in the U.S.

By completing this survey, you and your organization will be contributing to the national sample size of this research’s refugee-specific youth programs. NPCT will collect your responses and analyze the results to determine national trends, offer insights, and share recommendations.


Who Should Complete the Survey?

Staff members who work in refugee-specific youth programming are encouraged to complete the survey. For the purposes of this research and survey, “refugee-specific youth programming” refers to programs or organizations that:

  1. offer tailored services for refugee youth populations
  2. incorporate culturally appropriate staff trainings and approaches to support refugee youth, or
  3. serve a majority of refugee youth clients/participants/patients, but do not necessarily have a specific program.
It is not a requirement that the program only serve refugees.

Time and Incentives

The survey will collect information about program services, goals, challenges, and successes and will take approximately 15-20 minutes to complete. Your organization may be eligible for a $15 gift card* for completing a separate and detailed portion of this survey.

NPCT will invite a sample size of those who completed the first survey to participate in a 2nd online survey with more in-depth questions regarding program outputs, measured outcomes, staff training, and family-centered approaches. Those participant organizations will be eligible to receive a $30 gift card* for completing the second survey.

*Only one gift card may be awarded per organization.



Participation in any part of this research project or the surveys is optional and voluntary. Names of organizations/programs/agencies, individual or staff names, and contact information provided in this survey will remain internal to NPCT’s research team and not shared with other agencies or the general public without prior written permission from the organization or individual. The final results will be de-identified and will not tie any individual person or organization with the survey answers.



For more information about this research project, please contact NPCT at

2017 E-Learning Course: Harnessing Leadership and Resilience

In October 2017, NPCT hosted the e-learning course “Elevating Traditional Approaches to Refugee Wellness.” This course was separated into two cohorts. The first cohort, “Harnessing Leadership and Resilience,” was geared towards community leaders with current or prior refugee status. As part of this two-week, six-session course, participants worked with presenter Isabelle Darling to develop and propose projects to implement in their communities. To enhance their project development capabilities, they engaged in readings, networking opportunities, and writing exercises, in addition to reflecting on these activities with their peers.

(Click here for information on Cohort 2, “Enhancing Mental Health through Mindfulness.”)

See below for further information on the Cohort 1 course objectives and subject matter expert, as well as for links to further resources on refugee leadership.



The objectives for Cohort 1 of the 2017 course were to:

  1. Develop and build upon refugee leaders’ leadership skills to enhance resiliency.
  2. Discover how leadership skills can transform negative experiences.
  3. Explore the process of moving from maladaptive responses to past trauma (as seen in the DSM-V) to pro-social change.


Subject Matter Expert

Isabelle Darling, MSW, has over 15 years’ experience working with communities impacted by violence and trauma, specifically within refugee and survivors of torture populations. Through her experiences providing mental health and social support to those exposed to trauma, she has learned the experts in the room are always those receiving services. Isabelle Darling provides pathways to empowerment to those that have been categorized as marginalized. Through providing leadership trainings, Isabelle Darling aims to transform the labels “at-risk,” “disenfranchised,” “fragile,” “victimized” into “community leaders,” “educators,” “advocates,” “change-makers,” and “ambassadors.” She uses leadership trainings to find lessons in the trauma to guide communities to end cycles of violence and build positive community change.

Isabelle Darling’s leadership training programs include the development of a community health outreach program at the International Institute of New England in Lowell, MA. This program trained refugee community leaders on health issues impacting the refugee community, provided solution-focused resources to community health needs, and taught essential leadership skills to refugees. From presentation skills, event planning, advocacy, and community mapping, refugee leaders were equipped with the tools necessary to spread accurate and useful health information to refugee communities. Isabelle Darling has also facilitated refugee women’s mental health groups where mothers discovered how to harness the power of motherhood into everyday leadership opportunities. Isabelle Darling is currently developing an online community that will support refugees to become community leaders through mentorship, daily practices of mindfulness, physical health, and leadership skill development to enhance positive community change locally and globally.

Currently working as the clinical lead mental health consultant at the National Partnership for Community Training and a Contract Program Monitor at ACF’s Office of Refugee Resettlement, Isabelle Darling is honored to be working with phenomenal leaders within and on behalf of the refugee community. Inspired by scholar, artist, and activist Su’ad Abdul Khabeer, she aims not to “be a voice for the voiceless” but to simply “pass the mic.”


Course Content and Resources

Refugee leaders and community partners can create a free account on our LearnWorlds E-Learning site to access select course content and resources on Harnessing Leadership and Resilience.

POSTPONED: Individual Identities: LGBTI Refugees


Please note these trainings have been postponed. NPCT will be in touch with any updates.


