Universität Bielefeld

© Universität Bielefeld

"Community-based stepped care for traumatized asylum-seekers  COCARE"



Project description

The aim of the project is to test a model of a comprehensive care structure for the treatment of vulnerable asylum seekers in the greater Bielefeld and Herford area. In an innovative approach, the three components regular care, specific complementary care and lay assistance are to be integrated. As a first step, specially trained laypersons will act as Intercultural Therapy Assistants (ITAs) and carry out a short screening of refugees in initial reception centres and central accommodation facilities to determine the presence of psychological problems. Highly stressed residents will then be offered psychoeducation or Problem Management Plus (PM+; WHO, 2016), a low-threshold short intervention for problem-solving skills and stress management. In the Psychotherapy Outpatient Clinic of the University of Bielefeld (PAdUB), severely affected persons who do not benefit from the direct help of the ITAs can be offered comprehensive and evidence-based psychotherapy within the framework of the COCARE project as part of regular care.

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Project management: Prof. Dr. Frank Neuner
Prof. Dr. Claudia Catani
Research assistants: Dr. Sarah Wilker
Telja Schmidt
Angelina Weitkämper
Jasmin Wittmann
Clinical staff: Dr. Hanna Kley
Contact person for
further inquiries:
Telja Schmidt
Telefon: +49 521 106 67145
Cooperating institutions:
  • Bezirksregierung Detmold
  • Erstaufnahmeeinrichtung Oldentruper Hof in Bielefeld
  • Zentrale Unterbringungseinrichtung Herford








This project is co-financed by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.

project completion]

The project is finished after a two-month extension. By the end of the project, the ITA's had reached over 170 people and offered them a short examination. In addition a large part of the people were offered further treatment. This included, among other things, diagnostics by psychologists and further care in crisis situations.

A large number of people could thus receive special support from the project.

The collected scientific data are now being evaluated. The knowledge gained will make an important contribution to the scientific discussion about the care of newly arrived traumatized asylum seekers and will also be discussed with decision-makers and practicing clinicians at upcoming exchange meetings.


[ITA-deployment 2020]
From January to March 2020, around 20 of our ITAs were deployed in Bielefeld's first admission facilitiy as part of the COCARE project. Thanks to their great commitment, more than 150 fugitives were able to take part in a mental health screening. The screenings and psychoeducation were conducted by our ITAs in eight different languages: Arabic, German, English, Farsi, French, Kurdish Kurmancî, Russian and Turkish.