How to Conduct Newcomer Support Groups for Latino Immigrant Youth

Friday, August 17 | 10:00 am - 11:00 am

Training Options Duration: 60 Minutes Friday, August 17, 2018 | 10:00 AM PDT | 01:00 PM EDT

Overview: This workshop will introduce to participants the “why and how” to conduct

support groups with Latino immigrant youth who enter the United States by crossing the border.

Many, if not most of these immigrants have similar experiences that impact their emotional and

behavioral health such as the stressors and/or traumas of their native country to include

killings, sexual violence, domestic abuse, the takeover of gang life, extortion, etc. and their

arduous journey through Central America, Mexico and crossing the Rio Grande.

The impact of being caught by ICE and being sent to a detention center also may leave emotional

scars. Once they are reunited with their families, they must adjust to these changes and to a

new culture, language and school system. All of these changes can leave a youth with limited

coping skills, heightened depression and anxiety.

These common experiences makes for conducting an immigrant support group easier and the most

efficient modality to support as many youth as possible during their transition to a new

country. The presenter will briefly cover the three main areas that impact Latino immigrant

youth: “Pre-migration, Migration and Post-migration” and how these topics are incorporated into

group activities. Once these areas are understood by the participants, they can better

understand the purpose of each activity.

For example, the first ice breaker activity which is used for bonding has each member make a

name plate with their name, country’s name and a drawing of their respective flag and they can

add anything of interest to them. This activity is non- threatening, simple and fun. Once the

name plate is complete they take turns introducing themselves with this information. The leader

can then interject other relevant questions to maintain the conversation in a positive tone.

Like in most initial groups, the leader discusses the topic of group rules allowing the members

to add or reword rules that they deem important to the group’s stability and functioning. It is

important that everyone agrees with the rules as this will set the stage for bonding as well.

Activities on acculturation, cultural bereavement and cultural differences are critical in

helping members understand and validate their longing to return to their native country and

that this is the first process of immigrating to a new environment.

Another major issue that many of immigrant youth experience is the reunification of the family.

Many youth were left behind in their native country while their parents immigrated to the

United States. They were left in the care of their grandmother, aunt or other guardians and

were reunited after a few or for some, many years. Upon arrival some youth reconnect quickly

with their parents while others never adjust and will forever feel distant from their mother

and/or father. Parents at times have difficulty understanding this process and will resent

their child for not reconnecting with them.

Parents think that a child should be able to reconnect and feel their love given the sacrifice

they made to bring their daughter or son here. This topic through various activities is

discussed in length to help the youth understand their feelings as well as their parents’ in a

process of facilitating the reunification.

The presentation will continue to review over a dozen activities from ice breakers to

understanding language acquisition, school’s code of conduct, cultural conflict with parents to

name a few and a final project where they write their personal story of leaving their country

to come to the United States. This story writing is the last activity that can last a few weeks

as they write as little or as much as they want and then once complete they have the option to

share it with the group members.

This story completes the group and in a way completes the cathartic experience of the group.

They no longer have to hide from their past and they can move forward without the emotional

baggage that left unresolved could have lead them down a disturbing road.

Different games and books that can be used in groups will also be shared with participants.

Each activity addresses and helps to resolve many of the stressors recent immigrants


As in all groups the termination process will be covered with an ending activity and awards


Why should you Attend: Are you overwhelmed with trying to provide culturally relevant mental

health services with Latino immigrant youth who have crossed the border? So many times mental

health workers who provide interventions with Latino immigrant youth notice a common thread in

the youth’s mental health assessment and maladaptive behaviors. Many face issues of PTSD,

depression, anxiety, acting out at home and/or school as well as adjusting in the reunification

of the family to name a few.

Considering this common thread, a group modality would provide the most efficient level of

intervention to reach more individuals going through the similar experiences and provide an

opportunity for them to connect and bond. For mental health and case workers who work in

schools, group homes, detention centers, etc. conducting support groups to this population will

offer the youth a cathartic experience while at the same time learn new coping strategies to

deal with their emotional baggage as well as of adapting to a new country, language, culture,

school system, etc.

Immigrant support groups provide the opportunity for the members to realize first hand that

their feelings and experiences are not unique and that many of their peers’ experience the same

feelings and at times, the same maladaptive behaviors. While conducting the group’s initial ice

breaker activities, the group members begin to bond paving the way for more in depth activities

and discussions.

It is during these moments that the immigrant youth begins to understand that their feelings

and experiences are validated and “normal.” Many have responded, “You too. I thought I was the

only one feeling and thinking this way.” Once the bonding is established these youth open up

and pour their hearts out initiating the healing process.

With increasing numbers of immigrant youth entering the United States, it is imperative that

you have additionally therapeutic skills in your professional tool box. Having the background

knowledge, group skills and unique culturally relevant activities will assist you to facilitate

such groups. This webinar will offer you everything you will need to begin a group in your

school and/or agency.

Areas Covered in the Session:

Synopsis of the three areas emotionally impacting immigrant youth: Pre-migration, Migration and

Post-migration Review of culturally relevant ice breakers and group activities Resources and Termination

Who Will Benefit: Social Workers Psychologist Mental Health Workers Guidance Counselors Case Managers and universities students in the behavioral health field of study.Those working

in the area of Immigration Advocacy

Speaker Profile Vilma E. Matos is a clinical bilingual social worker with over 35 years of experience working

with the Latino community. In the past 20 years she has been providing individual, group and

family interventions for Latino immigrant youth. She has presented on this topic to school

districts, mental health clinics and at conferences on best practices when interfacing with

this population. Her dedication goes one step farther as she has designed a board game uniquely

suited for Latino immigrants. My Journey to the United States – Mis Pasos a los Estados Unidos

Board Game© has been used by social workers, psychologists, guidance counselors and mental

health workers throughout the United states as a facilitating tool to help these youth open up

about their past and present experiences. Once trust is established, significant interventions

and healing can begin.

Ms. Matos is also Vice President of the National Association of Puerto Rican/Hispanic Social

Workers and currently works part-time as a bilingual therapist, school social worker,

consultant and presenter all in the area of Latino immigrants.

Price – $139 Contact Info: Netzealous LLC – MentorHealth Phone No: 1-800-385-1607 Fax: 302-288-6884 Email: Website: Webinar Sponsorship: Follow us on : Follow us on : Follow us on :

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