BSFT® Program News : 2016 : July

UM Public Health Experts Are Key in a Swedish Effort to Integrate Refugee Youth

A unique partnership between University of Miami public health experts and the city of Stockholm plays a key role in supporting the health and emotional well-being of at-risk Afghan and Syrian refugee youth who have found their way from their troubled homelands to the Swedish capital.
The transatlantic connection stems from the city of Stockholm’s many years of use of Brief Strategic Family Therapy (BSFT), an evidence-based family intervention program developed by a team of UM researchers led by José Szapocznik, Ph.D., and Olga Hervis, M.S.W., at the Department of Public Health Sciences’ Center for Family Studies.
The City of Stockholm has been a BSFT partner for the past nine years, but the extension of the program to Syrian and Afghan refugees is new.
Szapocznik and his team developed BSFT over four decades of research to target children and adolescents between the ages of 6 and 17 at risk for developing behavior problems, including substance abuse, conduct problems and delinquency. The research began with studies of intergenerational conflict that led to the development of the intervention program, and early testing and effectiveness studies. Originally used to help refugee youth arriving in Miami from Cuba, the program is now used around the world, including in Chile, Puerto Rico, and Sweden, and valued for its scientific and evidence-based foundations. The City of New York began appointing BSFT-trained therapists throughout its child welfare services in 2013.
Joan Muir, Ph.D., Executive Director of the BSFT Institute, was recently in Stockholm and toured a social services facility for refugee youth where the program is in use. “I was really amazed with the quality of the facility,” said Muir. “You could just see how generous the Swedish social services system is. The housing is so nice that anybody would feel lucky to live there.”

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