Acculturation and Trauma:
Elder Muslim Immigrant Finds Peace and Strength in Faith-Based Muslim Counseling
Amina, Late 70’s
- Elder immigrant
- Live alone in subsidized housing
- First time seeking therapy
Amina is an older female immigrant who lost her partner in the civil war, with adult children all over the United States. She was referred by a primary care doctor, who noticed her health was declining.
She currently lives alone in subsidized housing and has excessive panic attacks at night due to loneliness. She also gets frightening flashbacks from the war of corpses or her dead children and husband she lost during the civil war. In addition, Amina doesn’t drive, speaks English, and has no community or social circle except her care providers and two relatives who lived far away and who were rarely able to visit her.
How We Helped
The faith-based intervention was vital as she’d turned to her faith for support.
- Recommended that she read the Quran before sleep, selecting certain supplications that offer protection. This increased her sense of safety.
- Suggested she listens to audio of the Quran as she falls asleep to distract her from negative thoughts.
- Reminded her that God is with her and encouraged her to actively remind herself of that.
- Modeled mindfulness, relaxation exercises, and deep breathing activities to help her better self-regulate when in distress.
- Taught her about the body’s response to trauma, how it affects the brain, and how anxiety creates a cycle of irrational thinking that alters the person’s reality.
- Focus on collective healing since this war is a collective trauma and encouraged her to connect to social programs like adult day care
Amina reported Islamic-based therapy as highly beneficial to her quality of life, improved sleep. In addition, both faith-based intervention and cognitive behavioral therapy for challenging her irrational thoughts and fears before going to sleep helped tremendously.
“Putting my trust in God and having the sound of the Quran on in the background makes me feel safe. The relaxation techniques help relax my nerves and remind me there isn’t a real threat. My night terrors are much less, and I’ve been getting better sleep.”
“I didn’t realize how tense my body was all time.”