Lived experiences of Bhutanese former refugee youth : coping, resilience and mindfulness infused counselling (2017)
Type of ContentTheses / Dissertations
Thesis DisciplineHealth Sciences
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
PublisherUniversity of Canterbury
AuthorsRodrigues, Nevilleshow all
This thesis explores the lived experiences of a group of young Bhutanese former refugees between the ages of 18 to 24 years who were resettled in Christchurch between 2008 and 2010 – prior to the first major earthquake. The main goal of the thesis was to gain an understanding of their ways of coping and a second goal was to explore whether their participation in up to five mindfulness infused counselling sessions had influenced their ways of coping.
A qualitative research methodology was used to guide the thesis. Participants were interviewed about the major events in their life and how they coped with them. They were then invited to participate in five sessions of mindfulness infused counselling. Approximately five weeks after their final session had ended they were invited to one final interview to explore the influence of the sessions on their ways of coping.
Interviews were recorded and transcribed and research notes were taken of the mindfulness infused counselling sessions. Max van Manen’s method of phenomenology was adopted to interpret the narratives of the youth. Three main themes emerged from the data analysis and these are described as essences of lived coping experiences. The first captures their strong sense of community back in the refugee camp. The second presents the sense of resilience that exists among the Bhutanese former refugees. The third essence indicated the inner strengths of the participants which they said helped them deal with the challenging circumstances that life cast in their direction. This meant that their first experience of an earthquake was not considered the biggest event in their lives.
After attending the mindfulness infused counselling sessions’ participants reported positive benefits from giving non-judgemental attention to their thoughts and feelings and they found themselves dealing with their issues proactively. For some participants their ‘accepting’ attitude facilitated better control over their emotions while others reported being able to form deeper connections with nature and other people as a result of being mindful. Other participants reported being able to make peace with the events in their past and even found that they were able to forgive those who tormented their community. However, in the absence of any major event in any of the participants’ lives in the time period following their final counselling session, the research was not able to definitely conclude that using mindful-based counselling facilitates better coping in the face extremely stressful events.
There is currently very little research that focuses on the experiences of former refugee youth within New Zealand and how they utilize their capacities to deal with adversities. When this thesis commenced, the Bhutanese were the newest refugee community to be accepted for resettlement in New Zealand. This research partly addresses the limited voice of this community.