Trauma and domestic violence

This workshop will cover understanding trauma, including defining trauma and the neurology and psychology of trauma and trauma and domestic violence, including trauima and victimisation, trauma and perpetration and working with traumatised individuals.


The session will begin by defining trauma and exploring exposure to potentially traumatic events. These will include both primary exposure (such as childhood abuse and domestic violence victimisation) and secondary exposure (such as witnessing violence or being told about traumatic events).  The reason why such events may lead to psychological distress and behavioural dysfunction will be explored using both theoretical and clinical literature. Factors that mediate the impact that trauma may have will be discussed, including both those that increase vulnerability to trauma-related difficulties, and those that have been found to be protective.

The session will then apply this understanding to domestic violence ‘victims’ and ‘victim/perpetrators’. Current theories will be explored and discussed in terms of the current empirical evidence. The impact of traumatisation on psychological functioning within intimate relationships will be explored. The psychological consequences of traumatisation will be discussed in relation to domestic violence victimisation and perpetration (including cognitive distortions, emotional dysregulation and interpersonal difficulties that may lead to coercive and violent behaviour).

The session will end with a discussion of potential tools that can be used for assessment of clients for trauma exposure and symtomology.  The evidence for effective interventions for treating trauma will be explored. Additionally, responsive techniques that can be used with trauma victims in non-trauma focused therapies will also be discussed.

The sessions will be ‘hands on’ and will used a variety of techniques to engage delegates and aid deep processing of information and subsequent learning. These techniques will include group discussion, Socratic questioning and creative thinking techniques such as the lotus blossom. The approach will be one of collaborative learning rather than ‘chalk and talk’ teaching. 


Registration from 09:30

Workshop starts: 10:00

Workshop ends: 16:30

Psychoplogical theory underpinning the event

Recent psychological understanding of neurology and psychology of trauma suggests that trauma can have a pervasive negative effect on psychological functioning. Neurological research suggests that psychological trauma can result in biological changes in both the dysregulation of neurochemical systems and alter brain function and structure (Blaire, 2009). These can result in emotional. Trauma induced changes to Brocas’ area can also lead to individuals experiencing intense emotions whilst at the same time being unable to label or understand them (Hull, 2002). Where trauma has been experienced within the home environment (such as witnessing parental conflict), learning theory would predict that this would lead similar behaviours in their offspring (Van Doorn, Branje,  & Meeus, 2007). Exposure to trauma may result in an individual developing hostile and negative expectancies which would then increase negative effect in the event of a new potentially threatening situation. This negative effect may lead the individual to respond to potential threat with inappropriate coping behaviours. Therefore, this cognitive-contextual framework suggests that those individuals who have been exposed to trauma related experiences would show sensitisation across three domains, reflecting difficulties in maintaining their sense of emotional security. These domains are: emotional regulation, exposure regulation and internal representations. Emotional dysregulation is directly related to increased conflict in intimate relationships (Kim, Pears, Capaldi & Owen, 2009).

Learning outcomes and objectives

  • Develop an understanding of the potential causes of traumatisation
  • Develop an awareness of the neurological and psychological impact of traumatic experiences
  • Explore the role that trauma can play in contributing to a vulnerability to domestic violence
  • Victimisation and how it may impact of victim responses to domestic violence
  • Be able to discuss how trauma can contribute to the perpetration of domestic violence
  • Explore the interventions with traumatic individuals including assessment and interventions

Facilitator: Dr Nicola Graham-Kevan 

Dr Graham-Kevan is a chartered psychologist and a chartered  She is the president of The International Family Aggression Society, a fellow of The International Society for Research on Aggression, and an associate fellow of the British Psychological Society. She has researched forensic psychology for 14 years and has evaluated, or is presently evaluating, a number of treatment programmes in the UK. She has authored many articles published in peer-reviewed journals, as well as book chapters and reports. She is a contributing author on violence and cognitive skills intervention programmes. Dr Graham-Kevan is trained in cognitive skills and aggression treatment interventions and also delivers therapy to clients who have aggression management difficulties in community and secure settings. She has a BSc in Psychology with Law, an MSc in Forensic Psychology and a PhD in the psychology of violence. She has delivered training in both the UK and US on topics including victims of domestic violence, case formulation, trauma and violence, and violence intervention.

Booking information


• DFP members: £25 + VAT
• Society members: £50 + VAT
• Society non-members: £75 + VAT

How to book:

• Register online using the BPS Shop
• To pay by cheque or request an invoice complete and return the registration form


Tue, 08/11/2011 (All day)
Contact Information: 

BPS Learning Centre

+44 (0)116 2529925

BPS Learning Centre, Division of Forensic Psychology