Clinical Master Classes 2018

Determinants of Wellbeing in Children from Refugee Backgrounds: From Research to Clinical Implications and Treatment

Held 21 February 2018


A/Professor Karen Zwi
School of Women’s and Children’s Health, UNSW
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Julie-Anne Younis
Senior Child and Adolescent Counsellor, STARTTS
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Children from refugee backgrounds arriving in Australia have usually survived a multitude of traumatic experiences in their country of origin. Exposed to war, persecution, extreme deprivation and sometimes torture, they are prone to post traumatic stress disorder and physical ailments. In this clinical evening, Associate Professor Karen Zwi will use results from a longitudinal study to explore the protective factors associated with social-emotional wellbeing of children from refugee backgrounds in the first three years of settlement in Australia. Results of the study indicated that cumulative protective factors, some of which are potentially modifiable, can predict social-emotional well-being in newly arrived children from refugee backgrounds. Children with four or more protective factors are at low risk of poor social-emotional wellbeing. Identification of children with fewer protective factors allows proactive follow-up to improve settlement outcomes. Julie Ann Younis, STARTTS’s Senior Child and Adolescent Counsellor, will illustrate  this with a case study of Arezo, a 16 year girl from a refugee background who came from Iran to Australia under the humanitarian program. Her internal and external protective factors were a significant part of her recovery.

Contextual Thinking in Providing Integrative Clinical and Community Approaches in Treating Survivors of Torture and Refugee Trauma

Held 6 June 2018


A/Professor Paul Rhodes
Lecturer, Clinical Psychology Unit
University of Sydney
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Sivaharani Mayuran
Counsellor/ Project Officer
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The aim of this presentation is to advocate for clinicians and counsellors to engage with community-based approaches to mental health, beyond the confines of the therapy room. This serves as a direct challenge to the core tenets of our professional training, including an emphasis on individualism, psychopathology and expert-driven intervention. We need the mental health profession to decolonise itself to better respond to the needs of people from collectivist cultures, and those suffering severe and enduring mental health problems. In this presentation A/professor Paul Rhodes will give a short history of community psychology overseas and in Australia, describe the core tenets of a community-based approach to mental health and describe research methodologies that are consistent with this approach. STARTTS direct service counsellor Sivaharani Mayuran will illustrate this with presenting her integrative work with the Tamil Community assisting many people who fled Sri Lanka in their recovery from torture and other traumatic events.

Refugee Trauma and Suicidality: Suicide Prevention, Protective Factors, Risk Assessment and Interventions

Held 31 July 2018


Professor Nicholas Procter
Chair, Mental Health Nursing
University of South Australia
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Tess Reddel
Counsellor/ Project Officer
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Suicidality, including suicide ideation, attempts, and suicide completion are among the serious mental health problems that may be associated with complex trauma and refugee experiences. In particular, asylum seekers are at a higher risk of suicide because of the difficult positions that they are in. However, not all people with suicide risk factors attempt suicide. Knowing the common risk factors can help identify those who may be most at risk and in need of further assessment and assistance. Some risk factors cannot be changed; however some factors could themselves become targets of treatment. In this clinical master class presentation Professor Nicholas Procter will give an overview of suicide risk assessment, strengthening protective factors, suicide prevention and interventions. He will further explore culture-specific warning signs when someone is considering suicide. Working with family and with the relevant communities can help educate and identify cultural expressions of distress and despair within specific cultural groups, which may lead to suicidality. Tess Reddel, a STARTTS counsellor, will illustrate this with a case study of an asylum seeker with a history of suicidality.

Reconnection to Community and Self: Treating Refugee Trauma in People who Identify as LGBTQI

Held 19 September 2018


Tina Dixson
LGBTQI, Refugee and Women’s
Rights Activist
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Shaheen Pordily
Psychologist, Neurofeedback Counsellor
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Discrimination or persecution due to gender identity or sexuality has led to the deaths and flight to safety of hundreds of thousands of people globally. The psychological toll of living in a context where intimate aspects of the self are targeted and create danger from external sources is huge and long term. It also frequently compounds a negative sense of self generated by internal or family of origin dynamics. Being a member of the LGBTQI community means vastly different things depending on the other communities they belong, which can create difficulties that complicate resettlement and recovery in ways that clinicians might be unaware. In this clinical master class, Tina Dixson will explore lived experiences in the multiplicity from pre-departure, to the life seeking asylum, and after obtaining refugee status. Placing particular focus on the life after; she questions whether the discovery and embrace of the multiplicity of the new refugee identity still remains ongoing, and whether in a new safe home, queer refugee women may still be coming to terms with oppression, discrimination or violence. A clinical case presentation by a STARTTS counsellor will illustrate the complexity of working with this client group aiming to gain a sense of connection, belonging and identity and in their new country.

Impact of Torture and Trauma on the Neuro-development and Attachment of People from Refugee Backgrounds with Disability

Held 14 November 2018


Sejla Murdoch
Psychologist/Neurofeedback Counsellor
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This clinical evening will explore the impact of complex trauma on the area of developmental delay and intellectual disability. Children who have a history of adverse life experiences can develop intellectual disability affecting not only individuals but their families and caregivers, which often requires multilevel interventions. On the other hand, what are the impacts of refugee trauma on people with pre-existing intellectual disability and how this individual is seen and supported in a traumatised family? How do we work clinically with this client group? In this clinical evening Lesley Whatson and Katrina Halpin will share their expertise with us on the impact of torture and trauma on the Neuro-development and attachment of people from refugee backgrounds with an intellectual   disability. This will be followed by a case presentation by a STARTTS counsellor who will demonstrate how to work with traumatised clients with from refugee backgrounds with an intellectual disability. The evening will focus on assessment, intervention and therapy to individuals. There will also be a focus on working with organisations on consulting around case-specific issues, and working with families, carers and support staff. This will also include providing lifestyle and behaviour support plans, and coaching and mentoring to families.

Recorded lectures

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