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Working with Refugee Survivors of Transgenerational Trauma

Clinical Master Class Evening held on 30 March 2016

Trauma travels and healing happens when we know the power of story

Professor Judith Atkinson

Judy-Atkinson-PortraitTo leave your country of birth because it has become unsafe is hard. Staying in a refugee camp for years is hard. Moving to a new country with different cultural, social and political processes is also hard. Traumatic experiences may be layered across these different situations. As we move away from this pain and distress, we take our stories with us. They live within us. They become transgenerational. The stories are important. They hold us to who we are as cultural and spiritual beings, being formed by social and political circumstances beyond our control. In this new country, there are also stories, held by the ancient people of these lands now called Australia, stories held across generations, stories of struggle and survival, pain and distress. But also a welcome, dadirri. Dadirri – a special quality, a unique gift – is inner deep listening and quiet still awareness. This ancient mindfulness practice also comes with an understanding – all people matter, all of us can belong. Shared stories can bring about a shared healing. How do we make this happen, when what binds us are our trauma stories? Can these stories shared between us, become transformative?

The transgenerational transmission of trauma:
Can anyone really tell your story except you?

Neeraja Sanmuhanathan

Neeraja-PortraitExposure to war is often chronic and repeated, lasting a few months to a number of years and often generations. Transgenerational trauma is trauma that is transferred from the first generation of trauma survivors to the second and further generations of offspring of the survivors through complex post-traumatic stress disorder mechanisms. Over the past five decades, clinicians and researchers have investigated the impact of trauma that has been passed onto children from survivors. Many studies suggest that there are distinct psychopathological symptoms in offspring of survivors of torture and trauma. Trauma is complex and there are individual differences in how trauma impacts upon adult lives. In this presentation, Neeraja Sanmuhanathan will present a case study of a Tamil asylum seeker who presented with symptoms of depression, anxiety and complex trauma. This case study will explore the physical, psychosocial, and spiritual impact of transgenerational trauma on individuals, families and refugee communities. Client’s presenting symptoms and clinical interventions that were utilised within the therapeutic relationship will also be discussed


Recorded lectures

These events are recorded by Owl Talks Lectures and are available for viewing on the internet at a later date for a fee.

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