Our mission is to create and implement psychometric measures that help integrate immigrant groups into host countries
GIRA is a multidisciplinary entity that includes clinical and social psychologists, researchers, career development specialists, leaders of community-based organizations, and additional members who have expertise relevant to immigrants, refugees, and others subject to forced migration. Our group includes those who have expertise in both adult and adolescent populations and who are fluent in Arabic, Spanish, French, and German as well as English. In this context we include persons with experience in psychological assessment & measure development / validation, advanced statistical research methods, public health, career / vocational development, law enforcement, and other arenas.
In part, team members' prior research has generated published work on California’s Latino, Middle Eastern & East African communities. All members also have significant experience with providing front-line / grass roots services to refugee populations.
Refugee and immigrant migrations continue to be a substantial and growing worldwide phenomenon. On-going conflicts in the Middle East, East Africa, and other locations have displaced persons and driven refugee and immigrant migrations, particularly to Europe and the United States. These facts have resulted in challenges for host countries and the immigrants / refugees themselves. Specific problems include adaptation, integrating persons into new cultural milieus, acceptance of new groups into host country environments, radicalization risks and (with the latter) public safety. While political stances vacillate, the reality of, and difficulties associated with immigrant and refugee migrations are unlikely to abate soon. Even if conflicts prompting such migrations were to be resolved, the psychosocial impact on both the refugees and host countries will be long-term. Under such circumstances, it is important to develop measured and effective ways to deal with associated challenges. In ideal circumstances, the influx of new populations can vitalize host countries with new human energy and potential. Conversely, radicalized individuals can pose obvious safety risks. As such it is essential to view humanitarian efforts and security approaches as factors in one inexorably linked whole.
GIRA's work includes the development of comprehensive inventories that assesses immigrant/refugees on essential resettlement dimensions. As such they can be used by national and international service organizations, governments (including immigration authorities), policymakers, NGOs, private sector, and other stakeholders. Specific applications include those that:
• Enhance / smooth the acculturative process (overcome acculturative and resettlement barriers);
• Develop comprehensive and individualized resettlement plans;
• Counter negative influences (e.g., extremism) through identifying prevention / diversion approaches;
• Identify and divert already radicalized individuals (with an understanding that the relationship between radicalization per se and violent radicalization is not automatic);
• Enhance immigrant and refugees’ quality of life and positive social contributions (e.g., through employability development plans);
• Research resettlement factors through aggregate data analysis that informs policy development.
• Easy to use, focused assessment tools
• Consultation & Training
• Needs Assessments and Other Community Development Projects
One of our current projects is the Successful Refugee Resettlement Inventory (SRRI).The SRRI will include multiple relevant dimensions that create an individualized psychosocial portrait of the respondent. It will be computer-scored and make interpretive comments. The SRRI’s intent is to be used as one part in an overall information-collecting effort (e.g., gathered through the standard immigrant and refugee screening process). The goal is to develop service plans based on individual needs and circumstances. As such the SRRI can help authorities and service providers reach what is sometimes called a Structured Professional Judgement (SPJ). (In our context SPJ refers to a process in which end-users systematically employ multiple pieces of information, including but not limited to SRRI results that leads them to an overall assessment). On the broadest level the SSRI will:
(1) help identify viable individualized acculturative paths for the broader immigrant and refugee population. This has the potential to foster well-being for both the host country and refugees.
(2) help identify those vulnerable to radicalization (resulting in a danger to both the broader host country population and the great majority of refugees and immigrants who are fleeing violence). This can include diversion paths for at risk individuals and immigration screening of persons who have been radicalized.
Specific SRRI dimensions will include Basic Background and Demographics, Acculturative / Psychosocial Stressors, Psychological and Behavioral factors, Resilience and Protective Factors, and Career Development.
What the SRRI Approach Is : SRRI focuses on immigrant and refugee populations. • SRRI is seen as one tool in a broader information–collection effort that aids in a process sometimes referred to as structured professional judgement. Use of the SRRI does not necessarily require a doctoral-level psychologist. But we anticipate that end-users will require initial training and some follow-up consultation by GIRA psychologists.
Computer Applications: We are designing the SRRI to be useful in many different circumstances. As such, our computer – based approach is designed to be flexible. Computer applications consider two basic dimensions: 1) a program that scores and generates a basic interpretive profile for the SRRI (in several languages) and 2) the ways / environments in which participants will complete the instrument. On the second dimension, we anticipate flexibility on the “delivery method” based on specific organizational and population needs. These can include computer-based and paper-based uses as well as those set up for large or small numbers of participants. We are also considering the literacy levels in that process.
