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Free Clinical Master Classes and Webinars

Treating Developmental Trauma in Adult Survivors of Torture and Refugee Trauma

25 November 2020 | 6.30-8pm (AEDT)
Online via Zoom

A/Prof Loyola McLean
University of Sydney, Private Practice

Mirjana Askovic
Psychologist/ Neurofeedback Coordinator

Event outline

Early childhood trauma such as chronic maltreatment, abuse, neglect or other harsh adversity can have adverse effects lasting into adulthood. In our clinical work, we might see adults with complex presentations such as difficulty in developing relationships, trusting others, complex PTSD and ongoing difficulties with daily living. Clients from refugee backgrounds may have been exposed to developmental trauma prior to their refugee trauma because of a traumatic developmental environment, including where a caregiver is the cause of distress or when the caregiver cannot emotionally contain a child responding to overwhelming stress or trauma. Moreover, a sizable group of clients are exposed to developmental trauma as a direct consequence of refugee experiences, such as the loss of significant attachment figures including both parents, inability of the parents to provide basic needs and emotional containment to child due to their own trauma. In this Clinical Master Class, Associate Professor Dr Loyola McLean will bring her clinical expertise to the topic of developmental trauma; its presentation and treatment in adult survivors. Mirjana Askovic, STARTTS’ Neurofeedback Coordinator and a psychologist, will demonstrate STARTTS’ work on this complex topic with a case study.

Note that this event will be held 6.30-8pm, Australian Eastern Daylight Time

Online via Zoom

Previous Clinical Master Classes 2020

Managing Chronic Pain with Torture and Trauma Survivors

Held on 13 May 2020

A/Prof Anthony Richardson
Psychiatrist, St Vincents Hospital
Bio and abstract

Hugh Churchward
Orthobionomist, STARTTS
Bio and abstract

Event outline

Refugee survivors of torture and trauma often present with chronic pain and general body discomfort in the form of headaches, body aches and pains, and muscle tension, without a medical diagnosis or apparent physical cause. In addition, clients from refugee backgrounds can suffer from a range of physical conditions as a result of injuries sustained from torture and other types of violence. Contemporary research in trauma highlights that body focused interventions such as relaxation training, physiotherapy, massage and acupuncture can be extremely helpful in treating trauma survivors. In this Clinical Master Class Associate Professor Tony Richardson will talk about managing chronic pain with trauma survivors, while Hugh Churchward, an experienced and highly skilled STARTTS physiotherapist, will demonstrate STARTTS’ work with a case study of one his clients.

These lectures were recorded and can be viewed later for a fee at Owl Talks Lectures

Prolonged Grief Among Refugees: From Research to Clinical Implications and Treatment

Held on 10 June 2020

Professor Richard Bryant
Scientia Professor of Psychology
University of NSW

Nooria Mehraby
Clinician Trainer, Master of Counselling
Bio and abstract

Event outline

Grief is a multifaceted response to loss. Refugees generally experience multiple losses in their lives, making grief a defining characteristic of clients from refugee backgrounds. Refugee experiences can rupture the bonds of love and connectedness to family, friends, and community, thus breaking the survivors’ sense of trust, security and justice both at individual and collective levels. Those bereaved may be at risk for prolonged grief, their resiliency impeded by the severity of the event and the perceived maltreatment of human beings as well as cultural bereavement and multiplicity of settlement problems. In this Clinical Master Class Professor Richard Bryant will give an overview of recent research on prolonged grief amongst refugees, the clinical implications and treatment. Nooria Mehraby, a senior clinician and STARTTS clinician trainer, with over 30 years experiences in working with refugees, including 25 years of work at STARTTS, will illustrate STARTTS’ work with a case study of a Syrian refugee client.

Providing Holistic Support to Torture and Refugee Trauma Survivors during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Best Practice Examples from Australia and Europe

Held on 22 July 2020

Anette Carnemalm
Psychologist, Head of Operations
Swedish Red Cross
Abstract and bio

Lina Ishu
Youth Team Leader
Abstract and bio

Rudy Gonzalez
Psychologist, General Manager Practice Development and Learning, VFST Victoria
Abstract and bio

Event outline

This Clinical Master Class will explore how three torture and trauma rehabilitation services from Australia and Europe quickly adapted from face-to-face to remote services, to be able to respond to the unique challenges faced by survivors of torture and refugee trauma during the COVID-19 pandemic.

These impacts of COVID-19 have been specifically colossal for vulnerable groups of our society such as refugees. In addition to the day to day impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, refuges are faced with additional challenges such as having resettlement put on hold, to delays in the progress of their applications, as well as triggers of their previous trauma and multiple losses. These challenges have intensified existing symptoms of PTSD, anxiety and depression, grief reactions, and have also created further panic, anxiety and fear regarding Covid-19 pandemic. It has been also a challenge for organisations who provide support and rehabilitation services for refugees, as most have been forced to quickly adjust providing face-to-face services to providing interventions using remote technology.

The presentations by three highly competent national and international speakers will be followed by a Q&A panel discussion with active participation from the audience.

Treating Complex PTSD with Psychotic Features due to Torture and Refugee Trauma

Held on 23 September 2020

Professor Zachary Steel
Professorial Chair
St John of God Hospital
Bio and abstract

Joshua Hall
Psychologist/ Trainer
Bio and abstract

Event outline

Refugee survivors of torture and trauma who have experienced cumulative, intense traumatic experiences and multiple losses may have complex presentations including complex PTSD with psychotic features. The presence of psychosis in the context of PTSD has been identified amongst our clients, creating challenges for clinicians in treating such clients. In this Clinical Master Class, Professor Zachary Steel will give an overview of complex PTSD with psychotic features, including strategies for containing, managing clients and appropriate referral. Joshua Hall, a Clinical Psychologist, will illustrate STARTTS’ work with a case study of one of his clients.

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 held at STARTTS’ Carramar office from 6-8pm. Light refreshments are provided. If you can’t make it to Carramar, there is the option of watching the event live over the internet (see below for more details).

If you can’t make it to Carramar, then you can save on time and petrol by watching the free live webinar of these events from your own computer. You will be able to participate in the panel discussion by sending in your typed questions which are answered live. Just go to Owl Talks at and click on ‘Live events’ in the main navigation bar and scroll down to the relevant STARTTS event. No need to register.

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

STARTTS – 152-168 The Horsley Drive Carramar NSW

Time: 6-8pm

On-site parking is available. Drive into Mitchell St at the cross-road with The Horsley Drive. Turn into the driveway on the right between Fairfield Community Health Centre and the Ambulance Station. Follow the signs to STARTTS.

The Carramar site is approximately 10 minutes walk from Carramar station and 15 minutes from Fairfield station. Alternatively, take the 904 or 905 bus from Fairfield station.


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