These trainings have been postponed. NPCT will be in touch with any updates.


Webinar Objectives

1) Discuss the importance of acknowledging and supporting individual identities among refugee populations, specifically LGBTI identities
2) Explore culturally responsive approaches for resettlement staff working with LGBTI refugees
3) Describe trauma informed and LGBTI affirmative practices that service providers can incorporate

Case Study Objectives

1) Offer therapeutic approaches and recommendations when working with refugee clients who have identified as LGBTI
2) Discuss cultural nuances among refugee groups that may influence engagement and access to mental health services

Submission Guidelines*

Submit your case study today! These presentations will focus on the clinical aspects of your cases, offering therapeutic modalities and techniques. To help foster an intimate dialogue with our subject matter expert, space is limited to 40 registrants.

When registering, submit a brief description of a case example that includes working with a refugee client who may identify as LGBTI and/or face challenges related to sexual orientation or gender identity. Submission can be of a current or former client and should include the following basic information:

  • Age
  • Gender Identity/Sexual Orientation
  • Country of origin
  • Date of arrival to the U.S.
  • Immigration status
  • Housing
  • Employment
  • Client strengths
  • Client challenges
  • Client community/familial supports
  • Mental health concerns
  • Focus of treatment
  • Brief description of your primary concern/challenge

*Please avoid sharing identifiable client information (full name, alien ID, etc.) to protect client privacy rights.

Subject Matter Experts

Isabelle Darling, LCSWA

Isabelle Swan-Mae Darling is the contracted Clinical Lead serving as a mental health consultant for the National Partnership for Community Training Program. Isabelle was raised in New York, educated in Massachusetts, and currently resides in North Carolina. Isabelle has worked with refugees, asylum seekers, and survivors of torture for over 15 years. After receiving her BA at Hampshire College, where she focused on the racial identity development of African refugees, she worked in various roles advocating for communities impacted by trauma. Her passion working with survivors of trauma has brought her across the globe where she assisted behavioral health teams in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, co-organized an international conference on social development in Uganda, and served as a Case Manager, group facilitator, and Interim Director at the refugee resettlement site International Institute of Lowell. Isabelle Darling received her MSW from Simmons College with a specialization in trauma treatment. Her social work education focused on the survivor of torture experience through her work with the Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights at Boston Medical Center. Isabelle Darling is a forever student of those that face violence and choose a path of peace.

Edward Alessi, PhD, LCSW

Dr. Alessi’s research aims to improve understanding of stress and trauma among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) populations and enhance clinical practice with LGBT and other marginalized populations. His research has been published in journals such as Psychological Trauma, Child Abuse & Neglect, Psychotherapy, Psychotherapy Research, and The Journal of Sex Research. Dr. Alessi’s most recent study explored trauma and resilience in LGBT individuals who obtained refugee/asylee status in the United States or Canada due to persecution based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. He served as guest editor for the Clinical Social Work Journal’s first special issue on Clinical Practice with LGBTQ Populations. Dr. Alessi has also been recognized by Rutgers students for his teaching. He received the Outstanding Professor of the Year Award four years in a row (2013-16) and the Innovative and Creative Teaching Award in 2012. A clinical social worker since 2001, he has worked primarily in outpatient mental health and has been an independent practitioner since 2004.

Resilience among Refugee Youth and Families

The National Partnership for Community Training is pleased to present

Resilience among Refugee Youth and Families



  • Define resilience as it relates to refugee youth and their families
  • Describe community-based and family-based clinical interventions for refugee youth and families
  • Share how to incorporate resilience-based activities into overall treatment of refugee youth and families

See the link to the recording here.

See the powerpoint presentation here.

Subject Matter Expert

Suzan Song, MD, MPH, PhD

Suzan J. Song is the Director of the Division of Child/Adolescent & Family Psychiatry and Associate Professor at George Washington University Medical Center. She recently moved from the Bay Area, where she was medical director of an intensive foster care clinic and a survivors of torture community-based clinic, and has been a humanitarian protection advisor in war-affected countries for 8 years. She is a former White House APIA fellow and Harvard Humanitarian Initiative fellow, with training from Harvard, Stanford, and the University of Amsterdam. Her work integrates clinical practice, policy, and research through commissioned projects for the United Nations and has worked in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ethiopia, KwaZulu/Natal, Haiti, and Burundi with current work in Syria/Jordan and the DR Congo. She has grants funded by the Department of Defense and Grand Challenges Canada, as well as commissioned projects for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, and is focused on family-centered resiliency processes for survivors of extreme trauma.