Project Salaam was a community health & mental heath needs assessment among San Diego's Middel Eastern and East African populations. In that process it captured the most commonly reported psychological symptoms among persons who had experienced trauma, (or multiple traumas). Results supported the concept of complex Posttraumatic Stress Disoders based on symptom severity among those who had expereinced multiple adverse events.
To view the entire project, please click on the image at your left.
The Traumatic Event Sequelae Inventory (TESI)TM is an empirically developed, objective psychological instrument. It is designed to list and quantify symptoms reported by individuals who have been exposed to one or more traumatic events of the type that often lead to posttraumatic stress. Since its initial development by Robert Christopher, Ph.D. in 1995, TESI has been used with several populations and applied in the context of multiple situations. These include civilian adults and adolescents, forensic cases, US military personnel who have seen combat (e.g., in Iraq), and culturally distinct groups such as refugees from the broader Middle East / East African countries. TESI has thus shown itself to be useful across a spectrum of diverse people and circumstances. At the time of this writing TESI has been translated from English into eleven (11) other languages. These are Spanish, French, Russian, Turkish, German, Chinese, Farsi, Arabic, Korean, Serbian, and Hebrew. Each was created using standard back-translation and decentering techniques to enhance equivalence across linguistic versions. As to the measure itself, there are three basic versions: those addressing (1) civilian trauma, (2) adolescent trauma, and (3) military trauma. The original validation effort and administration / scoring manual was completed in 1996. Based on the availability of additional data, a second edition of the manual was released in 2016. For more information on TESI please visit Professional, Clinical, and Forensic Assessment, LLC (PCFA) at http://www.pcfa-tesi.us/
Joachim "Joe" Reimann, Ph.D. is GIRA’s President. He is a licensed psychologist, a Board Member (former long-time Chair) for Somali Family Services of San Diego, and a former Manager for San Diego County’s Juvenile Forensic Services. Dr. Reimann has provided direct clinical services to various immigrant and refugee groups for over fifteen years. These services have often entailed psychosocial assessments. While previously on the adjunct faculty at San Diego State University, Dr. Reimann received grant support from the US Office of Minority Health, the National Center for Minority Health Disparities, the Hispanic Centers of Excellence, and the California Endowment. His research has been published in venues such as Social Science & Medicine, The American Journal of Preventive Medicine, and the Journal of Clinical Psychology. Dr. Reimann is also a statistician and conducted measure development / validation for the Traumatic Event Sequelae Inventory (TESI). In 2012, he was honored as San Diego County’s Clinician of the Year by the San Diego County System of Care, largely for his work with local refugee groups. He has also been an invited speaker for a variety of organizations and events.
Dolores I. Rodríguez-Reimann, Ph.D. is GIRA’s Secretary. A bilingual & bi-cultural (English/Spanish) psychologist, Dr. Rodríguez-Reimann has worked with immigrant and refugee populations in a number of venues. These include private clinical practice, contracted services through Survivor of Torture International, and funded research. In her clinical practice Dr. Rodríguez-Reimann has conducted a variety of psychosocial assessments. While an adjunct faculty member at San Diego State University’s Graduate School of Public Health, she received grant and contract support through the National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute (NHLBI), the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the US Office of Minority Health, and the California Endowment. Her research on acculturation and related issues has been published in Ethnicity & Disease and the Journal of Immigrant Health. Dr. Rodriguez-Reimann also has experience with immigrant workforce development, and has provided cultural competence training in a variety of private and public-sector environments.
Harve S. Meskin, Ed.D. is GIRA's Vice President and Treasurer. Dr. Meskin has worked with individuals who have suffered trauma for the last 46 years. Aside from being in private practice as a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego, CA, he has founded several clinics and a hospital for the treatment of addictive disorders and has supervised programs for gang and violence diversion. He has also served as a special consultant to both houses of the United States Congress. He has specific expertise in the MMPI and other psychological measures. Known as an innovator in the field of psychology, Dr. Meskin has established many "firsts" in the field. He has also been on the board of the San Diego branch of World ORT, created the North County branch of the American Cancer Society in San Diego, and founded a NGO sending bicycles to Third World countries.