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Clinical Group Work with Survivors of Sexual Assault
and Rape in the Context of Refugee Trauma

Clinical Master Class Evening held on 9 November 2016

Group therapy for people affected by sexual violence

Jackie Burke

Jackie Burke Rectangular JPEGSexual violence (SV) is a widespread, preventable social problem that occurs within the context of broader social and gender relations, and affects people in the most personal and intimate areas of their lives. There are a number of counselling services in Australia that support people to overcome the adverse effects of trauma resulting from SV. Community clinical services are delivered across multiple modalities, including a number of specialised group therapy programs. There is substantial evidence for the effectiveness of group therapy for people impacted by SV. However, the delivery of group services to individuals affected by a significant trauma history, who may be experiencing distressing symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, as well as the emotional and interpersonal difficulties associated with complex trauma, presents unique challenges for therapists working in this area.

Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia (R&DVSA) is carrying out a nationwide study into service provider and client experiences of the key strengths and limitations of group services for people affected by SV. The findings underscore how group therapy meets the needs of the clients, and outlines important suggestions for practitioners working therapeutically with groups of individuals impacted by trauma.

In this presentation, Jackie Burke will explore the challenges and common pitfalls in facilitating group programs for people affected by SV, and provide specialised and practical insights into how to most effectively carry out therapeutic work with traumatised clients within a group environment.

STRI – Working with women Survivors of Torture, Rape and their Intrusions

Pearl Fernandes and Yvette Aiello

Photo Pearl Fernandes PortraitSTRI, is the Sanskrit word for woman. In our project it stands for Surviving Torture, Rape and their Intrusions. STRI was conceived as a response to requests from Tamil asylum seekers from Sri Lanka who had participated in MANTRA, a project for MAN survivors of Torture and Rape. The men advocated for a comparable project for women in their community who had likewise survived torture and rape.

There is widespread evidence that rape and sexual abuse are contemporary “weapons” in warfare.  Just as they were used in medieval times in conflict, they continue to be a means to disempower and gain control over women and the ethnic communities the women belong to.

Photo Yvette Aiello PortraitAssisting women heal from these acts of violence is a challenge for clinicians,  particularly due to the stigma and shame associated with disclosure. We trialled a combination of group and individual treatment appraoches to assist women explore and process the horrors of their experience and break the cycle of humiliation, grief, anger, avoidance and intrusion commonly associated with survivors of torture and rape.

STRI creatively integrates principles of NET (Narrative Exposure Therapy), Teaching stories, and grounding teachniques in a culturally sensitive manner.  Although developed in response to the needs of Tamil asylum seekers this project can easily be extended to other cultural groups.

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Recorded lectures

These events are recorded by Psychevisual and are available for viewing on the internet at a later date for a fee. Please see the Psychevisual website www.psychevisual.com.