Community building with Syrian refugee families: Coping, art & music

Presenter: Dr. Annette Dufresne, Psychologist, and Riham Al-Saadi, Client Support Services (CSS) Case Manager, the Multicultural Council of Windsor and Essex County
Date: Tues., July 25, 2017



Interaction through art and music can be effective in engaging refugee families in self-expression and communication as they navigate the stresses commonly associated with settlement and integration. Combining such activities with opportunities for group discussion concerning the stresses associated with adjustment can be a valuable aid to their emotional well-being and sense of connection to their new community.

In this webinar, psychologist Dr. Annette Dufresne and Client Support Services (CSS) case manager, Riham Al-Saadi, will discuss their collaborative work with Syrian refugee families in the Multicultural Council of Windsor’s CSS program. The presenters will discuss how art, music, and group discussion have been used to engage refugee clients and their families in creative expression, exploration and connecting, thereby promoting healing and community-building.

Presenter biographies

Riham Al-Saadi

Riham Al-Saadi, MSW, RSW, PhD Candidate, is a case manager at the Multicultural Council of Windsor, in the Client Support Services program. She works closely with Syrian refugees and refugees from other backgrounds, assisting them in their first year of resettlement in Windsor, regarding health/mental health, employment, education or community connections concerns.

Riham is currently working towards her PhD in social work, conducting her dissertation on acculturation and immigrant populations. She also currently works in private practice at Transparency Counseling Services, where counseling is offered and delivered in both English and Arabic, specializing in emotional and social issues, and immigration-related stress. Riham is also a social worker for Toronto-based, Family Oriented Rehab Services, where she provides individual and family therapy as required. She is a member of the Immigrant Youth Research Group and Emotional Competence Research group and is just starting a longitudinal study on Syrian refugees’ resettlement in Windsor-Essex. Riham has previously worked closely with immigrant populations, particularly immigrant youth, at Women Enterprise Skills Training as well as Ready Set Go.

Annette Dufresne

Annette Dufresne, Ph.D., C.Psych,  is a Clinical Psychologist in Windsor, Ontario, with over 20 years of clinical experience working with diverse client populations, including clients with a history of trauma and with various mental health issues.  She has her own private practice and has done work with a variety of community organizations. She has provided individual psychological services to refugee clients over the years, including psychological assessments and psychotherapy. 

A previous collaborative music-focused project for refugees was the recipient of a Canada Council for the Arts grant. She has presented at conferences on her work with refugees, and has offered workshops on self-care and vicarious traumatization for settlement workers. She designed and led a volunteer-based community building program geared to refugee families that incorporated the use of art and music as tools of expression and connection. The program also included language practice on topics relevant to adjustment and coping.

Annette Dufresne

Riham Al-Saadi