An initial evaluation of narrative exposure therapy as a treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder among Sudanese refugees in Cairo, delivered by lay counselors
Background: The growing worldwide refugee crisis highlights the needs for increased access to mental health services, including in the large urban cities in the Middle East to which refugees are frequently displaced and in which access to such services is limited. The current study ofers an initial evaluation of narrative exposure therapy as a treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder among Sudanese refugees in Cairo, delivered by lay counselors. Sudanese refugees with no prior background in counseling were given 27 h of training in narrative exposure therapy. They then delivered this to seven members of the same refugee community with a diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder at a local community center, and this was evaluated using a pre-post design and a focus-group with the intervention recipients. Results: Despite the small sample size, over the course of the intervention there was signifcant decrease in trauma and anxiety symptoms, and a close to signifcant decrease in depression. Moreover, the focus group participants generally spoke positively about their experiences. Conclusions: To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the frst study to examine the viability of lay counselors delivering narrative exposure therapy to refugees with posttraumatic stress disorder in a complex urban setting. The fndings suggest that this approach has promise and support the case for a randomized control trial of narrative exposure therapy delivered in this manner in such a setting.