Monday, March 29, 2010

Out and About

Your blog editor was out and about at events around Cape Town in March. I attended a workshop on Transgenerational Transmission of Trauma presented by Professor Kaethe Weingarten from Harvard Medical School. She talked about the need to consider the impact on child witnesses in situations of violence. Their psychobiological response to violence is similar to that of the victims. They too become transmitters of transgenerational trauma. To appreciate the depth of her work and thinking, take a look at her website, The Witnessing Project.
The following week Miriam Fredericks and I attended a stimulating symposium organised by Debbie Kaminer from the Psychology Department at UCT on Continuous Traumatic Stress in South Africa: Towards a Collaborative Research Agenda. It was an impressive gathering......

of academics, researchers and practitioners, including partners like Ilse Ahrends from SBC and Monica Bandeira from CSVR. Craig Higson-Smith, our consultant on many issues especially monitoring and evaluation, responded in his usual incisive way to an important
paper on Continuous Trauma presented by Sarah Crawford-Browne and Lane Benjamin (both former colleagues). Lane used the work of the community organisation she started in Hanover Park, (CASE) to try to understand this phenomenon. Other former colleagues from the Trauma Centre who participated were Kirsten Thompson and Wonique Dreyer. Sia Maw, now a lecturer at UCT, discussed the challenges she has encountered in using different research instruments to measure the extent of trauma in women who have been raped. We began to discuss how we might collaborate and we decided to have another symposium next year.

Craig Higson Smith has an excellent website full of resources; he shares his clear thinking on many issues, and even flags job opportunities in far-flung places!

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Human Rights Open Day

The Trauma Centre hosted an Open Day on Friday 19th March

Human Rights Day (March 21st 2010) marked the 50th anniversary of protests against the pass laws, one of which ended in a massacre at Sharpeville.

We commemorated these events and celebrated the achievements of Cowley House and the Trauma Centre in upholding principles of Human Rights for the past 30 years.

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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Can Trauma Counselling be Harmful?

The earthquake disaster in Haiti, has resulted in a number of articles being published as guides or reminders to relief workers both in the frontlines but also in subsequent stages when emotional support becomes more critical.
Cathy Malchiodi expresses her reservations about debriefing in an article in Psychology Today.
"How the body reacts to remembering a traumatic event is a critical aspect that must be addressed when a narrative emerges or is encouraged at any stage of intervention. Unfortunately, many incident debriefers do not know the simple principles of "putting on the brakes" when it comes to how the body reacts when recalling a distressing event.

Therapist Babette Rothschild coined this phrase to describe the necessity of slowing down the body's reactions. She believes that it is not good practice to proceed with a trauma narrative unless both client and therapist first know how to find and apply these brakes."

The Trauma Centre stopped doing Critical Incidence Stress Debriefing about 6 or 7 years ago. Unfortunately the word 'debriefing' is still used by both consumers and some providers, to describe group sessions in which a recent trauma is addressed.

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