Refugee and Immigrant Communities

Building Skills to Adapt and Cope

AIP has a long history of working with immigrant and refugee communities in the city of Boston, to help deal with some of the unique mental health challenges faced by new comers. Working with other leading agencies, such as the Refugee Trauma and Resilience Center at Boston Children's Hospital  and the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, AIP seeks to expand the quantity and quality of specialized interventions available to these communities here in Boston, throughout the the state of Massachusetts, and across the country.

Our History

Starting in 2005, AIP began a partnership with Dr. Heidi Ellis and Dr. Glenn Saxe to incorporate their Trauma Systems Therapy protocol into AIP's Connecting With Care program. This coincided with the team receiving a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation “Caring Across Communities” grant to start Project Shifa, which would provide culturally appropriate mental health services to Somali refugee families in Boston. The initiative also helped to train and support the first two Master level Somali social workers in New England.  Boston University offered a full scholarship to both Somali students and AIP’s ASPIRE hosted one of their internships.  CWC continued to work closely with Project Shifa throughout its 3 years of funding.

Dr. Lisa Baron (of AIP) developed the adaptation of TST for schools in 2007, to better serve children in a school setting, and Dr. Ellis created the TST-R adaptation for refugees within the Children's Hospital Trauma Refugee and Resilience Center in 2012 to address some of the cultural barriers to treatment in refugee communities.

In the Fall of 2018 AIP received a major grant from the United States Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to provide trauma care services to undocumented children suffering from traumatic stress.  As part of that work, we are again collaborating with Dr. Ellis to integrate our cultural broker into the Refugee Trauma and Resilience Center's TST-R trainings.  Together we are adapting and providing the TST-R trainings to the clinical staffs at two local agencies who specialize in working with undocumented populations in the state of Massachusetts, International Institute of New England and Ascentria.


  • For Providers

    We provide a variety of trainings in culturally appropriate evidence-based practices for trauma to agencies that work with refugee and immigrant populations

  • For Youth

    We work with school systems and other institutions that deal with refugee and immigrant youth to ensure that they have access to the most effective mental health care services available.

What Services do you provide?

The goal of our current work for the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). is to increase access to services at Newcomer Centers at schools; community health and mental health centers; residential programs; foster parents and family sponsors.

We do this through training and implementation support for the following best practices and evidence-based treatments:

  • Trauma Overview and Trauma-informed Practices: Training in the effects of trauma, its impact on brain development, how and when to intervene when a youth has been “triggered,” and how to create a safe environment for traumatized youth

  • Child PTSD Symptom Scale (CPSS): A standardized screening tool for identifying trauma exposure and severity of symptoms

  • Core Curriculum for Childhood Trauma (CCCT): A curriculum created by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN), consisting of experts in the child trauma field, to develop a systematic approach to learning about childhood trauma and to develop case conceptualization skills for analysis and intervention.

  • Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS): A manualized, 10-session group treatment, designed for use in schools (or residential facilities) with urban and immigrant youth

  • Trauma Systems Therapy (TST-R, TST-Child Welfare): An individual treatment for children ages 6- 18 to stabilize a youth’s reactivity while stabilizing the environment to minimize exposure to further trauma and traumatic reminders. This treatment has been adapted by Boston Children’s Hospital for use with refugees and other newcomer populations. It has also been adapted for use in the Child Welfare System.

  • Resilience Practices for Professionals and Caregivers: Trauma-sensitive yoga and Mindfulness for adult caregivers and UAC-serving professional staff for coping with Secondary Traumatic Stress (STS)