The Syrian refugee crisis is a defining conflict of this generation, and the mental health toll has been catastrophic. The Beyond Conflict Innovation Lab has been working on a new handbook called The Field Guide for Barefoot Psychologists which captures and reframes the current science of chronic stress, psychological trauma, grief and loss, shame, and hopelessness in an accessible and user-friendly handbook for refugees and those working with them.
In addition, refugees and immigrant communities face unique risk for being recruited by violent extremist organizations, which exploit their vulnerability and their reception by host countries. Beyond Conflict will conduct research to better understand the essential drivers of extremism in an effort to understand what are the critical qualities that make groups “potent” for young people, and which approaches work best to provide viable alternatives. We will do this, in part, by creating “psychological geographies,” which are heat maps of psychological drivers of conflict. These maps visually represent geo-tagged data on biological indicators of trauma and stress, as well as key variables such as aggression, intergroup empathy, dehumanization, and social trust – variables that have been demonstrated as key drivers of conflict and violence.
We see this work as a model for assisting communities traumatized by displacement, migration, and historic injustice in the United States, and around the globe.