Examining Psychosocial Adaptation with Syrians using Community Learning for Empowerment Groups
with Dr. Sophie Yohani, PhD, RPsych 
Fri. Feb. 4, 9:40 am - 10:10 am

Psychosocial adaptation in post-conflict and resettlement settings is influenced by five key psychosocial domains (safety, relationships/bonds, identity, justice, and meaning; Silove, 2013). This presentation describes the use of Community Learning for Empowerment Groups (CLEGs) to explore the psychosocial adaptation of diverse groups of Syrian refugees (N=61) revealed in our community-based participatory research (CBPR) project. Our project is founded on principles of strong partnership, co-learning, and community-driven practice to promote equity and inclusion in cross-cultural research. Using a train-the-trainer model, 7 community leaders and 4 cultural brokers were trained to facilitate 7 CLEGs in Edmonton using a trauma-informed model of psychosocial adaptation post-conflict s(ADAPT Framework; Silove, 2013). As an empowering and culturally responsive approach to research, our presentation and panel discussion will focus on key insights from the research process, specifically the establishment of community partnerships with a refugee community, recruitment and training of Syrian leaders, and running CLEGs with diverse groups.


Dr. Sophie Yohani is a professor in the Department of Educational Psychology. Her research and clinical interests are in multicultural issues in counselling psychology, participatory research methods, and the intersections of migration and mental health of refugees and immigrants in Canada. Her current research examines the mental health and psychosocial adaptation of African and Middle Eastern refugees. Dr. Yohani also engages in interdisciplinary research on the wellbeing of African/Black communities. Dr. Yohani is former co-director of the Division of Clinical Services (Faculty of Education) at the University of Alberta, and is an expert consultant for various public sectors including Office of the Child & Youth Advocate, Public Health Agency of Canada, and the College of Alberta Psychologists. As a healthcare practitioner, researcher, and advocate, Dr. Yohani’s work over the last 25 years has ranged from practice in traditional clinical settings to mental health promotion, research, and training within community and university settings. Dr. Yohani currently holds a University of Alberta Killam Annual Professorship. Dr. Yohani supervises and trains mental health professionals in Canada and internationally, including in her birth country, Tanzania, where she serves as a visiting professor.