Refugee Resilience Program (RESILIENCE)

Refugee Resilience Program (RESILIENCE)


Through a partnership with First Aid Arts, an organization committed to providing arts and movement based tools and training to better serve vulnerable populations, and with the generous support of ARTCON, SEEK is working with refugee leaders and community members to address and care for the psychosocial needs of people who have experienced trauma and stress from conflict, war, or forced migration.

We utilize a strengths based resilience-focused model to facilitate the development of
psychosocial skills and brain/body integration. Rather than focusing on symptoms we draw attention to strengths, skill building, and resiliency. We focus on equipping refugees as lay practitioners with knowledge and skills to provide arts based psychosocial support so individuals and communities are empowered to meet their own needs. We believe individuals and communities heal from trauma when they experience psychological safety, the caring presence of a facilitator, and intentional arts based opportunities that promote self expression, emotional regulation, and interpersonal skills.


Refugee Resilience Program (RESILIENCE) is designed to provide arts based psychosocial support to resetled refugees who have experienced exposure to violence, loss of a family or community members, forced migration, relocation, and distress related to assimilation.


The Refugee Resilience Program focuses on the specific needs of refugee communities. Therefore, our care providers are trained to:

– Be aware of the diversity of the refugee community, associated stigma around mental health,
and how to engage cultural differences around communication, emotions, and the arts

– Provide relevant psychoeducation to refugees to help understand why they are practicing
particular skills

– Facilitate activities that meet the bio/psycho/emotional/social needs of refugees


Every activity in the Refugee Resilience program is designed to integrate the brain/body/nervous system connection to promote three objectives:

1) Emotional Regulation – As stress rewires the physiological and emotional centers of the brain, survivors of violence, trauma, and forced migration often report not being able to control their emotions. Their window of tolerance is significantly narrowed so that seemingly small events can trigger explosive emotional reactions like anxiety, fear, and anger (hyper-aroused) or flatness, numbness, and depression (hypo-aroused). The goal of the Refugee Resilience Program is to promote emotional regulation so that participants may return to the window of tolerance and begin feeling safe within their bodies.

2) Self/Family Awareness – Traumatic grief and exposure to harm often results in fragmented sense of identity and disconnection from body. Refugees report ‘not feeling like themselves,’ ‘living outside of my body,’ and ‘having no clue what’s going on inside of me.’ To manage this constant inner turmoil refugees attempt to limit their exposure to traumatic triggers by retreating from formerly pleasurable activities, distancing oneself relationally, and self-soothing with ‘numbing agents’ like drugs, alcohol, or reckless behavior. Enhancing self-awareness can be achieved through creative expression, reflection, validation, and group work.

3) Interpersonal Skills – Lack of emotional regulation and self awareness greatly limit the ability to relate interpersonally. As refugees adopt rigid mental structures to protect against upsetting thoughts they can struggle to separate their experience from others. This makes it increasingly difficult to accept difference, create safety, or embrace intimacy. Furthermore, because relocated refugees are tasked with the challenge of assimilating into a new culture, creating new and meaningful relationships can be daunting. The Refugee Resileince Program targets interpersonal growth via group guidlines, inviting the voice of each member, group activities, and reflection.

Thank you to our partners for their generous support and dedication to seeing people healed through the arts.