In September 2021, STARTTS School Liaison Team Leader, Shaun Nemorin addressed the 2021 conference of the Australasian Conference on Traumatic Stress (ACOTS). Shaun discusses his research into how members of the Rohingya refugee community in Bangladesh conceptualise and describe their distress and mental health. Shaun presents a model for how the idiom of “tension” used by Rohingya research participants relates to a biopsycholsocial understanding of trauma. Shaun argues that the unique cultural heritage of the Rohingya necessitates that their idioms of distress and explanatory models should be the foundation for designing interventions that suit the ecological context in which the Rohingya community live.
On 10 September, STARTTS School Liaison Team Leader, Shaun Nemorin chaired the 2021 conference of the International Society for Health and Human Rights (ISHHR). One of the distinguished speakers was psychologist, activist and social arts facilitator, Hector Aristizábal. In this webinar, Hector, himself a survivor of civil war, trauma and torture, speaks about his work on the “Reconectando” project in Colombia. This project combines deep ecology, social theatre and ritual to support ex-combatants and victims of Colombia’s civil war to heal through their connection to themselves, each other and the earth. The project accompanies the work of the Truth Commission in Colombia.
Warning: This recording contains descriptions of sexual violence, torture and other human rights abuses.
On 21 June 2021, STARTTS School Liaison Team Leader, Shaun Nemorin, was interviewed by David Burns (Founder & CEO of Collective Leisure) about wellbeing, community sport and his personal experiences of vicarious trauma, post traumatic growth and finding belonging in Australia.
On 10 March 2021, School Liaison Officer Nicole Loehr delivered a webinar for PETAA (Primary English Teacher Association Australia), which PETAA have generously made available to the public. In this webinar, Nicole provides a summary of STARTTS services to NSW school communities and offers some introductory tips for teachers on supporting the recovery of students with refugee experience in the classroom.
School Liaison Team Leader, Shaun Nemorin, has created a series of professional learning presentations on the topics of Vicarious Trauma, Vicarious Resilience and Self Care. These videos may assist professionals in the helping professions (such as counsellors, educators and social workers), who work with survivors of refugee trauma. The presentations highlight the potential risks, challenges and opportunities for personal growth, when engaging empathically and professionally with people who have experienced trauma.
This introductory video provides an overview of STARTTS services to schools and provides an outline of the contents of the six videos that make up this series. The presentation also outlines why it is important that we recognise the signs of vicarious trauma, both for ourselves and those around us.
Consequences of Trauma
The STARTTS Biopsychosocial Model is used to conceptualise the multi-level impact of trauma on the individual. The presentation also takes a deeper look at the impact of trauma and vicarious trauma on the brain, highlighting difficulties such as impaired concentration, memory, attention and emotional regulation that can arise.
Impacts on the Practitioner
Vicarious trauma, compassion fatigue and burnout are defined and presented as occupational hazards that can be managed to reduce their impact on practitioners, their clients and the other people in practitioners’ lives. Factors such as work environment, professional status, professional recognition and personal life are discussed with respect to the influence they have on vicarious trauma and associated difficulties. The positive impacts of empathically engaging with clients, such as compassion satisfaction, vicarious resilience and post-traumatic growth, are also discussed.
Karpman’s Drama Triangle is used as a model to explain how practitioners can easily get drawn into the role of “rescuer,” “victim,” or “persecutor” if professional boundaries with clients/students are poorly managed. It is also shown how the Karpman model can be used to identify when boundaries have been crossed by practitioners or when transference (feeling, desires or expectations being projected onto the practitioner by the client/student) or countertransference (feelings, desires or expectations projected onto the client/student by the practitioner) may be occurring. Strategies for exiting the drama triangle are also highlighted. Finally, a continuum of over-involvement to under-involvement is discussed as an aid for identifying current dynamics between practitioner and client/student and for recognising the optimal level of engagement for practitioner and client/student wellbeing.
Resilience and Post-Traumatic Growth
The positive transformations that can emerge out of empathic and professional engagement with survivors of traumatic events are discussed. The presenter highlights how greater awareness of post-traumatic growth and vicarious resilience can increase the likelihood of practitioners benefiting from these phenomena. Conditions that promote opportunities for emotional resilience are also examined.
Self Care and Seeking Support
Self-compassion is presented as a helpful foundational framework for nurturing good self-care. John Arden’s SEEDS model is then discussed in detail and recommended as a model for taking stock of the precursors for good mental and physical health for both clients/students and the practitioners. The importance of reaching out and seeking support in both professional and private domains is emphasised as a critical self-care skill for professionals in the helping professions.