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Dr Judith de Lang
Trauma Informed practice to support people with lived experience of trauma  
‘Trauma informed care’ is now a familiar term to most people in the helping professions but what does it really mean? And how do we provide it?

What happens when we see a client for the first time and they tell us we are their ‘last chance’? Or that they are suicidal? What do we do with a client who tells us they have been diagnosed with one or more psychiatric disorders?

Whether we are aware or not, we all work with clients who have experienced trauma. Many of us ourselves, as practitioners, have experienced trauma.

This webinar will give an overview of the process of trauma informed care as presented in the Practice Guidelines for Treatment of Complex Trauma and Trauma Informed Care and Service Delivery, with practical guidance on how to apply these guidelines in practice.

The presenter will elucidate a model for brief therapy for those living with the effects of trauma which applies the principles of trauma-informed care. The presentation will include a case study, diagrams, strategies and explanations – all with reference to existing research.

Dr Judith de Lang is a trauma and mental health specialist with expertise in health and wellbeing counselling. She is a practitioner and educator committed to the development of new knowledge and clinical practice. Judith is particularly interested in current advancements in the area of neuroplasticity and its links with trauma and recovery. Judith currently works as a Senior Clinical Counsellor at Country Health SA Local Health Network in Adelaide.

Madeleine Fogarty & Dr Jelena Zeleskov Djoric
A Gestalt Therapy approach to working with trauma

In contemporary life people live in the environment which can be defined as trauma society. People are highly stressed and under pressure in many areas of their life. The concept of trauma has been researched in numerous fields and different treatment models try to compete in their effectiveness and efficacy. Evidence-based practice in psychotherapy has become a gold standard and trauma research has been funded and supported more than in the past. However little work has been presented on Gestalt approaches to trauma.

As a humanistic, phenomenological and holistic approach, gestalt therapy has its own model of working with trauma. Trauma is recognised through the contact process and phenomenological presence between the therapist and the client. The aim of this presentation is to highlight the basic understanding of trauma in gestalt therapy and to provide some guidelines for working with trauma. The Gestalt Therapy Fidelity Scale will be introduced as a foundation for this holistic approach which includes dialogic relating, working in the here and now, phenomenological practice, working with embodiment, working with field theory and experimental attitude. During the presentation concepts of aesthetic relational presence, dialogical interventions, the phenomenology of trauma, I-Thou dialogue and specific phases will be discussed.

Madeleine Fogarty is a psychotherapist and researcher living in Melbourne. She has over 20 years’ experience in private practice and has worked in forensic and mental health settings. Madeleine has been widely published in Gestalt therapy. She is completing her PhD in Psychology on the development of the Gestalt Therapy Fidelity Scale. Madeleine is on the leadership group for PACFA’s College of Psychotherapy, a council member of GANZ, a member of the AAGT and NYIGT and she is on the scientific Board for the European Association for Gestalt Therapy.

Dr Jelena Zeleskov Doric, PhD, MSc and BSc Hons in Psychology, BA Hons and MA in Gestalt Therapy, has been involved in psychology and psychotherapy education, supervision, and research for 15 years. Jelena was a Vice-President of the European Association for Gestalt Therapy and a Board member of the European Association for Psychotherapy. Jelena is an International Chair of Gestalt Australia and New Zealand. She lectures at Australian College of Applied Psychology, works in private practice as a Gestalt Psychotherapist and is an active researcher with an interst in the relationship between neuroscience, attachment and gestalt therapy.

Ravi Iyer
A psychodynamic treatment of trauma that informs the decision to gamble: New research

Melbourne Counselling Service provides specialist support to those affected by gambling. An increasing number of gambling presentations are underpinned by traumatic experiences. We recently undertook to analyse our intake data to better conceptualise the nature of these traumatic experiences. Four hundred and fifty-six clients’ intake notes were analysed, obtained over a three-year period. It is our contention that trauma strongly informs the decision to gamble.

