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Free Clinical Master Class Webinars

Working with Asylum Seekers who are in the Final Stages of Deportation with Common Presentations of Hopelessness and Helplessness

1 September 2021 | 6.30-8pm | Zoom online

Prof Nicholas Procter
University of South Australia

A/Prof Mary Anne Kenny
Murdoch University, WA

Amanda Labron Johnson
Counsellor/Art Therapist, STARTTS

Event outline

Asylum seekers are one of the most vulnerable groups of clients in our society. Evidence suggests that asylum seekers have much higher rates of mental health difficulties than are usually found within the general population. The process of seeking asylum in Australia places demands on this group, beyond the expected stressors faced by most refugees. These include several situations which are re-traumatising and triggering of their past trauma. For example: prolonged unsafe journeys, being in detention for an extended period of time, uncertainty about their future, and separation from family. There are additional financial difficulties and stressful, complex legal processes. In fact, the refugee determination process is regarded as one of the most stressful and challenging experiences for asylum seekers. In our experience clients present with PTSD, anxiety, depression, grief, with suicidality and feelings of helpfulness and hopelessness being prominent. In particular these symptoms are more pronounced when the asylum application has been rejected and the client is in the final stage of deportation. Professor Nicholas Procter and Associate Professor Mary Anne Kenny have extensive experiences of working with asylum seekers. In this Clinical Master Class, they will discuss ways of working with this vulnerable group of clients; in particular how to hold and contain them, and together find meaning and purpose. Amanda Labron Johnson, an experienced STARTTS counsellor, will illustrate STARTTS’ work via a case study of one of her clients.

Online via Zoom – REGISTER

Perinatal Psychology and Refugee Trauma: Clinical Implications of the Impact of the Mother’s Experiences on the Unborn Baby

10 November 2021 | 6.30-8pm | Zoom online

Dr Jennifer Fenwick
Clinical Midwifery Consultant, Gosford Hospital

Naila Hassan
Early Childhood Counsellor, STARTTS

Event outline

Refugee women and their dependent children count for 80% of the world refugee population. The context of motherhood is frequently traumatic for refugee women; from conception to delivery and the neonatal period there are many vulnerable moments where trauma impacts on both mother and growing baby. While the most confronting trauma is rape that results in pregnancy, there are many other sources of trauma. This might be in the course of the chaos of war, refugee flight and resettlement but the birthing process is also traumatic for some women. Separations from family result in reduced support at times when most connection with attachment figures is needed. As the mother’s body is providing the care to the child (at symbolic and physiological levels), any stress the mother experiences can transfer to the child. If the type of stress is particularly traumatic, this can cause trauma to the growing foetus and baby. Trauma in utero is commonly caused by chaotic or unpredictable lifestyle factors including the mother’s exposure to war, domestic violence, lack of antenatal care, or substance misuse during pregnancy. In this Clinical Master Class, Dr Jennifer Fenwick will share her expertise on the implication of a mother’s traumatic experiences on the mother and unborn baby. Naila Hassan, STARTTS’ Early Childhood Counsellor, will demonstrate STARTTS’ work using a case study of a woman who had experienced significant trauma during pregnancy and labour. She will reflect on the impact of these experiences on the mother and the unborn child as well as on her work with the dyad.

Online via Zoom – REGISTER

Previous Clinical Master Classes 2021

Managing the Co-morbidity of PTSD, Anxiety and Associated Disorders in Treating Refugee Trauma Survivors

Held on 28 July 2021

Dr Anthony Korner
Psychiatrist, University of Sydney

Tajana Bogicevic
Clinical Psychologist, STARTTS

Event outline

A significant number of refugees have experienced excessive, prolonged trauma as well as multiple losses in the course of dislocation, migration and resettlement. It follows that refugees can have complex presentations including complex PTSD, and prolonged and complicated grief. A substantial group have a comorbid disorder; with the most common comorbidities being depression, phobias, panic, somatisation, psychotic and personality disorders, and anxiety and associated disorders. The presence of comorbidities in the context of PTSD creates challenges for clinicians from assessment to diagnosis and treatment. Some research indicates that although similarities exist, the comorbidity profiles differ according to the type of trauma experienced and the population studied. Additionally, the evidence suggests that the associated psychiatric disorders are not truly comorbid, but are interwoven with the PTSD. In this Clinical Master Class, Dr Anthony Korner will share his expertise on managing comorbidity of PTSD, anxiety and associated disorders in working with trauma survivors. Tajana Bogicevic, an experienced clinical psychologist, will illustrate STARTTS’ work with a case study of one of her clients who presented with PTSD and associated comorbidity.

Utilising Remote Technology in Managing Self-Harm and Suicidality with Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Held on 26 May 2021

Maxine Rosenfield
Counsellor, Clinical Supervisor, Educator

Katherine Theodor
STARTTS Psychologist

Event outline

Suicide is a leading cause of death globally; understandably, vulnerable and disadvantaged groups are over-represented in the statistics. Refugees, asylum seekers and holders of temporary visas such as SHEVs and TPVs, are at particular risk. Suicidal ideation and behaviour is a complex combination of personal, social, and health factors, and hence suicide prevention requires a systems approach. The increased utilisation of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic has created new opportunities and challenges in suicide prevention and self-harm behaviour. In this Clinical Master Class, Maxine Rosenfield, the author of the well-known book ‘Telephone Counselling – A Handbook for Practitioners’, will share her expertise of using remote technology with a particular focus on suicide prevention and self-harm behaviour. Katherine Theodor, an experienced STARTTS psychologist, will share a case study of her ongoing counselling, support and containment via telehealth, of an asylum seeker on a double-negative pathway, who is experiencing auditory hallucinations and chronic suicidality.

Refugee Trauma and Addictive Behaviours: Treating Clients Consuming Drugs and Alcohol as a Coping Mechanism

Held on 31 March 2021

Prof Katherine Mills
NHMRC Senior Research Fellow
The Matilda Centre for Research in Mental Health and Substance Use

Mirjana Askovic
Psychologist/ Neurofeedback Coordinator
Bio and abstract

Event outline

Refugee survivors of torture and trauma have usually experienced cumulative and intense traumas as well as multiple losses in the course of dislocation, migration and resettlement. It follows that refugees can have complex presentations including complex PTSD and prolonged and complicated grief. A sizable group have a comorbid disorder, with the most common comorbidities being depression, anxiety, alcohol addiction, and substance abuse. The presence of comorbidities in the context of PTSD creates significant challenges for clinicians, not least due to the reliance on mood altering substances to manage the effects of trauma and loss. In this Clinical Master Class, Professor Katherine Mills will talk about improving our understanding of the relationship between mental and substance use disorders. In particular, Prof Mills will focus on the co-occurrence of post-traumatic stress disorder and substance use. Mirjana Askovic, the coordinator of Neurofeedback team and the director of Australian Neurofeedback (NF) Institute, will illustrate STARTTS’ work with a case study of one of her clients utilising NF as a part of an integrative approach to the treatment of trauma, addictive behaviour and substance abuse.

STARTTS’ Clinical Master Classes are held five times per year and aim to provide an opportunity for clinicians working with refugees to extend their understanding of refugee trauma by inviting expert speakers to present on interesting and practical topics. These presentations are followed by a case study presentation by an experienced STARTTS staff member and a panel discussion.

These events are free and open to anyone who is interested and are particularly suitable to those working in clinical and related settings. They are live webcast via Zoom.

These events are recorded by Owl Talks (formerly Psychevisual) and are available for viewing on the internet at a later date for a fee. Please see the Owl Talks website

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