In recent years, increasingly more German-born preschool children of refugee parents have been referred to the ‘specialized consultation service for refugee minors’ of the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University Hospital Munster. This ‘change’ in the use of the above-mentioned consultation service could be understood as a ‘natural’ consequence of the family life cycle of forced migrants who some years ago came to Germany as adolescents or young adults and started here a family. The treatment of ‘preschoolers with a refugee background’, as we may call this group of patients, confronts mental health practitioners with particular challenges. In this contribution, we specify some of these challenges and argue that, due to the deep intertwinement of different aspects of these patients’ condition, a ‘situated approach’ is required when treating this population. When planning therapeutic interventions for preschoolers with refugee background, their families should be conceived as unified systems which in their social and transcultural embeddedness exhibit trans-individual vulnerabilities and resources. By discussing a case study, we illustrate how an extremely challenging child psychiatric treatment could succeed only on the condition that we focused on the interconnectedness of various factors determining not merely the patient’s symptomatic behavior but, furthermore, the behavior of the family, i.e., on the condition of focusing on the situated nature of the problematic.

DOI: 10.13109/prkk.2023.72.2.148
ISSN: 0032-7034