Seeing “RED” to Serve Students: An Example of Advocacy for Counseling Services for Refugee and Immigrant Adolescents

  • Lisa Hoffman Indiana University Southeast
  • Shifa Podikunju-Hussain Indiana University Southeast
  • Melissa Fry Indiana University Southeast
Keywords: acculturation, immigrants, adolescents, education


The purpose of this study was to examine to what extent a U.S. newcomer school for adolescent English language learners lacked adequate mental health services for immigrant students. School counseling professionals at this school sought data to advocate for additional mental health professionals without asking inappropriately invasive questions about family legal immigration status. Leveraging the expertise of school administrators, refugee resettlement experts, and university researchers yielded a creative method for collecting student demographic information without violating student privacy. Looking specifically at refugee students from high-conflict backgrounds (the “refugees likely to have experienced distress” or “RED” variable) allowed researchers to pinpoint psychosocial acculturation differences in comparison with other immigrant students. A survey of students revealed differences in reported attitudes toward school and perceptions of discrimination among refugees from high-conflict backgrounds compared to other immigrants and refugees from lower-conflict backgrounds. Findings also supported the notion that immigrant students were likely to have experienced trauma prior to enrolling in this school. Results of this engaged scholarship allowed the resident school counselor to advocate effectively for a full-time mental health counselor position for newly arrived secondary students.
How to Cite
Hoffman, L., Podikunju-Hussain, S., & Fry, M. (2018). Seeing “RED” to Serve Students: An Example of Advocacy for Counseling Services for Refugee and Immigrant Adolescents. Journal for Social Action in Counseling & Psychology, 10(1), 38-61.