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Hyojin Im, Ph.D.

Associate professor

Email: him@vcu.edu

Phone: (804) 828-2607

Postdoctorate, University of California - Berkeley
Ph.D., University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
M.S.W., University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

Hyojin Im, Ph.D., is interested in promoting mental health and psychosocial support for refugee and immigrant communities, both local and international, by building community capacity and partnership for culturally-responsive services and trauma-informed care. She is also passionate about linking local and global practices and policies for seamless refugee programs and sustainable interventions.

Im has extensive experiences working with culturally diverse, trauma-affected communities in various settings. Working with the Center for Victims of Torture (CVT), she participated in a project to develop culturally relevant screening and referrals for trauma-related mental health symptoms among newly resettled refugees in Minnesota. She was also involved in international capacity building activities, providing training on refugee mental health and monitoring & evaluation of psychosocial programs to local staff of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Malaysia, and humanitarian NGOs in Nairobi and Dadaab refugee camp, Kenya. While working at the Mack Center on Mental Health & Social Conflict, UC - Berkeley, she conducted a community participatory intervention project, Trauma-Informed Psycho-Education (TIPE), for Somali urban refugees in Nairobi, Kenya. In this USAID-funded work, she designed and implemented programs for refugee community leaders to establish and strengthen local capacity for trauma healing and social support systems for at-risk Somali youth displaced in urban setting. Supported by Virginia Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Services (DBHDS), the TIPE intervention model was culturally adapted for the use in the context of the U.S., focusing further on cross-cultural competence and healthy adjustment of refugees to the host community, which turned into a Cross-Cultural Trauma-Informed Care (CC-TIC) training that is currently implemented by local agencies in Virginia, Kentucky, Texas, and other states. Since joining VCU, she has been closely working with statewide refugee mental health programs, providing a multi-tiered model for refugee mental health services to guide stratified services and adequately respond to various refugee needs.

Learn more about Dr. Im's work on Research Gate and VCU News


Notable awards, honors and appointments

  • Mentor Award for Social Justice Fund with International Social Work Student Association, Division of Inclusive Excellence, VCU (2017)
  • Social Justice Award by VCU School of Social Work (2017)
  • Award for New Investigators Workshop for NIH’s Mental Health Service Research (MHSR) (2014)
  • Buckman Fellowship for Leadership in Philanthropy (2011)
  • Diversity in Action Award, Hennepin County, Minnesota (2010)
  • Best Student Abstract Award, University of Hong Kong & Joint International Conference of Social Work and Social Development (2010)
  • Women’s Philanthropic Leadership Circle Award (2010)

Research projects and funding

Recent and current funded projects

Consultant & Trainer (2017-Present)

Building Capacity and Partnership for Cross-Cultural Trauma-Informed Care in Refugee Resettlement in partnering with:

  • U.S. Committee for Refugees & Immigrants (USCRI) - Texas
  • Kentucky Office for Refugees (KOR) & Catholic Charities

Principal Investigator (2017-2019)

Trauma-Informed Care for Refugee Newcomers (Co-PI, Rosalie Corona, Dept. of Psychology), Funded by VCU Presidential Research Quest Fund (PERQ)

Consultant (2016-2018)

  • New Roots: Making Refugees Welcome through Building Community Food Places by International Rescue Committee (IRC), Funded by NoVo Foundation, “Promoting Local Living Economies” Grant
  • Cross-Cultural Healing Partnership by The Women’s Initiative (TWI), Funded by Charlottesville Area Community Foundation Grant

Principal Investigator (2015-16)

  • Trauma-Informed Refugee Resettlement & Mental Health Training, Funded by Virginia Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Services (DBHDS)
  • Dissemination of Refugee Healing Partnership Model & Cultural Navigator Certificate Program, Funded by Virginia Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Services (DBHDS)

Principal Investigator (2014-2015)

Agri-culture: Growing food and community with Richmond refugees, Funded by Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Community Engagement Grant

Principal Investigator (2014)

Trauma-Informed Psycho-Education Adjustment Group Curricula, Funded by Virginia Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Services (DBHDS)

Principal Investigator (2012-13)

