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WAFCA-CE Oct. 4, 2019 Making the Connection: Effectively Engaging Refugee and Immigrant Communities in Treatment and Service Delivery
Waukesha County Technical College
800 Main Street
Pewaukee, WI 53072
United States

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Friday, October 04, 2019, 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM CDT
Category: WAFCA CE Training

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Making the Connection: Effectively Engaging Refugee and Immigrant Communities in Treatment and Service Delivery

Our work with children and families requires us to meet people where they are and to seek understanding. We receive their stories and honor their strengths and their capacity to survive and ideally thrive in unfamiliar surroundings.

Whether our daily work connects us directly with immigrant and refugee families, or not, it is important to grow in our understanding of the trauma and challenges faced by displaced people, who may carry past trauma from their previous homeland, and certainly face the ongoing stress of an unfamiliar culture and an uncertain future. In some ways, their experience is not unlike the other displaced and disempowered populations that we serve – children removed from their families, women seeking shelter from domestic violence, those with addictions who have lost connection to family and friends.

The refugee and immigrant experience often includes circumstances that disrupt cultural norms and reduce natural and familial supports.  Collectively, these may cause a loss of identity and distrust in government or larger systems.

This workshop will provide an overview of the status of immigrant and refugee populations in Wisconsin, and an understanding of the similarities and differences in the experiences both culturally and legally that various new arrivals face. The majority of the day will use presentations and small group work to learn various therapeutic strategies for engaging with immigrant and refugee clients and addressing their trauma. The day will conclude with a panel discussion regarding resources for continuing to grow our awareness of the policies and practices in our communities that either support or further isolate immigrant and refugee families.

Learning objectives:

  • Learn basic demographic information about refugee and immigrant populations in Wisconsin and how their challenges may differ depending on their legal status, culture of origin, reason for relocating, etc.
  • Identify the different legal/cultural challenges facing refugee, documented and undocumented families.
  • Understand approaches for assessing mental health and trauma-related symptoms.
  • Consider evidence-based therapeutic strategies for engaging with immigrant and refugee clients and identify skills to promote effective engagement and to build on individual and family strengths/resiliencies.
  • Learn how to access supportive resources for families, including how to stay current in federal/state/local policies and practices and issues that impact the ability of our immigrant and refugee neighbors to openly engage with formal government systems.

 About the Presenter:

Dr. CohenS. Michele Cohen, PhD, LPC, LCPC, (pictured at left) is a Licensed Professional Counselor who maintains licenses in both WI and IL.  In the past 28 years she has worked with individuals, children, adolescents and families who fight the stigma of mental illness, trauma storied lives and adjustment challenges in multiple settings. 

Dr. Cohen has been providing clinical oversight, supervision and administrative leadership for the past 18 years and has been an adjunct instructor at Mount Mary University in the MS Counseling Program since 2012.  She is the President/Owner of Choice Consulting & Counseling Services, LLC and currently serves as a psychiatric consultant for Silver Spring Community Nursing Centers. She also serves as Behavioral Health Program Directors for Bread of Healing Free Clinic in Milwaukee.Dr. Sebastian Ssempijja

Sebastian Ssempijja, PhD (pictured at right) is the co-owner and clinic director of Sebastian Family Psychology Practice, LLC. Dr. Sebastian received his Ph.D. at Marquette University and is a child and family psychologist. He has over 25 years of experience in serving diverse client groups. These include refugees & asylees from Africa, South East Asia, the Middle East, former Russian Soviet Union, as well as children, youths, and families distressed by poverty and inner-city suburban pressures. He consults with Head Start programs, youth serving agencies, schools, as well as grassroots programs serving the underprivileged and immigrants. He is involved in many community service and education activities.

Mary Flynn (pictured at left) has been with Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan for more than 25 years, joining Refugee Resettlement Program in December 2009.  Mary’s work includes hosting medical and pediatric resident on-site visits; presenting Refugee 101 overviews to local, county, state and national groups; and conference presentations for HMOs, ACA Assisters and Navigators, public health departments, educators, mental health providers, congregations, faith communities and leaders.  Mary has appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio, Milwaukee Public Radio and Wisconsin Public Television.  She was a plenary speaker at the Our City of Nations Conference in Milwaukee in 2015. Mary strives to follow the LSS tenets of valuing the individual, diversity, interdependence, excellence and innovation. She strives to maintain humor in the workplace and humane workloads for staff.






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WAFCA has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider. ACEP No. 6778. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. WAFCA is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs.




Contact: Rachel Kruse, WAFCA Event Coordinator, [email protected], 608.257.5939