Evaluation of Phone-Delivered Psychotherapy for Refugee Children

Grant awarded: 383,552

Lead organisation: Queen Mary University of London

Partnering organisations: Médecins du Monde, Lebanon; American University of Beirut, Lebanon; Johns Hopkins University, USA; Medical School Hamburg, Germany

Study locations: Refugee settlements in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon

Principal Investigator: Dr Michael Pluess

  • Refugee settlement in the Bekaa valley

  • Mental Health team supporting a Syrian refugee woman in a primary health center in Bekaa. Credits: Nour Kassab.

  • MdM volunteers with beneficiaries in an informal settlement in Zahle in Bekaa, Lebanon. Credits: Lea Telayni, Medecins du Monde – Lebanon

  • MdM volunteers celebrating a beneficiary’s birthday in a in informal settlement in Barr Elias in Bekaa, Lebanon. Credits: Patricia Moghames, Medecins du Monde- Lebanon.


Many children in war-affected settings with a need for psychological treatment don’t have access to mental health services. Humanitarian health organisations working in these settings tend to be confronted with many obstacles, including lack of funding to set up new mental health services, difficulties in recruiting qualified local staff, and restricted access of the refugee population to primary health care centres. These challenges are difficult to address with conventional mental health services, which tend to be provided by mental health specialists in centralised primary health care centres. In order to overcome these hurdles, this project will adapt and evaluate the existing transdiagnostic psychological treatment programme CETA (Common Elements Treatment Approach) for the delivery by trained lay counsellors over phone. If found to be effective, telephone-delivered CETA (t-CETA) will facilitate the provision of psychological intervention for children in humanitarian emergency and other low-resource settings with limited access to mental health services.

Expected outcomes:

This project will produce a detailed manual and training materials for a telephone-delivered psychological intervention (t-CETA) as well as empirical data on the efficacy of t-CETA in comparison to face-to-face CETA and treatment as usual (randomised controlled trial). Besides producing manuals, reports and scientific publications, we will also organise workshops in Lebanon and the United Kingdom to introduce t-CETA and provide information on its implementation to interested academics, clinicians, organisations and agencies.


Elrha is a registered charity in England and Wales (1177110).

Web design by Teamworks