Nabila Azam

Holding Space: Therapist’s counter transference art work

Works on paper


My client fled to the UK from his country of origin nine years ago, where he was persecuted for his human rights activism: he was twice imprisoned and repeatedly tortured. Recently he was unlawfully detained at a UK immigration detention centre for six months. This was following planned final review of his marriage plans. He had been given permission to marry a European citizen by the home office but after the meeting he was arrested and ordered to be immediately deported as he was suspected of presenting a false relationship. However, due to a whistleblowing television documentary exposing the emotional and psychological abuse endured by detainees at the deportation centre my client was released, pending deportation. His case is now under review due to his previously unacknowledged claims of torture in his country of origin and his  experience of emotional abuse and  unlawful detention at the immigration centre.

My interest in the experiences of refugees in host European communities is fuelled by my curiosity in cultural displacement and the dynamics of similarities and differences within cultures. I am particularly interested in the experiences of refugees from nations with colonial ties and the complexity this creates for their well-being and how this manifests in the western therapeutic space. My own parents arrived in Britain in the late 1960s as economic migrants from a once colonised nation and although my family’s early experience in Britain does not reflect the trauma that is endured by those identified as refugees there are certain similarities of experience such as racism and the challenges of integration and acculturation.







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