Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)


Social Work

First Advisor

Pa Der Vang


Social Work


Evidenced by the multitude of literature across disciplines, attachment theory has ignited one of today’s most prolific lines of research. Attachment Theory’s core themes of security, separation, and loss apply well into the common experience of immigrants and refugees who have dealt with these issues in their immigration experience. Consistently, studies have shown that separation and traumas before, during, and after the migration journey have been identified as potential predictors for serious psychological distress and mental health problems among immigrants and refugees. Given the profound implications from recent studies, there exists limited research on how migratory separation affects attachment. Thus, the goal of this exploratory research was to examine the variables of separation and attachment by using both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies to investigate mental health professionals’ perspectives on the impact of separation due to immigration on attachment related issues among Southeast Asian clients. Further, to gather mental health implications and recommendations on culturally sensitive practices. The sample was comprised of fourteen mental health professionals who work predominantly with Southeast Asian immigrant and refugee populations. The participants provided insightful observations on the complex relationship between attachment and separation due to immigration among Southeast Asian diaspora populations. Most notably, they described common challenges, Eastern cultural lens of attachment, and offered intervention recommendations for working with this client populations. This study brings awareness to mental health professionals everywhere of the multifaceted effects separation can have on immigrant and refugees’ well-being and to call for appropriate interventions to assure effective, ethical, and adequate service for this growing populations in our nations and in the Twin Cities metro area.

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