We theorize that mindfulness and compassion training tailored to forcibly displaced refugees will have significant salutary pro-social effects. By means of a randomized (active) control design, we will test whether Mindfulness-Based Trauma Recovery for Refugees (MBTR-R) has restorative pro-social effects on traumatized Eritrean asylum seekers. Pro-social outcomes include (i) Trust, (ii) Compassion, (iii) Pro-social inter-personal intention and action, (iv) Pro-social inter-generational intention and action, and (v) Community Connection. Because of the trauma- and stress-related mental health struggles faced by this population, secondary outcomes include (i) Posttraumatic stress, (ii) Depression, (iii) Anger and aggression, and (iv) Guilt and shame. We will use first-person (refugee experience), second-person (observer reports), and third-person (experimental behavioral tasks) measurement methods to quantify these salutary pro-social outcomes. Expected findings have implications for refugee social and mental health, for understanding how mindfulness and compassion may enable pro-social healing processes among forcibly displaced people, and ultimately for the role of contemplative science in the promotion of social justice and human rights.

Amit Bernstein, Ph.D.

University of Haifa

Convening Faculty, Grantee, Planning Committee Member, Reviewer

Mind & Life Connections