The Intercultural Counseling Connection is a referral network of mental health professionals committed to providing culturally responsive counseling and therapeutic services for refugees in the greater Baltimore area.
The mission of the Intercultural Counseling Connection is to foster a referral network that links refugee clients in the greater Baltimore area with mental health professionals trained in providing culturally-responsive care, and to serve as a source of professional support and growth for participating therapists.
Background and Need
Baltimore is a major center for refugee resettlement on the East Coast. Between 2008 and 2012, over 5,000 refugees from 43 different conflict-affected countries were resettled in Maryland. Thousands of these families and individuals now make their homes in Baltimore city and county.
Whatever their country of origin, all refugees have experienced forced displacement and the devastating effects of conflict, including the loss of their homes, livelihoods, and social networks. The majority of those eventually selected for resettlement in the U.S. have spent years, even decades, in refugee camps, under conditions of insecurity, poverty, and violence. On arrival here, they face the challenge of adapting to a completely new environment, culture, and language. This process of acculturation often creates additional stress for individuals and families.
Maryland is also home to thousands of individuals who have sought asylum here in the U.S. because they have experienced targeted repression, violence, or torture in their home countries. The process of applying for asylum may involve months, or even years. During this time, asylum seekers must cope with uncertainty about their future, as well as with the often profound psychological and physical effects of past abuse.
Culturally-attuned mental health services can help strengthen the psychological, emotional, and social wellbeing of refugees and asylum seekers, and heop them realize their hopes for new lives here in the U.S. Therapeutic services for these clients should be responsive to cultural factors and linguistic needs, and informed by an understanding of refugee narratives of survival and resilience.
Many mental health resources are available in the Baltimore area. For refugees and asylum seekers, however, access to these services is often limited due to cultural and linguistic barriers and other fcctors. As the same time, few mental health professionals have been aware of the city's growing refugee community, or have had access to training designed to strengthen their competencies in working with this population.
The Intercultural Counseling Connection was established to help address this gap, and to serve as a bridge between refugee community members and concerned mental health providers.
Terrence Alspaugh, LCPC, is honored to be one of the first mental health providers in this new initiative. In his college years, he lived in Iran and Italy. He has traveled in Jordan, Israel, Gaza, Turkey, Russia, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Jamaica, as well as throughout Iran and Italy. At one time, he was proficient in seven languages.