Positive Living Newsletter

Embracing Change: Logotherapy and its Impact on Immigrant Mental Health

Brenna N. Nolf
Brenna N. Nolf
Department of Psychology, Carlow University

Everyone can grow into the best versions of themselves. To flourish as a human can mean many things, such as achieving goals, finding love, or creating lasting memories that catapult a person into a purposeful life. It is essential to understand the necessary work that goes into personal growth. The therapeutic approach of logotherapy is hugely beneficial to future human flourishing as it is an existential-humanistic approach centred around pursuing personal meaning in one’s life. Through his experience in a Nazi concentration camp, Viktor Frankl developed logotherapy. His evidence-based practice has helped countless people overcome and cope with mental illnesses brought on by outside forces (Lipika & Hitesh, 2023).  The beauty of this approach is that it recognizes the challenges of the past but then uses them as fuel to find personal meaning in the future. In this way, logotherapy differs from many approaches that narrowly focus on the past.

Modern human beings face many challenges, whether it be personal conflicts such as an unstable home or more widespread ones such as wars and genocides plaguing the world. Logotherapy has been increasingly found to benefit the victims of many of the world’s displaced: immigrants forcibly displaced from their homes. In 2018 alone, 70.8 million people were forcibly displaced globally (Shirin & Giménez-Llort, 2020) and, by 2023, had increased to a record 114 million people (UNHCR, 2023).

With these growing numbers, it is easy to forget that where there is suffering there is also strength. In the migration process, there is a heightened potential for a reduced quality of life through persecution and loss. Logotherapy proposes that even in extreme circumstances, at their centre, humans can remain resilient. Because logotherapy developed as a multicultural therapeutic approach, it helps to lessen anticipatory anxieties while deflecting negative inner monologues for those struggling with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (or PTSD). If a terrorist attacked a migrant on public transit, for example, it is understandable that the migrant may have a fear of getting back on a bus or train. However, a logotherapist would point out to their migrant client the number of times the individual used public transportation without any issues (Shirin & Giménez-Llort, 2020). This way of changing a narrative is just one example of why this approach benefits those forced into a new way of life. Embracing the past is the best way to move forward, and once that idea takes hold in someone, rapid growth can follow!

Logotherapy’s foundation of personalizing a shared traumatic experience can help individuals acknowledge the trauma but not dwell on it. In this way, immigrants can release themselves from their trauma and become valued members of society.  For those of us who have never experienced migration-related trauma, we should be prioritizing mental health treatment so that immigrants have the opportunity to share their stories and find communities that benefit them. Not only does this help the persons in treatment find meaning despite their situation, but it helps them feel comfortable sharing their history, customs, and cultures. In this context, being human is the only stipulation for personal growth, and as humans, we should share and celebrate that!


Malik, L., & Khurana, H. (2023). Logotherapy: Learnings from the past and relevance in the COVID-19 pandemic. Annals of Indian Psychiatry7(3), 288. https://doi.org/10.4103/aip.aip_156_22

Rahgozar, S., & Giménez-Llort, L. (2020). Foundations and applications of logotherapy to improve mental health of immigrant populations in the third millennium. Frontiers in Psychiatry11(451). https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2020.00451

UNHCR. (2023). Refugee Statistics | USA for UNHCR. unrefugees.org. https://www.unrefugees.org/refugee-facts/statistics/