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NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors

Upcoming Clinical Master Classes

Working Clinically with Survivors of Transgenerational Trauma: Considering Complex Trauma with Individuals and Families

14 June 2023 | 6.30-8pm | Free webinar

Register Now

Kim Slender
Psychologist, Family Therapist

Adriana Karapetian
Counsellor, Team Leader, STARTTS

Event outline

Exposure to war and violence has major consequences not only for societies and communities, but also on the individual lives of the people who live through them. It is now commonly accepted that trauma-related psychopathology of those exposed to war and violence may also have intergenerational consequences, A parents’ stressful experiences because of war and violence can influence an offspring’s vulnerability to many pathological conditions, including psychopathologies, and there is now research that asserts that these effects may even endure for several generations.

In this Clinical Master Class to be held on 14 June 2023, Kim Slender, a psychologist and family therapist, will explore the underlying mechanisms of this transmission; how parental child attachment influences mental health outcomes for offspring of parents who have endured trauma; how the mental health of the parent who has experienced the trauma directly impacts the child growing up in their care; and how higher levels of family and community cohesion act as protective factors. More recently intergenerational resilience has come into the spotlight and there is some evidence that demonstrates that in the face of adversity and loss, war-affected families not only run from war, but are also able to repair, grow, and even pass down their adaptive capacities from the ‘recovery repertoire’ to the next generation. Adriana Karapetian, a counsellor and team leader at STARTTS, will bring together both her personal experiences and professional expertise to demonstrate STARTTS’ work with a case study of a Feyli Kurdish client who is a survivor of transgenerational trauma.

Working Clinically with Children with Complex Trauma Presentations

17 July 2023 | 6.30-8pm | Free webinar

Register Now

Dr Jon Jureidini
Child Psychiatrist
University of Adelaide

Holly Cutcher
Child and Adolescent Counsellor

Event outline

Children from refugee backgrounds living in Australia have usually survived a multitude of traumatic experiences and significant losses in their country of origin or while they are fleeing. Exposed to war, persecution, extreme deprivation and sometimes torture; it is common for children from refugee backgrounds to experience the violent death of one or both parents, to witness friends and close relatives being killed or injured; and to suffer extreme poverty, starvation, physical injuries, and disabilities. Some children are born in prisons or conceived in prison because of the rape of their mothers; others are raised in an orphanage or other residential care. Subsequently they are prone to post traumatic stress disorder and other psychological problems. Some may have complex presentations including complex PTSD.

In this Clinical Master Class, Dr Jon Jureidini will explore how to tolerate and respect young people’s distress. There is strong encouragement to consider such distress as illness or disorder, so that parents, therapists, and teachers are prone to label and intervene rather than sit with distressing feelings. We do better to trust children’s capacity to survive and benefit from strong uncomfortable feelings; be more respectful of the time and space that is required to do so; and tolerate and manage the anxiety we experience through not intervening. In providing scaffolding to see young people through their distress, the meaning of their experience will often emerge, ‘without any irritable reaching after fact and reason’.

Holly Cutcher, a STARTTS Child and Adolescent Counsellor, will share an example of engagement and early therapeutic work through a case study of a young boy whose experience of prolonged exposure to war and flight from his home country took place against a pre-existing foundation of abuse, early abandonment, and complex grief. Her case study will highlight some of the challenges of engaging and containing the surrounding system and finding a space for attunement and connection amidst internal and external environments of deprivation and chaos.

View Recordings of Previous Clinical Master Classes

Go to Free On Demand Webinars

Working Clinically with Older People who have Experienced Torture and Refugee Trauma: Treatment Implications for Trauma and Ageing

Held on 3 April 2023

Zimra Segall
Social Worker
JewishCare NSW

Amparo Landman

Event outline

Older people from refugee backgrounds often experience multiple traumatic events and losses. Subsequently they may face multiple challenges that are additional to those of the Australian-born and migrant ageing population. This may include: a higher risk of mental and physical health issues such as PTSD; triggering of their past traumatic memories; depression and anxiety; memory loss due to trauma and ageing; dementia; chronic physical health problems; as well as experiencing complex psychosocial adjustment to the country, loss of customary lifestyle and culture, dignity, identity and pride within their communities. Evidence suggests that cultural bereavement and transition period is much longer with older people from refugee backgrounds than the younger population. They are deprived from what that is known and familiar to them, struggling in the daunting task of adaptation in the new environment.

In this Clinical Master Class, Zimra Segall, Program Manager at JewishCare NSW, shared her expertise by looking at how earlier, prolonged and major trauma may affect individuals in their older years and how they can be best supported. Although the focus was be on Holocaust Survivors, the aim was that the principles of the extensive research on Holocaust Survivors, and the modalities of work with them will serve to inform the work with survivors of other earlier trauma in their older years. The first part of the presentation outlined the main issues faced by survivors of trauma and the triggers in the environment which elicit post-traumatic stress symptoms. The second part looked at the implications of therapeutic work with survivors including the tasks and goals of psychotherapy. The third and concluding section briefly reflected on the impact of the Holocaust on second and third generations, and on the community. Amparo Landman, STARTTS’ Student Clinic Coordinator/Counsellor, demonstrated STARTTS’ work with a case study of one of her older clients.

Note – the recorded lectures from this event will be available in the second week of April via the ‘Free On Demand Webinars‘ page.

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