Eastleigh Youth Project - Trauma-Informed Psycho-Education for Refugee Youth at Risk, Funded by USAID – Kenya

Principal Investigator (2010-11)

Stress and Coping of Homeless Refugees in Twin Cities,  Innovation Research Grant by Annie E. Casey Foundation

Principal Investigator (2010-11)

Heading Home Hennepin: Solving Refugee Housing Issues in Twin Cities, Funded by Minnesota Family Housing Fund


Note: * indicates student co-author and † indicates community partner co-author at time of writing

Selected publications

*Swan, L.E.T. & Im, H. (In Press). Risk and preventive factors for common mental disorders among urban Somali refugee youth. Accepted to Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma.

Im, H. (2020). Falling through the cracks: Stress and coping in migration and resettlement among marginalized Hmong refugee families in the U.S. Families in Society. Advance online publication.

Im, H. & *Neff, J. (2020). Spiral Loss of Culture among Bhutanese Refugee Elders. Advance online publication. Journal of Immigrant and Refugee Studies. Advance online publication.

Im, H. & *Swan, L.E.T. (2020). Capacity building for refugee mental health in resettlement: Implementation and evaluation of cross-cultural trauma-informed care training. Advance online publication. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health. Advance online publication. 

Im, H., †Rodriguez, C., & †Grumbine, J. (2020). A multi-tier model of refugee mental health and psychosocial support in resettlement: Towards trauma-informed and culture-informed systems of care. Psychological Services. Advance online publication.

Bogenschutz, M., Im, H., *Liang, A., & †Loung, L. (2020). Vietnam and disability rights: Perspectives at the ratification of the UNCRPD. Journal of Disability Policy Studies. Advance online publication.

Im, H., *Swan, L.E.T., & *Lindsay, H. (2020). Polyvictimization and mental health consequences of female genital mutilation/circumcision (FGM/C) among Somali refugees in Kenya. Women & Health, 60(6). 636-651.

Im, H. & *Swan, L.E.T. (2019). A Qualitative Exploration of Critical Health Literacy among Afghan and Congolese Refugees Resettled in the USA. Health Education Journal – Special Issue: Health Education and Migration. 78(1), 38-50.

Im, H. (2018). Constructing health capital in ecological systems: A qualitative evaluation of community-based health workshops in the refugee community. Health & Social Care in the Community, 26(4), e541-e551.

McDonald, S.E., Im, H., Green, K.E., *Luce, C.O., & Burnette, D. (2018). Comparing factor models of PTSD in a sample Somali refugee youth in Kenya: An item response theory analysis of the PCL-C. Traumatology. Advance online publication

Im, H., *Jettner, J.F., †Warsame, A.H., †Isse, M.M., *Khoury, D., & *Ross, A. (2018). Trauma-Informed Psychoeducation for Somali refugee youth in urban Kenya: Effects on PTSD and Psychosocial Outcomes. Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma. 11(4), 431-441.

Im, H., *Ferguson, A.B., & *Hunter, M. (2017). Cultural Translation of Refugee Trauma: Cultural Idioms of Distress among Somali Refugees in Displacement. Transcultural Psychiatry. 54(5-6), 626-652.

Im, H., *Ferguson, A.B., †Warsame, A.H., & †Isse, M.M. (2017). Mental Health Risks and Stressors Faced by Urban Refugees: Perceived Impacts of War and Community Adversities among Somali Refugees in Nairobi. International Journal of Social Psychiatry. 63(8), 686-693.

Im, H., & *Rosenberg, R. (2016). Building Social Capital Through a Peer-Led Community Health Workshop: A Pilot with the Bhutanese Refugee Community. Journal of Community Health, 41(3), 509-517.

Im, H., *Caudill, C., & *Ferguson, A.B. (2016). From Victim to Perpetrator of Trauma: Lived Experiences of Gang-Involved Urban Refugee Youth in Kenya. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 25(7), 753-771.

Shannon, P., Im, H., Becher, E., Simmelink J., Wieling, E., & O’Fallon, A. (2012). Screening for war trauma, torture and mental health symptoms among newly arriving refugees: A national survey of state refugee health coordinators. Journal of Immigrant and Refugee Studies. 10(4), 380-394. 

