Professor Zachary Steel
Professor Zachary Steel holds the St John of God Chair of Trauma and Mental Health a partnership between Richmond and Burwood Hospitals and the School of Psychiatry UNSW. He has undertaken research and clinical work with trauma-affected communities in Australia including refugees, asylum seekers, aboriginal communities, veterans, police and emergency service workers and in the Asia-Pacific Region. He is the current president of the Australasian Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (2019-2021).
Within the Asia-Pacific region he is currently involved in collaborative mental health research programs in Vietnam, Aceh-Indonesia, and Timor-Leste as well as with asylum seeker and refugee communities in Australia and amongst Aboriginal communities in Far West New South Wales.
The work of Dr Steel with asylum seeker populations in Australia has helped to develop an evidence base on the adverse mental health consequences of harsh asylum policies including the use of immigration detention and temporary protection visas. He has worked with legal colleagues to develop best practice guidelines for the better recognition of mental health conditions in the assessment of asylum claims.
Abstract – Clinical Master Class – 23 September 2020
Trauma, psychosis and dissociation – understanding the experiences of survivors of severe trauma presenting for care
It has long been recognized that PTSD does not cover the spectrum of traumatic stress responses seen in trauma survivors. Exposure to prolonged and catastrophic trauma appears to fundamentally overwhelm individuals coping responses and can shatter fundamental approaches to processing experiences of the world and the sense of self. A large body of research generated with survivors of severe trauma and from documenting the trauma histories of individuals presenting with psychotic disorders that has found substantial overlap between the experiences of these populations. The nature of traumatic dissociation has many features in common with the first rank psychotic symptoms commonly associated with psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia. Severe dissociative responses lead to a fracturing of the capacity for self-integration associated with which is commonly saturated with psychotic experiences. This talk will aim to provide an overview of the body of research looking at posttraumatic psychosis and dissociation as the clinical frameworks for supporting people in their recovery and rehabilitation journeys.