A Tight-Knit Community Heals Individually
By CVT Intern Mary Hellmich
The tight-knit community at the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services, located in Dearborn, Michigan, is a pillar for its success as a healing center.
ACCESS uses a holistic approach to treating refugees and torture survivors. Also, its wise partnering with organizations in the Detroit-Metropolitan area enhances the healing experience for its clients.
“It’s a whole package of services for refugees and victims,” says Husam Abdulkhaleq, program manager at the ACCESS Psychosocial Rehabilitation Center. He describes how many services ACCESS supplies can cater to a wide variety of client needs. For example, if a patient comes in with children and a spouse, ACCESS can provide medical, psychological, legal, social and employment services to everyone, including a mental health department specifically for children. “It’s a one-stop-shop model,” says Abdulkhaleq.
In addition to the package of services supplied directly by ACCESS, its longstanding relationships with Lutheran Social Services, Freedom House and the Archdiocese of Detroit have strengthened the ACCESS community and created more options available to clients. “We’ve developed over the years a specialty in torture survivor services,” Abdulkhaleq says. “They know we provide these services; we’ve been receiving referrals from these organizations and others in the area over the years.” Lutheran Social Services and ACCESS even have the same front desk, Abdulkhaleq says.
ACCESS’s long-term relationships with organizations in the area and the variety of services offered are not the only aspects that have successfully molded ACCESS’s unique community. The Detroit-Metro area has the largest concentration of Arab Americans in the United States, and ACCESS is the largest and most comprehensive Arab community-based health and mental health center in North America. “We are a community organization; we value the clients and their needs and we are sensitive to these needs,” Abdulkhaleq says. For example, by acknowledging that many of its clients struggle with a language barrier, ACCESS hires employees who can speak the language from the patients’ home area. “Our staff members are very culturally sensitive to our clients. We feel our clients’ goals and needs, and we try to help them by understanding their culture and language.”
Although the community at ACCESS aids enormously in its success and ability to heal, Abdulkhaleq emphasizes that clients are always treated as individuals.
“It is important for us not to lump them all together in regard to their treatment and the services we provide to them,” Abdulkhaleq says. “We have to be very individualistic and look at each person separately.” The similarities within the community can certainly help the healing process, for example, if a certain technique has been successful with clients who have had similar experiences. Abdulkhaleq emphasizes that such application will only happen after looking at a client as a unique case: “We always put the individual first.”