The Lost Boys of Sudan Essay

  • Last Edited: February 13, 2018
The Lost Boys of Sudan Essay

Essay Prompt

The movie – The Lost Boys of Sudan – 1) Discuss the initial issues presented (if referred to therapy) by individuals and families in the process of re-location to another country. 2) What are ongoing issues as individuals and families get settled in another country? Describe the issues for the individuals in the specific video viewed in your class. 3) Consider and discuss how you would establish rapport with individuals in the initial phase of therapy; how would you engage individuals and families initially? 4) As individuals and families get settled (and re-settled) into the new country, how does the situation change for various individuals or the family? As individuals adjust, what issues would you focus on if you were their therapist? Address the issues for each person. 5) Do you think you would do short term therapy (6-12 sessions) or long term treatment (12-24 sessions) if you had the option? Which would be best model or theoretical orientation for individuals or families who migrate to another country? 6) Discuss a treatment plan for individuals or families who migrate to another country. What issues may emerge as individuals or families continue to adjust to their life in the new country? 8) What referrals would you consider at the beginning phase or middle phase of therapy? Towards the end of the video (you watched in class), as you see their situation, what referrals would you consider for various individuals or families?


Castillo, R.J. (1997). Culture and mental illness: A client-centered approach. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole. ISBN: 9780534345587

McGoldrick. M., Pearson, J. & Giordano, J. (2005). Ethnicity and family therapy. New York: Guilford Press. ISBN: 9781593850203

The author of this report has been asked to synthesize and answer questions relating to the movie The Lost Boys of Sudan. All of the questions relate to therapy and counseling relating to the environments and scenarios in the movie. The questions that will be answered to include the initial therapy issues in the movie, the ongoing issues that the families and individuals are encountering in the movie, how one would establish a rapport with the locals once in a new country, how situations change once new entrants to a country get acclimated, whether short-term therapy or long-term therapy would be a better option, a treatment plan that would be best for either individuals or families when they enter the country, the issues that would emerge and what referrals would or should be considered when it comes to all of the above. While some people are able to immigrate into a new country relatively smoothly and with little major issue, the culture shock present and adjustments needed when it comes to immigrating from a country like Sudan are substantial in many to most cases and therapy would be an integral part of meeting that challenge.


Of course, the movie’s premise is the actual “lost boys” of Sudan that were displaced from Sudan over the curse of the second Sudanese Civil War. That war ran a long time, that being from the 1980’s to the 2000’s, or roughly a generation. Per the PBS website, about four thousand of the larger group of Sudanese orphans and otherwise displaced children ended up in the United States (PBS, 2016). When it comes to therapy-related situations with these boys, they would obviously be numerous and substantial in nature. The change in culture and surroundings alone would very much be a “fish out of water” experience for these boys. However, there are obviously other issues that will probably be present. For example, it would not be beyond the pale at all to expect that many of those kids would have post-traumatic stress disorder or other anxiety disorders. Depression and other mental health conditions would surely also be present in at least some of the children. Beyond that, many of these children have lost one or more parents and/or other family members so grief counseling would obviously also be an issue. Issues of race and ethnicity would also be in play, especially in situations where black people (of any home country) are the minority (Castillo, 1997; McGoldrick, Pearson & Giordano, 2005).

A therapist in the West knowing what those people have gone through would be extremely hard, although people that have come from similar circumstances would be great mentors or therapists. Regardless, putting forward the idea that there is great empathy and concern, not to mention cultural literacy, when it comes to their changed lives and transitioning into their new one in their new country would be of the utmost importance (Kummerer, 2007). As for what would change for these people, the complete change in societies and situations would hold huge gravity and getting use to a new society, even of the same level, is hard enough. However, situations will absolute shift and change as the person adjusts and integrates into their new society. While short-term therapy would be helpful for these people, the use of long-term therapy would absolutely be better for the people affected. The best model would be one that allows a slow and steady adjustment over time so that things do not go too far too fast. A treatment plan for such a situation should involve linkage with family that are with the person (if any) or, if possible, with people of similar backgrounds and cultures that have already made the transition. Referrals that could or should be made would depend on the family, cultural and mental health issues that arise. The learning of English and the culture of their new home would be a good idea as well. Regardless of what ends up happening with any given family or person, a “cookie-cutter” approach is not permissible. Indeed, each treatment and cultural integration should be customized based on the trauma, culture and people involved (Castillo, 1997; McGoldrick, Pearson & Giordano, 2005).


Even in the best of circumstance, switching over from a culture like that of Sudan or other rougher or war-torn parts of Africa would be difficult. However, throwing in the death of family members, becoming orphans and/or refugees and so forth would make it even harder. The key to drill down and find all that is potentially or definitely an issue and tackling those issues head-on in therapy and other life situations for that person. Doing anything short of that would be a potential disservice to the patient/immigrants in question.


Castillo, R.J. (1997). Culture and mental illness: A client-centered approach. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole. ISBN: 9780534345587

Kummerer, S. (2007). Mexican immigrant mothers’ perceptions of their children’s communication disabilities, emergent literacy development, and speech-language therapy

p…  – PubMed – NCBI. Retrieved 7 August 2016, from

McGoldrick. M., Pearson, J. & Giordano, J. (2005). Ethnicity and family therapy. New York: Guilford Press. ISBN: 9781593850203

PBS. (2016). Lost Boys of Sudan | POV | PBS. POV | American Documentary Inc. Retrieved 7 August 2016, from

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