Treating Sleep Disturbances in Refugees and Asylum Seekers: International Online Workshop on STARS („Sleep Training adapted for Refugees“) and IRT („Imagery Rehearsal Therapy for Refugees“)

Treating Sleep Disturbances in Refugees and Asylum Seekers:  International Online Workshop on STARS („Sleep Training adapted for Refugees“)  and IRT („Imagery Rehearsal Therapy for Refugees“)


9:00 - 16:30


Buchungen geschlossen

Format: Online (Zoom)

Sleep disorders are a central issue in the therapy and counseling of refugees. For those affected, sleep disorders create a high level of suffering and make it particularly difficult to cope with everyday life. Compared to other symptoms, such as post-traumatic stress disorder or depression, sleep disorders have little stigma. On the one hand, this offers the possibility of a low-threshold entry into psychotherapeutic treatment concepts. On the other hand, sleep disorders can prove to be extremely resistant to treatment in some patients. They are a constant challenge for therapists working with refugees. Our clients report very different symptoms: e.g., difficulties falling asleep and staying asleep, nightmares, brooding at night, severe daytime sleepiness, shifts in sleep-wake rhythm or various sleep-related anxieties.

In the workshop, two treatment approaches will be presented:

  • The „Sleep Training adapted for Refugees – STARS“ focuses on the treatment of sleep disorders and at the same time goes beyond previous approaches by addressing specific challenges of refugees and asylum seekers. Aspects such as a culturally sensitive understanding of the disease, difficult living and sleeping environments, existing traumas and very insecure, stressful life situations are taken into account. The manual is designed for group settings. However, some of the contents can also be implemented in individual settings (therapy or counseling). The program comprises ten detailed sessions. In the workshop an overview of interventions will be given.
  • The „Imagery Rehearsal Therapy – IRT“ focuses on targeting nightmares in a three phase intervention series minimizing exposure to trauma and actual nightmare content making the method more applicable and acceptable to a bigger portion of the patient group of trauma-affected refugees. The first phase consists of psychoeducation on nightmares and interventions targeting sleep hygiene. The second phase centers on developing positive imagery exercises and learning how to rehearse these with the help of techniques to manage intrusions. In the third phase the nightmares are rescripted and the new rescriptions are rehearsed.

The aim of the workshop is, on the one hand, to raise awareness of the issue of sleep-related symptoms in refugees. On the other hand, the exchange with our experienced workshop leaders should enable the participants to use the two treatment approaches in their daily therapeutic work with clients from a refugee background.

This workshop is funded by AMIF (Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund) from the European Commission.

Language: English

Target group: Therapists working with refugees

Presenters: Britta Dumser (M.Sc.), Clinical Psychologist, Refugio Munich, Germany and Ida Poschmann (M.Sc.), Clinical Psychologist, Competence Center of Transcultural Psychiatry, Denmark.

Cost: For free, application necessary, limited number of participants (25)

Motivational Statement: Please tell us about your motivation to participate in this workshop: Give some information about your professional background, working environment and about possible ways to use the presented interventions of this workshop in your daily work (max. 150 words)

Application Procedure: Please apply with a short motivational statement to until 26th May 2023 for a free participation. We will give feedback about participation until 23rd June 2023. Note: Criteria for the selection process will be 1) your motivational letter and 2) a balanced composition of participants from different countries.



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