Ethics and Behavior 30 (2):83-96 (2020)

Over 50,000 youth, mostly between the ages of 13 and 17 years, migrated to the United States without familial accompaniment in the fiscal year 2018. The tripartite process of pre-flight, flight, and resettlement exposes these unaccompanied immigrant children to multiple, and often ongoing, traumatic events that can significantly and adversely impact their mental health into adulthood. However, the ethical considerations for psychologists working with this growing population, with limited exceptions, remain largely unaddressed. As more and more UIC flee their home countries due to violence, abuse, and economic instability only to experience further stressors during the processes of detainment, custodial placement, and acculturative adjustment in the US, there is an increasing need for psychological services; thus, the importance of preparation of mental health providers is increasingly significant. Psychologists must have the requisite skills and knowledge of the complex experiences of UIC, and of how these intersect with salient cultural, developmental, and systemic factors, as a means of providing competent and ethical mental health treatment. The present article highlights several ethical issues that arise when providing psychological services to UIC, with particular consideration paid to the embeddedness of UIC in various organizational entities with which psychologists will likely need to interface when working with this population. Implications and recommendations for practicing psychologists and training programs are discussed.
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DOI 10.1080/10508422.2019.1623031
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