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Clinical Master Classes 2019

The Challenge of Working Clinically with Children Severely Traumatised by the Experience of Offshore Detention on Nauru

Held on 13 March 2019

Naila Hassan
Early Childhood Counsellor

Prof David Issacs
Westmead Children’s Hospital
Bio and abstract

Amritha Aparnadas
OSSTT, Nauru
Bio and abstract

Evening outline

Refugee children who are detained in Australian offshore detention on Nauru have usually survived a multitude of traumatic experiences. Some were conceived or born on Nauru; while others arrived in Australia with their parents and were sent offshore where they spent the most critical development stage of their lives exposed to perpetual trauma, insecurity and fear for their safety. In this clinical master class, Bernadette McGrath (CEO) and Amritha Aparnadas (counsellor) from OSSTT, a torture and trauma counselling service working in Nauru, will discuss the practice of trauma informed counselling and group work with children of asylum seekers and refugees detained on Nauru, and the outcomes achieved using the limited resources available on the island. Following this, Professor David Isaacs, who works and conducts research at both the Westmead Children’s Hospital and the University of Sydney, will elaborate on providing care for children after they are transferred from Nauru to Australia for treatment for infections and psychiatric problems. He will also explore some of the challenges faced in caring for these refugee children and their families in hospital settings. Finally STARTTS’ work with some of these children and their families in Australia, will be illustrated with a case study by Naila Hassan, STARTTS’s Early Childhood Counsellor. The PowerPoint slides will not be made available for this event.

Borderline Personality Traits in Traumatised Refugee Presentations: Implications for Assessment and Treatment

Held on 8 May 2019

Dr Anthony Korner
Psychiatrist, University of Sydney
Bio and abstract

Dominica Dorning
Clinical Psychologist/ Counsellor, STARTTS
Bio and abstract

Evening outline

This Clinical Master Class will look at presence of borderline personality traits among clients with a refugee trauma background in the context of treating symptoms of post-traumatic stress. It will reflect on the barriers clinicians often encounter, such as a reluctance to explore childhood experiences, and the relational complexities that become evident in transference and countertransference. Dr Anthony Korner will further explore the origins of borderline personality traits and adapting treatment to suit the client’s needs, aiming at managing borderline personality traits alongside with managing PTSD. Dominica Dorning will illustrate this with a case study of a client from a refugee background. Note that the PowerPoint slides for this event will not be made available.

Clinical Challenges and Opportunities in Working with Child Protection in the Context of Cultural Diversity and Refugee Trauma

Held on 3 July 2019

Jatinder Kaur
Director/ Mental Health Social Worker
JK Diversity Consultants
Bio and abstract

Hannah Jamaleddine
Counsellor/ Project Officer
Bio and abstract

Evening outline

Refugee communities in Australia are incredibly diverse, and this diversity can include differences within communities. Child protection can be a sensitive issue amongst refugee communities and can pose many challenges for workers. Working in a culturally appropriate manner, utilising cultural and religious beliefs about child protection, can provide a great opportunity for clinicians. The Clinical Master Class, presented by Ms Jatinder Kaur and Hannah Jamaleddine, will discuss best practice on how to approach the complexities when child protection issues arise in a clinical setting when treating clients from refugee backgrounds from diverse communities.

Self-Care in Working with Torture and Trauma Survivors: Professional Boundaries, Transference and Countertransference

Held on 7 August 2019

Dr George Lianos
Psychiatrist, Private Practice

Deb Gould
Psychologist/ Clinical Consultant, STARTTS

Evening outline

Working with survivors of torture and refugee trauma is rewarding and inspiring. However, clinicians who are working with people who have experienced war trauma and the impact of state sponsored terrorism will undoubtedly be personally affected by hearing about these traumatic events, and by witnessing the considerable impact and distress they can cause. Therefore working with survivors of profound trauma and injustice is complex. Maintaining good self-care and professional boundaries, as well as dealing with issues of transference and countertransference can be challenging. In this Clinical Master Class, Dr George Lianos and Deb Gould will explore these complex processes and suggest strategies which allow us to practice our unique profession in ways which are safe, sustainable and aim to develop post traumatic growth and resilience.

Challenges of Working Clinically with Domestic Violence when the Perpetrator is also a Torture and Refugee Trauma Survivor

Held on 18 September 2019

A/Prof Susan Rees
Faculty of Medicine, UNSW
Bio and abstract

Kat Mikhailouskaya
Counsellor/ Project Officer, STARTTS

Evening outline

Male survivors of torture may be at higher risk of enacting violence within the family. Family violence includes Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) targeting the spouse, violence and aggression toward children, and harmful exposure of children to IPV. In this Clinical Master Class Associate Professor Susan Rees will explore the evidence for a multifaceted approach to intervention with men who may be torture and trauma survivors and perpetrators of IPV. Key areas for consideration will be: taking a ‘whole of family’ approach without risking the safety of the partner and children; considering patriarchy, cultural norms and contemporary Australian expectations and laws regarding IPV; the association between war, masculinity, and the perceived loss of male power during settlement. Kat Mikhailouskaya, a STARTTS Counsellor, will illustrate STARTTS’s work with a case study of a male client who was a survivor of torture and trauma and a perpetrator of IPV.

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