Treating Muslims for PTSD

A Pew Research Center analysis of new hate crimes statistics from the FBI found the number of assaults against Muslims living in America rose significantly between the years of 2015 and 2016. These figures surpassed the level of hate crimes reported even after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. And according to a report put out by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the number of anti-Muslim hate crimes in this country rose an astounding 91% in the first half of 2017 compared with the same period the year before.

Needless to say, the current political and social environment has led to a majority of Muslims dealing with hateful rhetoric. This Islamophobia adds to the trauma many Muslims, who have emigrated to this country seeking safety from war-torn regions, already face.

Often times, trauma has been suppressed by people who have dealt with the reality of savage war. When they come to this country and deal with anger and hostility, this hatefulness can often bring up their suppressed emotions.

Treating PTSD in Muslim Populations

Among others, Kunst’s research suggests that harassment and hostility are the biggest factors contributing to the long-term mental health issues found in Muslim populations. What has also been uncovered is that the younger they are when they experience harassment, the more likely they are to develop PTSD.

While this country has some of the best mental health services available to residents, members of the Muslim community share a similar worldview based on their religious beliefs that dictate how and if members receive treatment from the Westernized healthcare system. For a majority of Muslims, God’s will comes before their own will. This makes seeing treatment for PTSD a bit tricky. Other cultural differences also make seeking treatment next to impossible.

But there are some things clinicians can do to reach out to the Muslim community in an effort to help alleviate their symptoms of PTSD:

Culturally Sensitive Therapy

Research shows how culturally sensitive interventions may make it more likely for Muslims to accept care. The first step is to recognize the hostilities Muslims face in this country. A report in the Journal of Muslim Mental Health suggests therapists recognize the microaggressions and unconscious intolerance Muslims experience on a daily basis that are adding to their trauma. Understand where some of their trauma comes from, specifically their experiences with discrimination based on ethnic background, culture, or religion, and the fear of being deported.

Consider Offering Religious Integrated Therapy

It’s a great idea to seek religious sensitivity training so that you may provide culturally appropriate care to Muslim patients. You may also want to consider implementing religious integrated therapy into your practice. The Khalil Center, the largest national mental health provider for Muslim faith communities, provides a recommended standard for spiritually integrated interventions.


To understand the people you seek to help, it’s best to engage with them personally to find out how you can best help them. If there are institutions and hospitals in your area that focus on serving Muslim populations, these can be ideal engagement partners to learn more from.

If you or someone you know is Muslim and would like to explore treatment options in a safe and non-judgmental environment, please get in touch with me. I would be happy to discuss how I may be able to help you.