European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 447–466 | Cite as

Dealing with difference: a scoping review of psychotherapeutic interventions with unaccompanied refugee minors

  • Gwladys Demazure
  • Sydney Gaultier
  • Nicolas Pinsault


Unaccompanied refugee minors (URMs) are a population at risk for developing mental problems, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and/or depression. Therapists working with URMs often have to overcome language and cultural barriers, while taking into account these young people’s specific needs. A growing literature describes a wide range of interventions designed to reduce psychopathologies and improve well-being. We summarized the different interventions used with URMs to get an overview of techniques used for reducing psychopathologies and difficulties of URMs and to give recommendations to help professionals. We searched eight databases for articles and books, imposing no restrictions on publication date or geographical region, and using English and French keywords. We included all studies (RCTs, case series, case study) that assessed an intervention with one or more URMs. Seventeen studies, reported in papers or book chapters, met the criteria for inclusion in our analysis. Only one RCT has been conducted with URMs but because of small sample size we cannot conclude on its efficacy. Other studies are case series or case studies and because of their study design, we cannot conclude whether one intervention is superior to others. Further research, with higher level of evidence, is needed to determine which types of intervention are most effective when working with URMs.


Scoping review Unaccompanied refugee minors Psychotherapeutic interventions Psychopathology Post-traumatic stress disorder 



The authors wish to thank Mr. Quentin Rahms for proofreading the manuscript.

Author contributions

All authors have contributed equally in providing summaries of research studies, writing and approving the final manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards


No funding sources were provided for this study.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gwladys Demazure
    • 1
  • Sydney Gaultier
    • 1
  • Nicolas Pinsault
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Laboratoire Interuniversitaire de Psychologie, LIP/PC2S, EA 4145Université Savoie Mont BlancChambéryFrance
  2. 2.CNRS, TIMC-IMAG, UMR 5525Univ. Grenoble-AlpesGrenobleFrance
  3. 3.Critical Thinking Federation FED 4270Univ. Grenoble-AlpesGrenobleFrance

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