Within the United States, the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted critical inequalities affecting undocumented communities and resulting in particularly heightened stress for members of these communities. In addition to the stress associated with COVID-19, immigrants in the United States were more than ever subjected to a hostile antiimmigrant climate under Trump’s administration. Given this compounded stress, the impact of the pandemic on mental health is likely to be disproportionately experienced by undocumented immigrants. In response, a group of psychologists partnered with a leading immigrant rights advocacy organization and formed a reciprocal collaboration to support undocumented communities. A major focus of the collaboration is to foster learning, supporting members of the immigrant community to contribute to their own well-being and others in the community. Accordingly, the collaborative developed and delivered a web-based mental health education session to the immigrant community and to practitioners serving this population. The session presented the use of healing circles as a strength-based approach to building resilience and also sought feedback regarding specific features of healing circles that can enhance their effectiveness in managing distress. Survey data and qualitative findings from this study show that those who participated in the web-based program perceived the session as validating and informative. Findings also underscored the need for creating safe spaces for community members to be vulnerable about their lived experiences while promoting ownership of their narratives. We discuss practical implications pertaining to the development and facilitation of social support groups for immigrants led by nonspecialist community members trained for this role.
We describe a reciprocal collaboration between psychologists and an immigrant-led advocacy organization for the purposes of supporting undocumented immigrants in tailoring culturally congruent therapeutic approaches for fostering resilience as they face multiple stressors due to interlocking crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and antiimmigrant policies. The collaboration led to the development and delivery of a web-based session that provided immigrant community members and practitioners with recommendations for facilitating healing circles as a strength-based and culturally responsive approach to fostering peer-led social support during stressful times. Findings highlight the need for creating such safe spaces for community members to be vulnerable about their lived experiences and feel validated.
Morales, F. R., González Vera, J. M., Silva, M. A., Cadenas, G. A., Mendoza, J. G., Garcini, L. M., Paris, M., Venta, A., Domenech Rodríguez, M. M., & Mercado, A. (2023). An exploratory study of healing circles as a strategy to facilitate resilience in an undocumented community. Journal of Latinx Psychology. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/lat0000221
Journal of Latinx Psychology