A UCSB faculty member recently joined a national task force that is seeking to unpack the psyches of war-torn families and analyze the psychological and social impacts of forced relocation.

The American Psychological Association appointed Maryam Kia-Keating, an assistant professor of clinical psychology, to the seven-member study group to examine children and their families following wartime or refugee experiences. Kia-Keating, whose focus is on youths who have experienced high levels of trauma, will travel to Washington D.C. for the first official meeting in November.

Established earlier this year by the APA’s Council of Representatives, the task force will focus its research on displaced children who are particularly vulnerable to the devastating effects of war and disasters in order to identify effective emotional and psychological relief.

The APA sought researchers, psychologists and educators who are knowledgeable about the unique factors that influence the mental health of refugees.

Kia-Keating said she was honored to be a part of the APA’s efforts to understand the effects of wartime events on children in conflict zones.

“In the past decade, over two million children [were] killed in war and conflict [and] another six million were wounded. One million lost one or both parents,” Kia-Keating said. “We have to recognize that this is an international issue that we as a country are integrally part of.”

According to an APA press release, the results of the study will allow practicing psychologists and legislators to “meet the challenges of working with children and families who are refugees from armed conflicts residing in the U.S.”

Kia-Keating said her past work with the Center for Refugee Trauma in Boston will assist her in her upcoming analysis of refugee children and their families.

“Given that so many diverse groups resettle in the Boston or greater Boston, I had the opportunity to work with several different refugee and immigrant groups closely, [including] Sudanese unaccompanied minors [and] Somali adolescents resettled in the United States,” Kia-Keating said.

Throughout her career, Kia-Keating has worked with children and adolescents who come from across the globe.

“It reminds you that the U.S. is a melting pot,” Kia-Keating said. “It is amazing and inspiring to hear the stories and learn about the experiences of these young newcomers.”