Working With Trauma – 2019 Online Symposium


Working With Trauma – Online Symposium

This year’s conference on WORKING WITH TRAUMA is a sell-out. Only 320 places were available and with another 45 people still on the waiting list, PACFA has decided to open up some of the conference presentations to a wider audience.

PACFA is will hold an Online Symposium on 20 and 21 September 2019 which will include a selection of high quality presentations and the keynote addresses in webinar format.

This is a great opportunity for those who missed out on a place at the conference, or who could not attend because of distance or cost, to have access to the great professional development material on the theme, WORKING WITH TRAUMA.  There will be seven hours of live interactive webinars featuring the best presentations from the conference, and two recorded keynote addresses from the conference.

The Online Symposium will explore key aspects of trauma practice and research with an emphasis on culturally informed approaches to promoting trauma recovery in Australia today. Practitioners and researchers will present on key aspects of their work and research with trauma.

The Online Symposium will provide opportunities to engage in dialogue with trauma practitioners specialising in a variety of therapy modalities. These conversations will be facilitated in interactive webinars. PACFA warmly invite you to join us online to be a part of the discussion.


PACFA CPD hours for PACFA Members and Registrants
Category A CPD – 7 hours
Category B CPD- 2.5 hours

Registration fee
Members: $190
Student Members: $120
Non-members: $290

Online webinar  

Program here.

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 Neuropsychotherapy and has trained in the Partners of Sexual Addicts Trauma model.

Dr 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.

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.


Please note, your link to attend each webinar will be sent 10 days prior to the symposium via conference@pacfa.org.au, please check your junk and spam folders and if you are not able to locate the link please call the office or email conference@pacfa.org.au , The portal and admin email addresses will not be monitored outside of business hours when the webinar commences.

Cancellations made 5 or less working days prior to the course commencement date are 100% non-refundable. 
Cancellations made more than 5 working days prior to the course commencement date may apply via email to admin@pacfa.org.au for a 50% refund. 
Alternatively, course bookings may be transferred to another person or to a future course or event. 
Requests to transfer must be made via email to admin@pacfa.org.au prior to the course commencing. 
After the commencement date/time of the course, no refunds or transfers are possible.

Register via the PACFA PORTAL 

20/09/2019 - 21/09/2019
3:00 pm - 4:15 pm

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