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Mission Statement

Many refugees and asylum seekers who come to this country have witnessed and experienced human rights abuses, including violence, humiliation, persecution, torture and imprisonment, as well as loss and displacement. The Refugee Therapy Centre (RTC) was established in 1999 in response to a growing need for a specialist therapeutic service for refugees and asylum seekers which respected and worked with individuals’ linguistic and cultural needs. We offer individual, group, couple and family therapy based on an assessment of each individual’s needs.

The Centre was set up with the aims of:

· Helping refugees feel empowered to deal with their psychological distress by offering a culturally and linguistically sensitive therapeutic service. Providing a creative, supportive and containing environment in which people who have endured considerable trauma are better able to understand their feelings and experiences. 

· Helping to ease the demanding and intricate processes of adaptation many refugees have to face. Providing a safe, supportive space in which people can rediscover their abilities and regain their confidence to be active members of society. 

· Giving priority to children, young people under 25 and their families, and those who have been in the UK for less than 10 years. 

· Providing initial training for refugees working for the Centre in psychotherapy, counselling, administration or other skills useful in the organisation, to encourage re-entry into the job-market and society in general.


Our Services

We use Psychotherapeutic techniques at The Refugee Therapy Centre, click the button below to find out more about this form of therapy.

Experiences endured by refugees are often traumatic, and can seriously affect mental wellbeing. Based on an assessment of individual need, we offer:

Individual Therapy

One on one therapy for individuals that need support with their mental health, addressing things like the loss and separation that may have endured, survivors guilt, the loss of our home and community, adapting to a new environment and way of life, and learning new languages.

Child and Adolescent Therapy

Traumatic experiences can make a young persons thoughts and feelings very overwhelming. This can present in unconscious and non-verbal ways, and even take years to express, the ways trauma can affect young people are memory impairment, loss of concentration and developmental skills and emotional/behavioural problems. We believe that reaching children and families early on in this emotional process, we can help relieve suffering and difficulties later on in life can be prevented.

Family Therapy

Parenting can be a real challenge, and some parents may want to talk about concerns for their child, or problems facing the whole family. Parents may want to bring their child to meet one of our therapists to arrange help for the child, or receive help for the family unit.

Couple Therapy

The process of becoming a refugee or asylum seeker can contribute to marital or relationship difficulties. Stress and blame is often projected onto the partner, and mental health issues can make relationship issues difficult to solve alone. We work with couples to give them a space to communicate their thoughts and feelings, and the therapist will guide the couple through origins of relationship difficulties.


We recruit mentors from UCL medical school to run our mentoring project, which aims to provide language support to clients, and help children with school work. Language and education is fundamental to ease the process of integration. Mentoring sessions are run as a group, which is a great way of increasing social participation, and provides clients with help with English language conversation, understanding letters and forms, and support with homework and education for young people. While mentoring sessions are not therapy, they provide essential social, language and cultural support that is incredibly important for both integration and wellbeing.

If you would like to know more, or set up an assessment, please contact The Refugee Therapy Centre. We take referrals from mental health professionals, refugee community organisations, GPs, social services and schools. Individuals can also get in touch independently and speak to an assessor about their needs.

The Team

Volunteers are assigned specific roles, ranging from fundraising, administration and research, to interpreting, befriending clients and mentoring refugees seeking employment or career advice. The Refugee Therapy Centre also has an incredible board of trustees and management committee, and patrons. Below are just some of these amazing people, past and present!

Board of Trustee’s and Management Committee

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Aida Alayarian with Josephine Klein Found the Refugee Therapy Centre, and served as CEO, Clinical Director and training Programme leader until March 2017. She remains as a Trustee and involve with training. Aida is a chartered consultant clinical psychologist, specialising as a paediatric psychoanalyst and child psychotherapist since 1986, and adult psychoanalytic psychotherapist since 1998 with background in medicine. Over three decades, Aida has worked with children, young adults and families in multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural settings in the statutory and voluntary sectors. Prior to RTC, she worked for seven years at NAFSIYAT, and for period managed children and family referrals. She was Head of Therapy Services and Chair of Fostering and Adoption panel at the Childcare Co-operative. Aida served at the NHS at South London & Maudsley NHS Trust and the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trusts. She is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, a honorary fellow of the UKCP and an A. Fellow of the British Psychological Society. She sat on the executive board of the UKCP-CPJA as Treasurer for two years and as acting Chair for another two years. She is a member of the World Association of Cultural Psychiatry (WACP) and since 2012 she has sat as the Chair of the Special Interest Group (SIG) in Psychotherapy of the WACP. 

