Immigration Trauma

In an expansion of its work since 2012 for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), Kristi House was tapped by the federal government to provide therapy services to children and youth who have come to the U.S. unaccompanied from other countries. Kristi House’s Proyecto Brazos Abiertos program provides free evidence-based therapy to minors designated as unaccompanied alien children (UAC) who have experienced trauma. Many of these youth are in residence at shelters in South Florida while efforts are made to place them with relatives in the U.S.

Many of these youth, some of whom have been separated from their parents upon arrival, are suffering from separation trauma, anxiety and PTSD symptoms as a result of their journeys and experiences in their home countries. Kristi House is also reaching out to sponsors and families in South Florida homes who have youth placed who might need of therapy services.

If you know of an eligible child, or for more information on the program, please complete this referral form, or contact Kristi House’s Proyecto Brazos Abiertos Supervisor, Cedrin Vera.

Kristi House's Proyecto Brazos Abiertos Program:

Program Highlights:

  • Free, evidence-based trauma therapy.
  • Comprehensive trauma assessment completed at intake, including standardized assessments.
  • Utilizing Culturally Modified-Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CM-TF-CBT), developed for use with various cultures.
  • Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) is the most well-supported and effective treatment for children who have been abused or traumatized or bereaved.
  • Short-term treatment (12-16 session average).
  • TF-CBT helps children and caregivers process traumatic events and learn skills to promote emotional and behavioral stability.
  • Provided through a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Grant.


Criteria for Program: 

  • Minors designated as Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC)
  • Minors ages 3 to 17
  • Experienced a traumatic event
  • Symptoms related to the trauma such as, depression, anxiety, behavioral problems, high-risk behaviors, PTSD, etc.
  • Living in Miami-Dade County
  • Provided through a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Grant
Providers from across the country gathered in Washington, DC in May 2019 at the National Child Traumatic Stress Network’s Unaccompanied Children Task Force meeting. In the photo are Kristi House’s Program Director Dr. Vanessa Ramirez (fr. row, 3rd from left) and Assistant Clinical Supervisor Cedrin Vera, LCSW (fr. row, 3rd from right).
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