Effective Professional Relationships with Migrants: Challenges and Strategies

Proceedings of the International Conference on Social Sciences and Humanities in the 21st Century

Year: 2023



Effective Professional Relationships with Migrants: Challenges and Strategies

Prof. Dr. Elisete Diogo




Practitioners are challenged to support immigrants on their social issues and have capacity of building an effective helping relationship with clients from a different culture, since an increasing trend of non-European citizens’ entries is observed in Europe. Scholars are called to offer evidenced-based recommendations and tolls.
The importance and centrality of the helping relationship in social work is historic, part of its identity and has a significant impact in clients’ outcomes.
This exploratory study is part of a larger funding project and aims to identify challenges and overcoming strategies for practitioners whenever working with an immigrant. It is based on literature review. At a second stage, empirical research within a qualitative approach will be conducted on the topic to deepen knowledge.
Results focus on both challenges and strategies to build a helping relationship with an immigrant. Challenges in social work practice increase when working with a different culture person, for example, it is likely to: having communicational problems; ignoring cultural customs; working with a third person – an interpret; handling with illegal practices; avoiding dependencyoriented help. A range of strategies are state, such as be inspired by the Relational-Cultural Theory for mutual empowerment; active listening; seeing the client as a social actor instead of his/her culture representative; the WAMBA method of Welcome, Accompaniment, Mediation, Befriending, and Advocacy; two practitioners instead of only one, and so on.
Conclusions indicate that more research and training is needed for practitioners to better outcomes with immigrants, namely on topics: professional leadership; national and international support and training on transcultural issues; migration law; trauma, counselling, and support; and interprofessional work.

keywords: migrants, transcultural relationship, professional help, social work, practice