Deconstructing the legal process for the immigrant population in the United States: Ethical implications for mental health professionals

Report Author: 
Florence J. Lewis, Song E. Paik and Chi-Fang Tseng
Original Date of Publication: 
June, 2017

Understanding immigration legal processes is a necessary skill that many mental health professionals working with immigrant clients lack. Florence, Paik, and Tseng (2017) offer a brief introduction to the legal processes and types of immigration aid available to clients, while addressing the strengths and stressors involved so mental health professionals can competently treat immigrant clients. The article discusses obstacles and eligibility requirements that may prevent immigrant clients from obtaining visas or immigration relief (e.g. limited financial means). Furthermore, the uncertainty that accompanies immigration legal processes or living without legal status are examples of environmental stressors that can impinge on a client's mental health. The hierarchy of immigrant status, stresses of acculturation, and language barriers can create tension and dependency, especially among families with mixed statuses. Therefore mental health professionals must understand the intricacies of immigration legal processes and the opportunities and stressors that immigrant clients face in order to effectively understand the client in the context of their environment. (Immigrant Integration Lab)

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Lewis, F. J., Paik, S. E., & Tseng, C.-F. (2017). Deconstructing the Legal Process for the Immigrant Population in the United States: Ethical Implications for Mental Health Professionals. Contemporary Family Therapy, 39(3), 141–149.

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