Tree of Life: Acceptability and feasibility with older Bosnian women of refugee background

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Nigar G. Khawaja, Kate Murray, and Shaheeda Sadeed


There is a growing awareness that mental health issues of culturally and linguistically diverse individuals from refugee backgrounds can benefit from therapeutic intervention to promote wellbeing. However, there are numerous barriers to services for these populations. There is increasing recognition that culturally sensitive and safe therapeutic and counselling models are needed, particularly for people less likely to engage with mental health services. Consequently, researchers have begun exploring psychosocial approaches, such as Tree of Life, a relatively new narrative-based intervention which uses creative and expressive tools to enhance personal strengths and resilience. This study used a qualitative methodology to assess the acceptability and feasibility of Tree of Life in a community setting with older Bosnian women from refugee backgrounds. Five women with a mean age of 72 years attended a 6-week intervention. They provided feedback at the end of each session and participated in a focus group after the intervention. Three participants were also interviewed following the intervention. Facilitators documented their observations and any issues with the intervention process. Qualitative data revealed Tree of Life as an acceptable and feasible intervention for this population and suitable for further testing. Further, participants reported that they found the approach beneficial. Implications and future directions are discussed.

Keywords: acceptability, Bosnian, feasibility, group, narrative therapy, older adults, refugee, Tree of Life

Address for Correspondence

Dr. Nigar G. Khawaja