5D Family violence
One hour symposium – Transforming Trauma
In the last two decades advances in neuroscience have given us a better understanding of how trauma changes brain development, self-regulation, and the capacity to stay focused and in tune with others.
The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study in the US has shown a direct link between abuse and other potentially damaging childhood experiences and adult disease and morbidity, including a powerful graded relationship between adverse childhood experiences and risk of attempted suicide throughout the life span. Childhood maltreatment is the leading preventable cause of chronic mental illness and is associated with high rates of comorbid clinical and subclinical symptoms, which complicate treatment and management. Understanding many of the fundamental processes that underlie traumatic stress opens the door to an array of interventions that can bring the brain areas related to self-regulation, self, perception, and attention back online. “If trauma is encoded in heartbreaking and gut wrenching sensations, then our first priority is to help people move out of flight and fight states, reorganise their perception of danger, and manage relationships.”
The challenge for Family Relationship Services is how we go about integrating advances in neuroscience and the fundamental processes that underlie traumatic stress into traditional talk therapy programs. The seminar will be comprised of three Ted Talk length presentations of twenty minutes followed by about 30 minutes facilitated Q & A and discussion from the floor.
Dr Catherine Or, a neuropsychologist academic working at Swinburne University, completed her post-doctoral training at the University of Vermont where she worked with children in the foster care system on a project studying neurobiological correlates of risk and resilience following early adversity. Dr Orr writes: “Neurodevelopmental adaptations have been proposed to link early experiences of abuse or neglect and long-term mental health outcomes, but our understanding of the specific mechanisms leading to the development of symptoms remains poorly understood. The bulk of the neuroimaging research is conducted in adult survivors of childhood maltreatment.” Her presentation will review the research describing neurobiological mechanisms of mental illness and resilience in young people at risk of complex, chronic mental health complaints due to their early life experiences. She will discuss ongoing projects and areas in need of further research. In particular, resilience and protective factors remain understudied in the neurobiological literature but have the potential to offer insight into the mechanisms by which interventions and therapies may be effective.
Summah Hemming is a mental health accredited social worker and counsellor, working with Relationships Australia Victoria (RAV). Summah has extensive experience working with victims of family violence and sexual abuse and assault. She has also provided trauma focused counselling at headspace Hawthorn. Her presentation will focus on “Right Now”, an evidence informed somatic regulation-based group intervention for adult women who present with histories of interpersonal trauma. Developed by Relationships Australia Victoria (RAV) the program has also been run for adolescents and younger adults at headspace. It incorporates trauma sensitive yoga, mindfulness, and other somatic-based interventions, such as sensory integration and motor strategies. Summah is well placed to discuss the interface and integration of these somatic regulation approaches with talk therapy.
The third presenter, Anu Krishnan is an Applied Psychologist and Social Researcher with extensive experience in working with migrant women affected by violence and trauma. Anu writes, “Migrant women often experience great trauma, separation, loss of identity and self during the migration process. Frequently the trauma is exacerbated with violence against them – physical, emotional and psychological.” Anu has developed a group program, Building Bridges that uses the key principles of narration, storytelling and safe spaces to empower women to share their truth and build resilience and let go of trauma to heal. This culturally informed approach uses traditional stories, myths, and storylines from popular culture to enable women to talk on neutral terms about difficult issues and provide safe ways for them to talk about challenges and trauma in their lives. Anu’s presentation will describe the theory of change that informs her approach- storytelling has long been recognised as a way of way of dealing with inner disturbance- and she will talk about how she incorporates dance, movement, and music within the narrative framework.
The presenters and symposium attendees will be invited to discuss the themes raised by the presentations and to discuss what further work needs to be done in terms of research and workforce capacity building.
Simon Curran is a Senior Manager at Relationships Australia Victoria and lead investigator of a research project, funded by the Iverson Health Foundation, addressing loneliness in older adults. He recently presented at the 2018 Elder Abuse Conference on an elder abuse prevention program supported by a Victorian State Trustees grant.
Senior Lecturer at Swinburne University of Technology, Dr. Or was awarded her MPsych (Clinical Neuropsychology)/Ph.D. from the University of Melbourne. She completed postdoctoral training at the University of Vermont working with children in the foster care system on a project studying neurobiological correlates of risk and resilience following early adversity.
Psychologist & Social Researcher, Anu Krishnan has worked with schools, families, curriculum bodies, NFP and corporates to deliver culturally informed education and therapeutic projects including migrant experience of trauma. Anu brings over 25 years of experience in the field, lived experience, and a wealth of cultural knowledge into her work.
Summah Hemming is a mental health accredited social worker and counsellor, working with Relationships Australia Victoria (RAV). Summah has extensive experience working with victims of family violence and sexual abuse and assault. She has also provided trauma focused counselling at headspace Hawthorn.