The Peace Foundation has a skilled and experienced team of caseworkers who provide peer support and psychosocial support for victims and survivors of terrorism throughout the UK. Making sure they are up to date with the latest knowledge and understanding about trauma and trauma recovery so that they can integrate this into their work is one of my key responsibilities as manager of the team.
This week, the team have been attending the ‘Virtual Trauma Recovery Summit 2021’. This 3-day event, run by ‘Trauma Action’, is being hosted live from Belfast’s Titanic centre and brings together world-leading experts with over 600 practitioners from around the globe working in the field of trauma recovery.
Sessions have included the ‘Trauma-Informed Approach’; Mindfulness; the use of EMDR; adapting to Online Therapy; and many other topics. Clare North, the Peace Foundation’s Health and Wellbeing Caseworker for victims and survivors of the Northern Ireland Troubles, took part in a workshop on Art Therapy and shared a brilliant ‘time lapse’ video of the session.
A key message of the summit, and one that we have always promoted in our work with clients and in our training for professionals, is the importance of the Trauma-Informed Approach’. This means a consistent emphasis on Safety (both for the client and the practitioner); Choice (restoring choice and control); Facilitating connections; Supporting coping; Responding to identity and context; and Building strengths.
The good news is that, in general, people are resilient and, with the right support – provided at the right time, the chances of someone having a healthy outcome from their traumatic experience are good. There are several interventions that are known to be effective including EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitising Reprocessing) and Trauma-focused CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). Although we are not a clinical service, our caseworkers understand what is available and can help you make informed choices about your support.
I have really enjoyed (virtually) coming together with practitioners from all over the world and hearing speakers such as Bessel van der Kolk (one of the world’s foremost experts on trauma and author of the seminal book ‘The Body keeps The Score’) speak about the latest thinking about treatments for trauma but it has been wonderful engaging with other practitioners in the various forums and breakout groups. It is reassuring to see so many people committed to making life better for those affected by trauma.
Our casework team is funded by the Home Office, Victims of Terrorism Unit to provide peer support for victims and survivors of terrorism and by the Northern Ireland Victims and Survivors Service for a health and wellbeing caseworker for victims and survivors of the Northern Ireland Troubles living in GB.
To contact the team for support or to learn more about our work, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have been affected by the Troubles / Conflict, please email: email@example.com or call our office on 01925 581215 (answerphone) or 07957 245685.
By Terry O’hara