Initiative on Social Work and Forced Migration

“There is no greater sorrow on earth than the loss of one’s native land”

– Euripides, 431 B.C.E.

Name of lab:

Initiative on Social Work and Forced Migration


School of Social Work

Subject area description:

The Initiative on Social Work and Forced Migration at the Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work aims to lead and coordinate social work and social welfare research, education, and training to improve the quality of life and well-being for internationally forcibly displaced people.

The Social Work and Forced Migration initiative serves as a virtual hub/clearinghouse for social work scholars in international forced migration. The initiative aims to develop certificate programs that recognize scholars and service providers who adhere to the initiative’s standards. Moreover, the initiative will participate in international student exchange programs, attract interested graduate students, and convene conferences. Furthermore, the initiative will participate in open-source data collection and sharing in forced migration studies. 

Current projects:

  • Project MIRACLE: Motivational Interviewing for Refugee Adaptation, Coping, and Life Empowerment
  • Creating a Welcoming Miami for LGBTQ Immigrants and Refugees (with Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services)
  • Assessing Refugee Poverty Using Capabilities Versus Commodities
  • Suicide Risk in LGBTQ Refugees and Asylum Seekers
  • Impacts of Immigration Enforcement Actions on US Citizen Children



Miriam Potocky, MSW, Ph.D., Founding Member, Principal Investigator

Mitra Naseh, Doctoral Candidate, Founding Member, Research Director

Kristen L. Guskovict, MSW, LCSW, Founding Member, Clinical Director

Maryam Rafiefar, Doctoral Student

Aaron Burgess, Doctoral Student




Recent publications:

Potocky, M., & Naseh, M. (in press). Best practices for social work with refugees and immigrants (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Columbia University Press. Forthcoming Fall 2019.


Naseh, M., Macgowan, M. J., Wagner, E. F., Abtahi, Z., Potocky, M., & Stuart, P. H., (2019). Cultural adaptations in psychosocial interventions for post-traumatic stress disorder among refugees: A systematic review. Journal of Ethnic & Cultural Diversity in Social Work. doi: 10.1080/15313204.2019.1570891           


Naseh, M., Wagner, E. F., Abtahi, Z., Potocky, M., & Zahedi, L. (2019). Prevalence and risk factors of substance use among Afghan refugees in Iran: An exploratory study. Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse. doi:10.1080/15332640.2019.1571976


Naseh, M.Potocky, M., Burke, S. L., & Stuart, P.H. (2018). Assessing refugee poverty using capabilities versus commodities: The case of Afghans in Iran. Advances in Social Work18(3), 853- 873. doi: 10.18060/21635

Full Text

Potocky, M., & Guskovict, K. L. (2018). Project MIRACLE: Increasing empathy among psychosocial staff working with refugees through brief training in motivational interviewing. Intervention: Journal of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Conflict-Affected Areas. doi: 10.4103/INTV.INTV_1_18

Full Text

Guskovict, K. L., & Potocky, M. (2018). Mitigating psychological distress among humanitarian staff working with migrants and refugees: A case example. Advances in Social Work, 18, 965-982. doi: 10.18060/21644

Full Text

Naseh, M., Potocky, M., Stuart, P. H., & Pezezshk, S. (2018). Repatriation of Afghan refugees from Iran: A shelter profile study. Journal of International Humanitarian Action, 3:13. doi: 10.1186/s41018-018-0041-8

Full Text

Ahmadinejad-Naseh, M., & Burke, S. L. (2017). They survived, we can help them thrive: Older adult refugees in the United States. Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 60(3), 189-192. doi: 10.1080/01634372.2016.1273292


Potocky, M., & Guskovict, K. L. (2016). Enhancing empathy among humanitarian workers through Project MIRACLE: Development and initial validation of the Helpful Responses to Refugees Questionnaire. Torture Journal, 26, 46-59.

Full Text

Potocky, M. (2016).  Motivational interviewing: A promising practice for refugee resettlement.  Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Diversity in Social Work, 25, 247-252. doi: 10.1080/15313204.2015.1028121