We have used thematic analysis to analyse this data. The intention has been to understand better how trauma might be conceptualised in its intersection with gambling. A number of themes were inductively obtained and then matched with demographic characteristics to elicit distinct profiles.

This analysis serves to highlight the interface between trauma and gambling and the marked alexithymia that characterises many of our clients, a presentation in which language cannot readily be applied to the emotional content of these experiences. A psychodynamic lens views this emotional content as housed within an unconscious. The flexibility to fully work through the symbolic dimension of the trauma as embodied in the gambling experience opens opportunities for the emergence of this unconscious material. A case vignette will be presented that highlights our work in addressing this important societal issue.

Ravi Iyer is a senior counsellor at Melbourne Counselling Service, a specialist practice offering free support to those affected by gambling. Ravi has worked in the area of addiction mental health for the past 9 years. Ravi is completing his training in Lacanian Psychoanalysis, but also has a strong interest in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and has presented at conferences in the area of ACT for gambling.

Dr Ruth Lawson-McConnell
Working with complex developmental trauma: Insights and clinical applications from attachment theory, emotion regulation and interpersonal neurobiology

Trauma usually occurs in the context of relationships. Developmental stuckness can be the outcome of severe early trauma. With recent research in the field of neuroscience we have come to understand the hopefulness of neuroplasticity to heal early wounding in the brain. Our understanding of how trauma disrupts the neural pathways connecting the limbic brain with the neo-cortex, has meant that the client’s attachment to an emotionally safe therapist can act as the integrating factor, allowing for co-regulation of overwhelming emotions to enable the client’s ultimate healing process of self-regulation. Attachment theory, which was originally construed as a trauma theory, has now come to be understood as an emotion-regulation theory. In this workshop I will be drawing on the work of Bessel Van der Kolk in terms of the body’s role in healing trauma; the work of interpersonal neurobiologists, Allan Schore’s notion of right-brain to right-brain co-regulation of emotion; Daniel Siegel’s concept of integration (differentiation and linkage) as well as an attachment model developed by the Canadian Developmental psychologist, Gordon Neufeld to explain my work with clients who have suffered complex developmental trauma.

Dr Ruth Lawson-McConnell has more than 28 years counselling experience, having trained and worked in Scotland and Canada before moving to New Zealand. She has taught in Psychology and Counselling degrees in England, New Zealand and Australia and works as a counsellor, supervisor, trainer, retreat leader, conference speaker and writer. Ruth has an MA (Honours) in Social Anthropology/Psychology and a PhD in Counselling Psychology. She is a Professional Associate of the Neufeld Institute (Attachment-based Developmental approach to working with attachment traumas). She also specialises in Neuro-psychotherapy and has trained in the Partners of Sexual Addicts Trauma model.

Elizabeth A Riley
Trans adolescents trauma: Bullies, Blades and Barricades

This workshop aims to support clinicians to work therapeutically with gender diverse adolescents by providing a particular focus on ways they are negatively affected by their experiences and perceptions of interpersonal and intrapersonal environments. The myriad of challenges confronting gender diverse adolescents includes often unrecognized forms of pressure, oppression and restrictions. As a result, gender diverse adolescents may become detached and overwhelmed as they struggle with issues of the self and identity while challenging the very systems that are there to support them.

Utilizing case studies this workshop invites clinicians to recognise multiple expressions of gender diversity, identify the various forms of adversity that gender diverse adolescents face, contextualize the experiences into the defined experiences of bullies, blades and barricades, and explore strategies for engagement and intervention.

The workshop describes the challenges, hardship and dispossession that some gender diverse adolescents face from interpersonal and intrapersonal conflicts, societal pressure and hostility. This workshop is informed by the current research on safety and risks affecting trans youth, the authors clinical experience of trans and gender diverse adolescents, and recommendations in the literature for professional care and support of gender diverse adolescents.

