Relational Upheaval During Refugee Resettlement: Service Provider Perspectives. By: Tlapek, Sarah Myers; Monk, J. Kale; White, Cheyenne. Family Relations. Oct2020, Vol. 69 Issue 4, p756-769. 14p.

Objective: We seek to provide insight on intimate relationships and service provider response for refugees during the resettlement transition in the United States.

Background: Refugees resettling in the United States face numerous stressful transitions that could affect their relationships with intimate partners. Thus, refugees may be at risk for increased relationship upheaval, yet typical options for support are limited by migration and a potentially unsupportive political climate. Frontline service providers may be able to offer support, but we know little about the relationship challenges refugee couples face and how service providers might help clients navigate these experiences.

Method: The study team observed a refugee women’s health promotion support group (n = 7) and conducted interviews of a purposive sample of refugee‐serving social service providers (n = 16) with varying roles in the resettlement process. Data were analyzed using thematic analysis.

Results: Results indicate that refugee‐serving providers have opportunities to observe relationship upheaval during the resettlement process including general disagreements and distress, as well as the potential for conflict escalating to aggression in rare cases; in other cases, resettlement may enable refugee couples to negotiate new ways of relating to each other in a new setting. Providers also become involved in clients’ relational lives and give assistance in various ways, including educating clients on gender norms and conflict resolution; however, the levels of provider preparedness and training vary.

Conclusion: Frontline providers are exposed to relationship upheaval in refugee clients, although these needs may be presented as requests for advice on practical decisions (e.g. childcare, bank accounts, and property ownership). These decisions have important long‐term consequences not only for relational growth but for protection against future tension; therefore, this is a critical period for provider intervention.

Implications: Service providers in resettlement agencies, particularly frontline workers, should be trained to identify and respond to relationship upheaval, including being taught to recognize signs of abuse and being aware of options for safety planning and professional support