Asylum-seekers' experiences of trauma-focused cognitive Behaviour therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder: A qualitative study

Felicity Vincent, Helen Jenkins*, Michael Larkin, Sue Clohessy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Trauma-focused CBT (TFCBT) is an evidence-based treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but little is known about whether it is an acceptable and effective treatment for asylum-seekers presenting with PTSD. Aims: This study considers the acceptability of TFCBT for asylum-seekers with PTSD by exploring their experiences of this treatment. Method: Seven asylum-seekers who had received CBT involving a TFCBT component were interviewed using a semi-structured schedule. The transcribed interviews were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). Interpretative themes were developed iteratively to closely reflect participants' common and distinct experiences. Results: Six super-ordinate interlinking themes are discussed: Staying where you are versus engaging in therapy; Experiences encouraging engagement in therapy; Experiences impeding engagement in therapy; Importance of the therapeutic relationship; Losing oneself and Regaining life. Conclusions: Participants described their ambivalence about engaging in TFCBT. Such treatment was experienced as very challenging, but most participants also reported finding it helpful. Various experiences that appeared to encourage or impede engagement are outlined. These preliminary findings suggest that fear of repatriation can impede engagement in TFCBT, but that some asylum-seekers with PTSD still report finding TFCBT beneficial. The clinical implications are discussed, including the special importance of the therapeutic relationship.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)579-593
Number of pages15
JournalBehavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy
Issue number5
Early online date16 Jul 2012
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2013


  • cognitive behaviour therapy
  • Keywords: Asylum seeker
  • PTSD


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