Dr Elizabeth Riley is a Sydney-based counsellor and clinical supervisor with over 20 years’ experience counselling trans people and their families and a PhD titled: ‘The Needs of Gender-Variant Children and Their Parents’. Dr Riley also provides academic supervision (PhD) and training in gender diversity for schools, clinicians and other service providers. She has 13 publications including three book chapters, was a founding member of the Australian & New Zealand Professional Association for Transgender Health, and, is a professional clinical member of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.

Dr Radika Santhanam-Martin
Post-trauma reconstruction with refugee families – is there a role for institutions?

When individuals and families go through traumatic displacement, their sense of connection and belonging to their social networks and communities get severely disrupted. In this period of profound transition, families must recreate, reimagine and reconnect, amidst a new set of people, places and spaces. It is during this transition time that families and individuals, in their resettlement countries, come in contact with service providers from a range of Institutions, including health care, social, welfare and educational organisations.

In this presentation, I want to explore the role of Institutions in re-building the sense of trust and connection post-trauma, for families. Institutions, like families, bring their own socio-political history, which informs their practices and policies. The building of trust and connection between services and families is a highly complex and protean process. When trust and connectedness get built between services and families, this could be considered a form of relational repair. That is, the destruction of human connectedness that occurred in the past has had an opportunity to repair. Alternately, service providers and Institutions can come close to re-enacting the patterns of traumatic experiences that families have experienced in the past.

I want to propose the framework of attachment for considering practice principles for Institutions in the
rebuilding of trust and connection. It is a call for ethical practices in post-trauma reconstruction, yet without pathologizing or blaming either families or Institutions.

Dr Radhika Santhanam-Martin is a clinical psychologist who works in the field of trauma. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in transcultural mental health; has a PhD in developmental neuropsychology; an MPhil in medical and social psychology; Masters in clinical psychology and Bachelors in philosophy. She has more than two decades of experience in therapeutic and clinical practice in India, Canada and Australia.

Currently, she works in Melbourne, Australia across three sectors: Refugees and Asylum seekers; Indigenous families; and Diverse and Emerging communities.

Her major interest areas include: ways of working with cultures, trauma approaches in particular attachment models and somatic interventions, narrative methods of practice, and reflective supervision for groups.

Merle Conyer
Climate change trauma – Impacts and therapeutic response

How often does trauma from climate change risks and effects come up in your therapeutic conversations? To what extent has this been mentioned in your therapeutic training? Awakening to the implications of climate change for our own and the next generations can lead to an existential shattering of deeply held assumptions and beliefs. Pre-traumatic stress, eco-anxiety, solastalgia, psychoterratic syndromes and somaterratic illness – a new lexicon is emerging to describe states of trauma profoundly impacting the lives of people and communities, yet absent from the dominant cultural, political and psychological discourses.

Could it be possible that complex trauma dynamics such as silence, denial, shame, unhealthy adaptations and attachment ruptures inform what Joanna Macy refers to as a “double life” – living our lives as if nothing has changed, whilst knowing that everything has? What is the role of the therapist for noticing and responding to these dynamics when sitting with our clients? How do we offer useful therapeutic support for people experiencing pre-traumatic stress and those already impacted by environmental instability and loss? How might we offer support to people at risk of vicarious trauma and burnout from their efforts to stop violence against the natural world and effect political change? What are the implications for our own awakening and self-care when doing this work?

These ideas will be explored from the perspective of a therapist on a learning curve who feels that as a profession we have an ethical responsibility to be discussing questions such as these.

Merle Conyer offers psychotherapy, supervision, group work, training and consulting services. She works with people and organisations impacted by interpersonal, institutional, political and cultural violence and abuse. In addition to private practice Merle contributes to institutions implementing redress programs, legal services, Aboriginal organisations, agencies informed by social justice and human rights values, and with community-based activists. Merle centres anti-oppressive and decolonising principles in her approach.