Working with Traumatised Individuals and their Families in the Aftermath of Refugee Trauma, Migration and Dislocation
Clinical Master Class Evening held on 14 September 2016
Working with families after trauma and respecting the systems capacity for recovery
In the event of trauma if extreme adversity is not prolonged the majority of people and families, manage to get their functioning back on track. In this presentation Jenny Brown described the family systems and factors that impact on how a person is affected by significant adversity /trauma. It addressed the factors in the family emotional system that may contribute to resilience after trauma. The focus of the presentation was on how the family system responds to adversity rather than just the effect of the trauma itself. This covered Dr Bowen’s theoretical concepts of level of differentiation of self and chronic anxiety.
Differentiation of family members is the capacity to function as an autonomous self while remaining connected to significant others. It involves an internal process of regulating emotions and activating thinking as well as an interpersonal process of managing relationship pulls to fuse with others or to distance. Theory posits that families pass on levels of differentiation across generations. There are also variations within a generational family according to the amount of emotional intensity each child/member is caught up in. Exploring the interplay of family differentiation with levels of anxiety and acute events was central to Jenny’s presentation.
A case example will be used to illustrate and to discuss clinical implications and treatment approaches.
Working clinically with a newly arrived Syrian refugee family
Refugee families have often experienced multiple traumas and face various types of stressors in the course of exile, migration and the settlement process which require multi-level interventions. In this presentation Hannah illustrated this with a case study of a newly arrived Syrian refugee family who had experienced war and forced migration, dislocation and multiple losses. Loss and grief were focal points of distress for the family members. As a result, this affected the family dynamics and their resettlement in Australia. Although individual therapy was carried out with the three children who presented with various psychological symptoms, including depression, anxiety and stress, working with the parents was the essence of therapy. Resettling in their new host country, the family carried with them their own set of cultural values, traditions, beliefs and practices. It was therefore important to implement culturally relevant therapeutic interventions to achieve desirable outcomes. Such approaches improved their psychological functioning, and in turn assisted their resettlement in Australia.
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.