An Exploration of Syrian Refugees' Coping Strategies During the Syrian Conflict: A UK-Based Study

UoM administered thesis: Doctor of Counselling Psychology

  • Authors:
  • Raoom Qureshi


Background: The recent uprisings in Syria have displaced many individuals within and outside the country. Despite the large number of people affected by the war, little research captures their experiences. The literature in this area is predominantly of a statistical nature. This is problematic in the field of Counselling Psychology, which moves away from diagnosis to focus on individual experiences. Aim: The aim of this study is to understand the subjective experiences of Syrian refugees in the UK, particularly the strategies that have aided them in coping with these experiences. Research has indicated therapeutic benefits for the communication of coping strategies. Methodology: The research utilised a qualitative methodology, adapting principles of Narrative Inquiry. A total of three males participated in the research. Each participant was asked one opening question prior to beginning his story. Prompting questions were developed according to the content of each narrative. Each interview was transcribed and analysed in Arabic, which was the language spoken in the interviews. An inductive thematic analysis was utilised to analyse each transcript independently. Analysis: Each participant's story was presented separately, as the themes from each narrative differed from the rest. Essam's narrative was identified as consisting of five principal themes; 'Situation in Syria', 'Searching for a Better Place to Settle', 'Journey from Jordan to the United Kingdom', 'Support and Coping Strategies' and 'Feelings'. Mustafa's transcript was analysed as containing four principal themes; 'Experiences of the War While in Syria', 'Support and Coping Strategies', 'Impact of the War on Health' and 'Coming to the United Kingdom'. Talal's interview was analysed as covering six principal themes; 'Political Opinion', 'Experience of Being in the Army', 'Working to Help and Guide Others', 'Escaping from Syria', 'Life in the United Kingdom' and 'Support and Coping Strategies'. Conclusion: This research generates further understanding of the subjective experiences of Syrian refugees residing in the United Kingdom, which can inform future psychological interventions with this population. The participants' descriptions of various coping strategies that helped them with their experiences may help guide practitioners to understand potential barriers to treatment. Furthermore, cultural differences were identified which could also aid in understanding why Syrians may not attempt to access psychological support. Recommendations are suggested for working psychologically with Syrian refugees, alongside acknowledging limitations of the research and suggestions for further investigation and practice.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Award date31 Dec 2016