First Advisor

Hess, Robyn S

Document Type


Date Created



Refugee families encounter significant acculturative and resettlement stressors as they attempt to rebuild their lives in the host country. These stressors are exacerbated by histories of trauma, violence, and loss making them highly vulnerable to psychological distress. The Somali Parent Program was a culturally specific, 8-week parent program designed to empower mothers to increase their family resilience by engaging in cultural and social exchange, adapting their parenting strategies to their host country, and learning about community resources. Ten Somali refugee mothers were recruited to participate in weekly 2-hour sessions that incorporated a psycho-educational lesson, an experiential activity, and a closing discussion. Due to the program’s open door policy, an additional seven Somali mothers attended sessions during the 8-week period. Transcripts of initial and concluding interviews, video-recorded sessions, process notes, and artifacts collected throughout the program were analyzed for themes using a phenomenological approach. The goal for this study was to understand how Somali mothers make meaning of their adjustment process and their involvement in the Somali Parent Program. The group members expressed that being part of the program increased their cultural understanding and provided them with ways to navigate their own culture and that of the host country. They also grew more aware of adaptive ways to identify and express emotions and strengthened their communication with their children. At the end of the program, Somali mothers felt more comfortable accessing community supports and resources. Finally they reported significant increases in social supports and networks as well as a newfound sense of meaning and empowerment in their lives. Somali Parent Program findings suggest that culturally specific family-focused programs that emphasize the post-migration experience may provide an effective way of addressing acculturation, adjustment, and recovery amongst refugee families.


acculturation, adjustment, family-focused interventions, parent-program, refugee, Somali


227 pages

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