Selected presentations

Note: * indicates student co-author and † indicates community partner co-author at time of writing


†Mustafayeva, S., †Molina, H., †Ford, R., †Montour, J., †Shamsuddin, S., †Grumbine, J., *Swan, L.E.T., & Im, H. (2020, September). Building Community Capacity and Partnership for Refugee Mental Health in Resettlement: Towards Cross-Cultural Trauma-Informed Care. Workshop presented at the annual conference of the North Refugee Health Conference, Virtual platform.

Bogenschutz, M. & Im, H. (2019, July). Multiple stakeholder perspectives on Vietnam’s ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Paper presented to the 21st Biennial Conference of the International Consortium for Social Development: Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

Gonzalez-Benson, O., Harding, S., Libal, K., Darrow, J. & Im, H. (2019, January). Refugee Resettlement amidst Radical Federal Policy Changes: New Approaches and Local Actors Roles in Social Work Practice with Refugees and Immigrants. A round-table presentation at the annual conference of the Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR). SF, CA. 

Im, H. & †Ray, B. (2018, June). Building Healthy Community: Community Wellness Workshops with Bhutanese, Afghani and Congolese Refugees in the U.S. Paper presented at the North American Refugee Health Conference, Portland, OR, US.

Im, H., & *Ferguson, A. (2017, January). Cultural Translation of Refugee Trauma: Cultural Idioms of Distress Among Somali Refugees in Displacement. Paper presented at the annual conference of the Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR). New Orleans, LA, US.

Beattie, E., Bonz, A., Im, H., Northwood, A., & Boero, J. (December, 2016). Addressing the emotional health needs and trauma experiences of immigrants and refugees. National Immigrant Integration Conference, Nashville, TN, US.

Im, H., *Gaddy, J., & *Rosenberg, R. (2016, January). Building Cultural Health Capital in the Refugee Community: A Qualitative Participatory Evaluation of Community Health Workshops with Bhutanese Refugees. Paper presented at the annual conference of the Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR). Washington DC. US.

Im, H. (November, 2014). Effectiveness of Trauma-Informed Peace Education for Mental Health in Somali Refugees. Paper presented at the American Public Health Association (APHA). New Orleans, LA, US.

Im, H. (July, 2014). An Interpretive Study of Meaning of Peace and Conflicts Among Somali Refugees in Kenya: Evaluation of Peace Education Programme in Dadaab Refugee Camp. Paper presented at the International Association for Studies on Forced Migration (IASFM). Bogotá, Colombia.

Im, H. (July, 2014). Protection under Chaos: Seeking Solutions for the Protracted Somali Refugee Situation in Kenya. Paper presented at the International Association for Studies on Forced Migration (IASFM). Bogotá, Colombia.

Im, H. (April, 2014). Trauma-Informed Psychoeducation for Refugee Mental Health. Poster presented at the Mental Health Services Research (MHSR) 2014 Conference by NHMH. Bethesda, MD, US.

Im, H. (November, 2013). Coping with Migration and Resettlement Distress among Marginalized Refugee Families in the U.S.: A Gap in Refugee Resettlement Policy. Poster presented at American Public Health Association (APHA), Boston, MA. US.

†King, R. & Im, H. (February 2011). Practice and Policy Implications from Refugee Housing Programs and Refugee Homelessness Research Project in Minnesota. Presented at the National Conference for Ending Family Homelessness, Oakland, CA, US.


Review Board Member

  • International Journal of Environmental Public Health

Ad-hoc Reviewer (Selected)

  • BMC Psychiatry
  • Ethnicity & Health
  • Frontiers Psychology
  • Journal of Traumatic Stress
  • Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
  • Journal of Interpersonal Violence
  • Journal of Immigrant & Minority Health
  • Journal of Refugee Studies
  • PLOS - Medicine
  • Progress in Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education, and Action
  • Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy
  • Social Work in Mental Health


Virginia Commonwealth University
School of Social Work
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Box 842027
Richmond, Virginia 23284-2027

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Fax: (804) 828-0716
Email: sswinfo@vcu.edu
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