After thirteen years of offering one year Foundation course in psychodynamic theories as they apply to working with refugees and other people who have endured extreme trauma, Aida developed, and until 2017, was the Programme Leader of a four year professional training and MA course with the University of East London as well as the Professional Doctorate in Intercultural Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy in partnership with Queen Mary University of London (QMUL). See Aida’s publications here.

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Professor of Neuroscience, UCL, London, UK.

Francesca is a neuroscientist at UCL, where she conducts research and teaching, with a specific focus in brain development. She has developed a passion for the processes underlying the development of the brain during her undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences in Naples, Italy. She moved to UCL, London, in 1997 to undertake her PhD and post-doctoral work in Prof John O’Keefe’s laboratory (Nobel Laureate 2014).  Francesca set up an independent research group in 2008 in the UCL Department of Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology where to study brain circuits important for memory and spatial navigation. She recently joined the UCL Institute of Child Health and Great Ormond Street Hospital, in an honorary capacity, to undertake research in clinical paediatric populations, in the group of Prof Faraneh Vargha-Khadem. 

Alongside her passion for neuroscience, Francesca have always had an interest in mental health provision, and have volunteered for several organisations both in the UK and abroad, including the Refugee Therapy Centre, where she have been a mentor a few years ago.

RAMIN RIAHI - Treasurer

Ramin is a graduate of Economics from Bristol University. Since leaving University in June 2017, he has worked in a number functions of Investment Banking, at institutions such as J.P. Morgan and Societe Generale. He hopes to bring his passion for numbers and experience in the financial industry to the Refugee Therapy Centre as Treasurer. Ramin has been involved in charity work for many years, volunteering at Mary Curie Cancer Care during his early time at school through Duke of Edinburgh schemes, and also becoming a leader of Amnesty International at school and remaining heavily involved throughout his time at University. He is also an avid musician, a pianist for over 15 years, footballer, qualified Scuba diver and poker player.



 Vida is a chartered psychologist. She is Kurdish from Iran. She has years of experience living and working beyond borders in several countries beyond Iran, namely in India, Iraq, Pakistan and Kurdistan. Before moving to London permanently Vida worked as a senior lecturer in Department of Psychology in Erbil University in Kurdistan. As a lecturer Vida, observing the students’ struggles to achieve their potentials, she volunteered to set up students counselling service helping students who have been experiencing traumatic events prior, during and after war in Iraq on a voluntary basis.  Within short period the suicides and other psychological issues in students struggling decreased. As the result, the university sought funding and set up students counselling clinic at the university as well as developing outreach programme to help families outside university. Now, living in London Vida is pleased to join the RTC Board of Trustees and Management Committee as a place to keep helping people in need. Vida is interested in sport and professional mountain climbing. She was the first Kurdish woman climbing Himalayan Mountain as an Iranian national team. She is the founder of students association of her university during her B.A study, and since her student life keeps her social and clinical activity to help those in need.



 Jenny Manson born in Harpenden Herts, has a Degree in History from Oxford. For 35 years she worked as a Tax Inspector plus several odd jobs when the kids were small and the civil service didn't offer part time work.  She did various short terms and went back to the Revenue in the mid-1980s. Jenny was Parliamentary Candidate for the Labour Party in 1987, Local Labour Councillor in Barnet 1986 to 1990, School Governor on several schools in 1980s/1990s and chair of Save the Children in Barnet.  She supported various refugee charities and had given personal support to an asylum seeker from Sierra Leone for the last ten years:  this young woman now has the right to remain. Currently, Jenny is Chair of the Board of Trustees for Barnet Carers Centre. She is Co-chair of Jewish Voice for Labour and a lobbyist for Jews for Justice for Palestinians. Jenny has edited two books;  What it Feels Like to be Me, and  Public Service on the Brink. 


Zubeyde Arabaci was born in Turkey. She studied psychological counselling and guidance. As the result of involving in political campaign for human right, she was persecuted. She had to leave and became refugee in 1999. She joined to RTC as a volunteer and student on the introductory course and very soon she takes the position of the Community Development Worker and also Mentoring project Coordinator. Besides her individual clients, Zudeyde with other colleagues set up the Story Telling Women Group with the aim to support participants to improve their language skills, to break isolation, to build new social contacts with society and to feel empowered and regain their self-esteem. Zubeyde currently is coordinating the counselling service in educations.



