Theses Doctoral

The Experience of Mental Health Clinicians Working with Undocumented Immigrants from Latin America in California: Post 2016 Election Landscape

Marcus, Marina

The 2016 presidential election and restrictive immigration policies implemented under the Trump administration created a climate of heightened tension and uncertainty for undocumented immigrants from Latin America. There is a gap in the psychological literature regarding the mental health of undocumented immigrants from Latin America residing in the U.S., the largest number of which reside in California, and few studies have examined the experiences of mental health clinicians conducting therapy with undocumented immigrants, particularly keeping in mind the impact of national policy agendas that fuel anti-immigrant sentiment. Following Consensual Qualitative Research (CQR) methodology, this study gathered first-person narratives from 15 mental health professionals who work with undocumented immigrants from Latin American in California, with a focus on the effect of change in political leadership following the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Nine domains emerged from the analysis. Mental health clinicians reported that the 2016 election had a significant impact on their work, including client’s distress and the clinician’s own emotional response to the political climate. Themes in therapy following the election, challenges to conducting therapy with undocumented clients, and the risk and protective factors that were reported to have the greatest influence on client mental health are discussed. Clinical implications and recommendations for the provision of mental health services to undocumented immigrants from Latin America are offered, including a separate set of recommendations for supporting mental health clinicians who provide mental health services to undocumented immigrants from Latin America.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Verdeli, Helen
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 19, 2021