Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Name

School Psychology

Department or School/College

Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Anisa N. Goforth, Ph.D

Commitee Members

Rachel Severson, Ph.D, Greg Machek, Ph.D, Chris Fiore, Ph.D, Khaled Huthaily, Ph.D


refugee youth, resilience, humanitarian workers, forced displacement, transit in Southeastern Europe, refugee camps


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Child Psychology | Clinical Psychology | Counseling Psychology | Developmental Psychology | Multicultural Psychology | Other International and Area Studies | School Psychology | Social Justice


Almost half of the 79.5 million forcibly displaced persons worldwide are youth under the age of 18, including refugees. Refugee youth face deliberate threats across all migration stages including violence, abuse, exploitation, poor living conditions, limited or no access to healthcare and education, interrupted family structure, and discrimination. Noteworthy, school psychologists who practice in host countries face new challenges as these diverse youth enroll in public schools. During the migration stage, humanitarian workers are a primary source of psychosocial and educational support for refugee youth and their families. Therefore, the aim of this research study was to inform school psychology practice by exploring humanitarian workers’ perspectives on refugee youth’s mental health and resilience during the transit stage in Southeastern Europe. To accomplish this goal, I conducted a qualitative research study using an online sociodemographic survey, and semi-structured interviews with 12 humanitarian workers who directly supported refugee youth in Southeastern Europe. The trustworthy thematic analysis allowed to identify 10 themes of displacement-specific ecological protective factors, and 13 themes of challenges that contributed to refugee youth’s well-being. The key findings demonstrated that (1) humanitarian workers could either bolster refugee youth’s resilience or hinder their recovery from trauma, (2) participants’ responses were infused with Eurocentric bias, (3) the highest number of themes pertained to refugee youth’s distant environment) (4) refugee youth faced unique challenges while accessing public education due to family, cultural, and environmental factors, (5) and refugee youth’s individual protective factors focused on their ability to engage with the environment.



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