Mr Jeremy Corbyn - MP

Jeremy has consistently been elected M.P for Islington North since 1983, and in the most recent election on 7 May 2015 he won 29,659 votes, taking 60.2% of the vote. Prior to his election to Parliament, Jeremy was an elected Councillor in the London Borough of Haringey from 1974 to 1983. Jeremy is the Vice-Chair of the Parliamentary Human Rights Group and Vice-Chair of the Western Sahara Group (APPG). His national profile is based on his actions against poverty, and in support of social security, environmental and human rights questions both at home and internationally. He has a weekly column in The Morning Star. A long-time supporter of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, he is one of its three vice-chairs. He was opposed to the Iraq war and has spoken at many anti-war rallies in the UK and abroad. He is an elected member of the Stop the War Coalition Steering Committee.

As MP Jeremy is sponsored by the UNISON Trade Union, and is a committed anti-fascist having spoken at the Unite Against Fascism and Barking and Dagenham TUC anti-British National Party rally and calling for no platform for the BNP. As a member of the National Council of CND Jeremy has spoken at, and attended, human rights and peace conferences including Beijing, New Delhi, UN/Geneva. He has had significant involvement in campaigning against miscarriages of justice. He has campaigned hard for decent pension provision for all, against racism, and on the major issues affecting his constituents, especially unemployment, housing, disability and low pay.

He attends the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva on a regular basis.

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Professor Eva Hoffman

Born in Poland in 1945 to Holocaust survivor parents, writer Eva Hoffman is the author of several books, including the widely regarded Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language and most recently, Shtetl: The Life and Death of a Small Town and the World of Polish Jews.

Having received a Ph.D. in English and American Literature from Harvard, Eva Hoffman has been a professor of literature and of creative writing at several institutions including Columbia, the University of Minnesota, and Tufts; she was an editor and writer at The New York Times from 1979-90, serving as senior editor of "The Book Review" from 1987-90. In her newest book, "After Such Knowledge," she addresses what the Holocaust means to the second generation, children of survivors. In 1959 during the Cold War, after her Jewish parents survived the Holocaust by hiding in the Ukraine, the thirteen year old Eva, her nine year old sister and her parents immigrated to Vancouver, Canada. Upon graduating from high school she received a scholarship and studied English Literature at Rice University, Texas in 1966, then went on to study at the Yale School of Music from 1967 to 1968, and then Harvard University where she received a Ph.D. in English and American literature in 1974.

Eva has been a professor of literature and creative writing at various institutions such as Columbia University, University of Minnesota, and Tufts. From 1979 to 1990, she worked as an editor and writer at the New York Times, serving as senior editor of "The Book Review" from 1987 to 1990. In 1990, she received the Jean Stein Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and in 1992, the Guggenheim Fellowship for General Nonfiction, as well as the Whiting Writers' Award. In 2000, Eva was the Una Lecturer at the Townsend Centre for the Humanities at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2008, she was awarded by the University of Warwick. Eva leads a seminar in memoir once every two years at part of CUNY Hunter College's Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing.

Professor Roland Littlewood

Roland Littlewood is a Professor of Anthropology and Psychiatry at the University College London Centre for Medical Anthropology. He was the winner of the Welcome Medal for Anthropology as applied to Medicine, and the Wilde Lecturer in Natural Religion, Oxford 1998-1999, and has had numerous other honours. Roland is the author of a number of important publications including the standard Littlewood and Lipsedge (1982) Aliens and Alienists: Ethnic Minorities and Psychiatry and Littlewood and Kareem (1992) Intercultural Therapy: Themes, Interpretations and Practice.

Mr Claude Moraes - MEP

Claude Moraes was elected to the European Parliament for London in 1999 and again in 2004 where he led the London List of candidates. He was one of the first Asian MEPs and London's first ethnic minority MEP. Claude was previously Director of JCWI, the national migration and refugee charity and Chief Executive of the Immigrants' Aid Trust. Before that, he was a national officer at the TUC, a representative to the European TUC in Brussels, House of Commons adviser to MPs John Reid and Paul Boateng, and a CRE Commissioner. With a legal background, he has campaigned and written widely on human rights issues including recently co-authoring the 'Politics of Migration' (Blackwells). In the European Parliament he is Labour spokesperson on Employment and Social Affairs and a member of the Justice and Home Affairs Committee.

