The University of St. Thomas

School of Social Work

Practice with Immigrants and Refugees

Practice with Immigrants and Refugees

Social Work Practice with Immigrants and Refugees

What is clinical practice with immigrants and refugees?

Clinical practice with immigrants and refugees takes into consideration the factors associated with voluntary and forced immigration. These factors include grief and trauma associated with the loss of homeland, loss of identity, and loss of family members, among others. It also includes mental health distress such as anxiety and depression. It recognizes the cultural factors that contribute to mental health among immigrants and refugees.

Why is it important?

Clinical practice with immigrants and refugees is important because these populations are on the rise in the U.S. and yet they remain largely underserved. Our nation is becoming increasingly diverse, and social workers will find themselves working with immigrants and refugees in most professional settings.  Refugees and immigrants have unique needs and challenges which can be effectively addressed by social workers who are knowledgeable, sensitive, and responsive to their needs.


Area of Emphasis in Practice with Immigrants and Refugees (AEIR) Scholars
Clinical social workers are found in myriad settings and are skilled at working with diverse populations.  SCU-UST MSW students have the opportunity to focus in a particular area of clinical social work practice through their choice of elective courses, their field practicum, and their clinical research paper.  In addition,  SCU-UST MSW students may apply to become an Area of Emphasis Scholar in one of three practice areas, including practice with immigrants and refugees.

AEIR Scholars come together with faculty, alumni/ae, and community members with expertise in work with immigrants and refugees, in a two-year program that includes:

  • Courses, course assignments and events specific to immigrants, refugees, their families and communities
  • Leadership opportunities within their AEIR cohort 
  • Field practicum that serves the needs of immigrants, refugees, their families and/or their communities
  • Clinical research paper topic related to immigrants and refugees
  • Tuition stipend of $1,000

*Students apply to become an AEIR Scholar AFTER acceptance to the MSW program.  When applications are being accepted, links to the application are found on the tuition and financial aid webpage


AEIR Scholars will take the following electives

  • GRSW 541: Resilience and Diversity
  • GRSW 626: Clinical Practice for the Treatment of Trauma
  • GRSW 628: Clinical Practice with Immigrants and Refugees

If you are interested in learning more about Social Work Practice with Immigrants and Refugees, please contact:

Carol F. Kuechler, Ph.D, LISW, MSW Program Director.  Email:  Phone: (651) 690-6719