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How to Conduct Newcomer Support Groups for Latino Immigrant Youth - Webinar

  • ID: 4577726
  • Webinar
  • 60 Minutes
  • NetZealous LLC
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Overview: This workshop will introduce to participants the "why and how" to conduct support groups with Latino immigrant youth who enter the United States by crossing the border. Many, if not most of these immigrants have similar experiences that impact their emotional and behavioral health such as the stressors and/or traumas of their native country to include killings, sexual violence, domestic abuse, the takeover of gang life, extortion, etc. and their arduous journey through Central America, Mexico and crossing the Rio Grande.

The impact of being caught by ICE and being sent to a detention center also may leave emotional scars. Once they are reunited with their families, they must adjust to these changes and to a new culture, language and school system. All of these changes can leave a youth with limited coping skills, heightened depression and anxiety.

These common experiences makes for conducting an immigrant support group easier and the most efficient modality to support as many youth as possible during their transition to a new country. The presenter will briefly cover the three main areas that impact Latino immigrant youth: "Pre-migration, Migration and Post-migration" and how these topics are incorporated into group activities. Once these areas are understood by the participants, they can better understand the purpose of each activity.

For example, the first ice breaker activity which is used for bonding has each member make a name plate with their name, country's name and a drawing of their respective flag and they can add anything of interest to them. This activity is non- threatening, simple and fun. Once the name plate is complete they take turns introducing themselves with this information. The leader can then interject other relevant questions to maintain the conversation in a positive tone.

Like in most initial groups, the leader discusses the topic of group rules allowing the members to add or reword rules that they deem important to the group's stability and functioning. It is important that everyone agrees with the rules as this will set the stage for bonding as well. Activities on acculturation, cultural bereavement and cultural differences are critical in helping members understand and validate their longing to return to their native country and that this is the first process of immigrating to a new environment.

Another major issue that many of immigrant youth experience is the reunification of the family. Many youth were left behind in their native country while their parents immigrated to the United States. They were left in the care of their grandmother, aunt or other guardians and were reunited after a few or for some, many years. Upon arrival some youth reconnect quickly with their parents while others never adjust and will forever feel distant from their mother and/or father. Parents at times have difficulty understanding this process and will resent their child for not reconnecting with them.

Parents think that a child should be able to reconnect and feel their love given the sacrifice they made to bring their daughter or son here. This topic through various activities is discussed in length to help the youth understand their feelings as well as their parents' in a process of facilitating the reunification.

The presentation will continue to review over a dozen activities from ice breakers to understanding language acquisition, school's code of conduct, cultural conflict with parents to name a few and a final project where they write their personal story of leaving their country to come to the United States. This story writing is the last activity that can last a few weeks as they write as little or as much as they want and then once complete they have the option to share it with the group members.

This story completes the group and in a way completes the cathartic experience of the group. They no longer have to hide from their past and they can move forward without the emotional baggage that left unresolved could have lead them down a disturbing road.

Different games and books that can be used in groups will also be shared with participants. Each activity addresses and helps to resolve many of the stressors recent immigrants experience.

As in all groups the termination process will be covered with an ending activity and awards ceremony.

Why should you Attend: Are you overwhelmed with trying to provide culturally relevant mental health services with Latino immigrant youth who have crossed the border? So many times mental health workers who provide interventions with Latino immigrant youth notice a common thread in the youth's mental health assessment and maladaptive behaviors. Many face issues of PTSD, depression, anxiety, acting out at home and/or school as well as adjusting in the reunification of the family to name a few.

Considering this common thread, a group modality would provide the most efficient level of intervention to reach more individuals going through the similar experiences and provide an opportunity for them to connect and bond. For mental health and case workers who work in schools, group homes, detention centers, etc. conducting support groups to this population will offer the youth a cathartic experience while at the same time learn new coping strategies to deal with their emotional baggage as well as of adapting to a new country, language, culture, school system, etc.

Immigrant support groups provide the opportunity for the members to realize first hand that their feelings and experiences are not unique and that many of their peers' experience the same feelings and at times, the same maladaptive behaviors. While conducting the group's initial ice breaker activities, the group members begin to bond paving the way for more in depth activities and discussions.

It is during these moments that the immigrant youth begins to understand that their feelings and experiences are validated and "normal." Many have responded, "You too. I thought I was the only one feeling and thinking this way." Once the bonding is established these youth open up and pour their hearts out initiating the healing process.

With increasing numbers of immigrant youth entering the United States, it is imperative that you have additionally therapeutic skills in your professional tool box. Having the background knowledge, group skills and unique culturally relevant activities will assist you to facilitate such groups. This webinar will offer you everything you will need to begin a group in your school and/or agency.

Areas Covered in the Session:

Synopsis of the three areas emotionally impacting immigrant youth: Pre-migration, Migration and Post-migration
Review of culturally relevant ice breakers and group activities
Resources and Termination
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  • Vilma E. Matos Vilma E. Matos,


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  • Social Workers
  • Psychologist
  • Mental Health Workers
  • Guidance Counselors
  • Case Managers and universities students in the behavioral health field of study.Those working in the area of Immigration Advocacy
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