Peter Stefanovic

Peter is a high profile Lawyer, No bullshit Journalist, blogger, campaigner, Labour supporter and Political and Social Commentator with a social media following of more than 100,000 and a weekly post reach of 3 million. He is a former Partner at Simpson Millar LLP where he was heralded as one of the UK's most successful Clinical Negligence Lawyers. Peter is cited in the Legal 500 as a leader in his field and was nominated for Legal Personality of the Year in 2016. He is a member of both the Law Society and AVMA specialist Panels. In 2015 Peter turned the NHS debate on its head by crossing the Court room floor to stand with Junior doctors in a contract dispute with the Government which Peter argued was unfair and unsafe. He is a champion for social Justice and the NHS. He is a weekly columnist in THE WORD Newspaper and regularly appears on television and radio (Sputnik, LBC, talk radio, THE WORD TV and Radio). His video reply to Laura Kuenssberg was watched by 1.2 Million People in 3 days. Peters films and Political commentaries are viewed by millions.


see what volunteers and clients love about the refugee therapy centre

I volunteered for The Refugee Therapy Centre for many years, and this work helped me to be more sensitive towards the plight of human beings on this planet
— Mentoring Volunteer
With a little therapeutic work, we can change peoples lives in a big way
— Aida Alayarian, former Clinical Director, CEO and current Chair of Trustees
We provide great support for refugees and asylum seekers and help them to get the confidence to get on with their daily lives.
— Mentoring Coordinator

 Privacy Statement 

The Refugee Therapy Centre is committed to protecting your personal information and being transparent about what we do with it. We are committed to keeping your personal information safe and secure in accordance with all applicable laws such as the Data Protection Act 1998 and the General Data Protection Regulation 2018

How do we obtain your personal information?

We collect and receive personal information when you are referred to one of our services, apply for employment, or become one of our volunteers; when you make a donation, or attend an event that we have organised.

 What information do we collect?

Personal information is any information that can be used to identify you. For example, it can include information such as your name, date of birth, email address, postal address, telephone number, credit/debit card details, as well as information relating to your health or personal circumstances.

Some of the personal information we receive and retain is known as sensitive personal information and includes; health information, disabilities, sexual orientation, racial or ethnic origin, religion and immigration status.

We would collect sensitive personal information only where there is a lawful basis for doing so, such as an agreement with an individual to provide a service, and having received their consent in the form of a signature.

How do we use your information?

We use your information to keep a record of your relationship with us and to ensure the safety of staff and clients at all times by the application of due diligence checks. Also for internal administrative purposes such as fundraising, accounting and reporting.  We use personal data to carry out statistical analysis and research in order to help us understand and monitor how we are performing and how we can improve our services to consistently meet the needs of our clients.

 Who do we share your information with?

When we collect your personal information we use strict procedures and security protocols to prevent any unauthorised access to this data. Any hard copy material is stored in locked cabinets within our premises. Our premises are protected by an intruder alarm which provides the appropriate level of security required.

In respect of personal information and data stored in a database or in electronic data files, this information is secured through anti-virus protection and is subject to regular backup routines to ensure the integrity and protection of data at all times.

 We will not share your personal data with anyone without your consent. The only exception being a specific request from the police or a court of law, where criminal activity is suspected or perceived as an imminent threat.

Your right to access and/or deletion of personal information

You may request access to the personal information we hold about you and additionally ask for it to be deleted subject to consideration of our legal basis for holding your information. To request access or deletion please either write to us by letter or by email.


For Children

When you are referred to the Refugee Therapy Centre or attend an event or take part in activities we record some personal information about you. This might include your name and address and other information that relates to your family history or where you were born, your first language and some information about your doctor or other health provider. We collect this information only with your permission. If you are aged 13 or over, one of our staff will ask you to sign a form to confirm that you agree to us doing this. If you are younger than 13 then we will need to ask one of your parents to sign a form to show that they are happy for us to keep your personal information. You can ask to see the information we hold that relates to you and you may also ask for us to delete or change some of the information if you are unhappy with it. Your information will always be kept safely and will not be shared with anyone outside of our organisation. If you have any questions concerning this privacy statement please ask your contact at the Centre, email our CEO or ask your parent to do this for you.