Human Rights Education
Research & Publications
Trauma Mental Health

Dr. Ryan Matlow releases guide for mental health professionals serving unaccompanied children

Dr. Ryan Matlow, a core faculty member for our center’s Human Rights in Trauma Mental Health Program, recently released a new resource guide that contextualizes the experiences of unaccompanied children released from government custody and provides guidance for mental health professionals on how best to meet their therapeutic needs. This guide, titled “Guidance for Mental Health Professionals Serving Unaccompanied Children Released from Government Custody,” was made possible by a collaboration between the Stanford Early Life Stress and Resilience Program, the National Center for Youth Law, and the Center for Trauma Recovery & Juvenile Justice. The team utilized their previous collaborations where they interviewed children in government custody and detention as the foundation for the resource guide.

As clinical associate professor at the Stanford Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Dr. Matlow has dedicated his career to trauma-focused psychological assistance and treatment for immigrant youth and families, focusing on immigrants from Latin American countries. Through his position as director of community programs for the Stanford Early Life Stress and Resilience Program, Dr. Matlow worked alongside other mental health experts and children’s rights attorneys to complete the guide. 

Unaccompanied children released from federal custody need mental health services and trauma recovery support that addresses their distinctive experiences. This guide is a critical tool for mental health professionals looking to understand the complex and multi-faceted traumas experienced by unaccompanied children in detention centers. By contextualizing and grounding the identities and experiences of these children, professionals can better provide trauma-sensitive and culturally responsive care. Policy-makers, human rights activists, and others invested in providing care for these children may also find the guide a useful source of information and insight.