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Community level interventions in working with torture and trauma survivors – nexus between theory and practice

Community level interventions in working with torture and trauma survivors – nexus between theory and practice

Rebuilding relationships and trust are the essential components in recovery from human induced traumas such as war, imprisonment and torture. Organised violence as state terrorism target and fragment basic community structures and disintegrate relationships. Consequently, in addition to clinical practice, a community development framework for service provision is well placed to address the psychosocial sequelae of organised violence.
 
STARTTS approach to working with our client population involves conceptualising the issues as a complex interplay between the consequences of torture and refugee trauma; the process of exile, migration and settlement; and normal life cycle events. Additionally, individual and environmental characteristics are taken into account.
Not only does this interplay occur on individual and family levels, but also it is clearly visible on the level of refugee communities. As refugee communities survive trauma and exile, the nature of relationships and structures inevitably changes. Furthermore, a refugee community in exile, even though it is perceived by outsiders to be a “community”, is often a scattered group of individuals and families struggling to establish networks while dealing with psychosocial consequences of torture and refugee trauma.
 
Consequently, STARTTS work is based on the bio-psyco-social systemic approach and it consists of a balance between community development and clinical approaches. These two facets of our work are seen as spots on a continuum rather than opposing philosophical and value-based positions. Additionally, STARTTS is firmly committed to community participation, empowerment and capacity building.
 
This paper explores the impact of organised violence on communities and above mentioned theoretical frameworks as well as the actual community development work STARTTS has undertaken over the years. The examples provided will include community infrastructure building, group-work, community participation, community skill development, and assisting the communities to access the external and recognise and utilise the internal resources. The paper will look at both, strengths and challenges associated with these approaches, and propose a model for working with refugee communities in exile.
Areas of Interest / Categories: Community Therapy, STARTTS 2013, Torture and Trauma, Trauma

STARTTS 2013

Resolving guilt and shame after trauma: Utilising CBT and ACT techniques.

Shame and guilt are significant facets of post trauma reactions, frequently found in the presentations of many of STARTTS’ clients. Often these require culturally informed interventions.

The Conversational Model approach to guilt and shame associated with trauma.

Shame and guilt are expressions of a Self, seriously wounded, in a relational context. Guilt is more overt, whereas shame, a complex affect, presents a threat of personal annihilation, is sequestered non-consciously, blocking expression of affect and creating considerable difficulty for the individual. Trauma has primary effects on the psychological sense of Self, on the systems of attachment and meaning that link individuals and communities. It destroys fundamental assumptions of safety. Trauma calls into question basic human relationships; it breaches attachment and undermines the belief system that gives meaning to human experiences. Displacement, dispossession, betrayal, violence, insecurity and helplessness are shameprovoking experiences, where guilt of varying proportions is part of the experience of some individuals.  

Applying an acculturation lens for better working with refugee families and communities

New and emerging communities experience varying inequalities while seeking to settle in Australia. Evidence shows that the level of inequality varies according to the degree of cultural transition. Acculturation has actually become a dominant framework used to explain disparities among minority groups. A/Prof Renzaho will show how social exclusion and alienation impact on the physical and socio-psychological health of people from refugee backgrounds and, how families, communities and service providers can respond to these challenges. 

Assisting cultural transition using the Families In Cultural Transition (FICT) program.

In this presentation Mohamed explores how a STARTTS designed group-based program called Families in Cultural Transition (FICT) assists refugee individuals, families and communities deal with the impact

Assisting cultural transition using the Families In Cultural Transition (FICT) program.

In this presentation Mohamed explores how a STARTTS designed group-based program called Families in Cultural Transition (FICT) assists refugee individuals, families and communities deal with the impact

Applying an acculturation lens for better working with refugee families and communities

New and emerging communities experience varying inequalities while seeking to settle in Australia. Evidence shows that the level of inequality varies according to the degree of cultural transition. Acculturation has actually become a dominant framework used to explain disparities among minority groups. A/Prof Renzaho will show how social exclusion and alienation impact on the physical and socio-psychological health of people from refugee backgrounds and, how families, communities and service providers can respond to these challenges. 

Thinking about loss, identity and culture in the context of refugee trauma

Refugee experiences are complex interactions of torture, trauma, exile, migration, settlement and normal life cycle issues. These experiences give rise to a deep sense of loss - loss of family, friends,