An exploration of the adaptation and development after persecution and trauma (ADAPT) model with resettled refugee adolescents in Australia: A qualitative study

Lucy S. McGregor, Glenn A. Melvin, Louise K. Newman

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Refugee adolescents endure high rates of traumatic exposure, as well as subsequent resettlement and adaptational stressors. Research on the effects of trauma in refugee populations has focussed on psychopathological outcomes, in particular posttraumatic stress disorder. However this approach does not address the psychosocial and adaptive dimensions of refugee experience. The ADAPT model proposes an alternate conceptualization of the refugee experience, theorizing that refugee trauma challenges five core psychosocial adaptive systems, and that the impact on these systems leads to psychological difficulties. This study investigated the application of the ADAPT model to adolescents' accounts of their refugee and resettlement experiences. Deductive thematic analysis was used to analyse responses of 43 adolescent refugees to a semistructured interview. The ADAPT model was found to be a useful paradigm to conceptualize the impact of adolescents' refugee and resettlement journeys in terms of individual variation in the salience of particular adaptive systems to individuals' experiences. Findings are discussed in light of current understandings of the psychological impact of the refugee experience on adolescents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-367
Number of pages21
JournalTranscultural Psychiatry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • adaptation
  • adolescence
  • refugees
  • theory

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