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Migration and Home Affairs
Expert opinion

RAN REHABILITATION How to work with middle-aged target groups without socio-economic needs? Online meeting, 18-19 November 2021


Publication date
4 April 2022
Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs


It has become common knowledge that radicalisation processes are highly individual, in turn requiring tailor-made rehabilitation programmes. However, traditionally both, research and practice related to radicalisation have focused on adolescents and young adults as the key group being “at-risk” of radicalisation.

While this likely adequately reflected the extremism- and radicalisation-related dynamics of the past two decades, a slight shift can be identified today, moving away from a primary focus on young people, and more prominently problematizing the radicalisation of and subsequent rehabilitation work with older target groups.

In light of these developments, it has become necessary to take stock of what practitioners know about working with a) middle-aged target groups and b) socio-economically stable target groups. While little experience has been made with these target groups in the scope of extremism-related rehabilitation work, other fields such as cult disengagement have gathered significant expertise regarding some of these aspects.

This paper collects some of the key insights related to practical rehabilitation work with socio-economically stable and middle-aged target groups based on experiences and knowledge collected in P/CVE and adjacent fields.

Some of the key take-aways include the following: Working with middle-aged target-groups:

  • Many methods and focus areas relevant for working with young people can also be used with middle-aged adults. There is nothing that should not or cannot be used.
  • Themes and topics of rehabilitation work may be more substantial and existential.
  • The older persons become, the more control over the process they might want to have. Working with socio-economically-stable target groups:
  • A focus should be placed on social (re)integration, especially for people who have stayed in movements/groups for a long period.
  • Focusing on improving their perceived quality of life by understanding what makes them happy and what they are thriving for.
  • Attempting to repurpose the skills and energy that used to be invested into the movement/group.
How to work with middle-aged target groups without socio-economic needs?  cover


4 APRIL 2022
RAN REHABILITATION How to work with middle-aged target groups without socio-economic needs?
(285.37 KB - PDF)