The Crisis, Disaster and Trauma Psychology Section exists to provide its members with a central hub where issues of psychological trauma can be explored, research and evidence-based treatments can be examined, and ongoing standards of best practice can be established.
Crisis, Disaster, and Trauma Section News
AGM 2021Show content
The Annual General Meeting of the Crisis, Disaster and Trauma Psychology Section will be held on Friday 18 June 2021 at 1.00pm via Zoom.
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If you have any queries regarding the AGM, nominations or resolutions please email Member Network Services
Our stories - How are trauma-focused psychologists coping with Covid-19
Sharing the experience of being a psychologist during the pandemicShow content
NEW Covid-19 blog - Dr Jai Shree Adhyaru, Consultant Counselling PsychologistShow content
Jai was a valued CDT committee member who stepped down to respond to the demands of Covid-19 in her professional life.
As a psychologist involved in the Grenfell Response in 2017, I hadn't anticipated being involved in a crisis response of a different kind only a few years later. Setting up services to respond to challenging situations has been a core part of my career. Yet Covid-19 provided a new challenge - how to respond to a health crisis that is also affecting me. My initial reactions to the 'stockpiling behaviours' of many left me a little distraught - I live alone and usually buy food daily. I also questioned how I could draw upon my social support network - which is spread far and wide and not local, which became a dilemma for me as work became busier and social isolation increased. This challenge to my daily existence and usual ways of doing things is a key theme that has re-emerged at various points over this past year. Perhaps like many psychologists working through the pandemic, a key challenge was to support clients or a team and manage and contain other peoples' anxieties whilst simultaneously dealing with my own.
The first lockdown found my team prioritising digital literacy in the team and supporting staff to continue service delivery with children and young people whilst working in a non-face-to-face capacity. The digital work also highlighted inequality in digital resources available to our service users, and steps were taken to address this.
Covid-19 specific resources that were widely available (e.g. those produced by the BPS or WHO) were collated and additional resources developed for clinicians to use in their work, addressing uncertainty and anxiety issues that children might be experiencing. In such a situation, some people can be faced with 'information overload' and filtering and summarising key resources was helpful.
Working from home required a different kind of work structure. I often started to work much earlier than if I were going to the office. My pre-commute yoga at home quickly disappeared from my schedule to be replaced with coffee at my desk. After a few months of this, I decided to set aside a later 'lunch break' to get some fresh air after a few weeks of feeling 'chained to my desk'. The absence of ad hoc and unplanned breaks that typically occur in an office setting and the increased opportunity to focus led to me becoming absorbed in tasks and very quickly losing track of time when working at home. In 'Covid-Time', it was effortless to be indoors for days on end without being aware of the lack of exercise that is usually factored into my daily routine.
Yet, the opportunity to collaborate with a range of professionals using Zoom meetings led to greater efficiency in many areas of my work. Materials were edited, produced and disseminated remotely, sharing a set of trauma psycho-education animations that had been developed in the previous year with service users. The post was shared on LinkedIn and it had over 780 views in only two days - an indication of interest that made me feel connected both to my work and to other professionals; a need that social media has been great in fulfilling for me during this period.
I have needed to be aware of what I need and to take responsibility for trying to have these needs met. This had induced regular 'check in' calls with friends in a similar position - working from home and living alone - which has fostered a stronger sense of connection despite physical distance. I have also taken up offers from my NHS Trust, including personal therapy, which I believe is an essential resource and helped me navigate issues that crossed personal-professional domains. Trying to 'make sense' of what is a going on in this global pandemic has also been helped by a connection to spirituality and philosophical perspectives on the necessity and potential benefits of 'ekaanth' or isolation / being with oneself.
NEW Covid-19 blog - Sophie, Registered mental health nurseShow content
Sophie, a CDT member, qualified as a nurse while doing her clinical placement as a mental health nurse on an inpatient dementia ward during the Covid-19 pandemic.
I was watching the evening news and received the announcement, via Matt Hancock, that I was being called up to work on an extended clinical placement for six months to help support the NHS. Initially anxious and uncertain, I knew I wanted to help the NHS but had to balance completing my studies to the best of my ability and to manage my health as I am an epileptic.
I had a huge seizure the night before I started my placement which knocked me off my feet. The next day, I arrived at my placement to discover I was going onto a Covid-19 ward. The reality hit home, and the anxiety actually disappeared. I was no longer imagining what everything may look like or how I would feel being exposed to Covid and such seriously ill patients; I was living it.
Being directly in contact with the illness and having to adapt quickly to provide physical health care to extremely mentally ill patients was an extremely complex task. It is complex to manage your own emotions about an essentially unknown illness and complex in managing my emotions about providing care to individuals with the guidelines changing continuously.
The main challenge with the individuals I supported is that they do not believe they are ill and do not understand the virus, therefore were unable to rest, socially distance, which led to complex health outcomes. Mental health inpatient wards seem to have been forgotten in this pandemic and deal with the most physical and mentally unwell people. The staff I have had the pleasure of working with have gone above and beyond. The threat is constant; we remain on high alert and do everything we can to support and protect our patients as best we can. I feel next year will be the same as this and have taken some comfort in accepting this.
Personally, I find false hope more frustrating and exhausting to believe than accepting the reality we are faced with.
I managed to complete all my modules on time, my dissertation, complete my placement in full and received a distinction. It would not have been possible if it weren't for the wonderful team of staff I have been working with on the wards and the support of the university staff who adapted quickly to the rapidly changing face of higher education.
I am now a newly qualified nurse working on the same ward where I was placed during the initial Covid outbreak. I feel connected to this place, the patients, the staff and the sense of solidarity we have created amongst ourselves. No support has ever been offered to staff to deal with the trauma we have experienced during this pandemic so far, with six deaths in one week and three in one night. The pandemic is shining a light on how underfunded and unprepared we are for the mental health crisis that is already here.
I am proud to join the NHS, proud to be part of the group of people I have the privilege to learn from each day as they support me to become the nurse I hope to be. My ultimate goal is to be a clinical psychologist, but for now, the hands-on experience I am getting and the perspective I have gained have been invaluable. There are some extremely selfless and strong people out there, but without support or feeling valued at a time like this, I fear will result in the biggest mass exodus of staff the NHS has ever seen, the longer the crisis continues to be mishandled and prolonged.
The main thing I have learnt this year is that it has never been more important to be patient, kind, understanding to ourselves, friends, family and, importantly, strangers. We are all in a pressure cooker of emotions, and we need to be there for each other like never before. Be kind.
My Covid-19 blog - Annette Greenwood, CDT Chair and Consultant Clinical PsychologistShow content
"In March I felt comfortable working from home during lockdown. But as the weeks passed it became clear boundaries of longer days, the impact of dealing with complex cases in my study at home were a challenge.
"As time has gone by I have returned to working in my Covid secure department in the hospital. This has had a positive impact on my work and my wellbeing, enabling a chance to connect with colleagues. But I miss the normal social interaction, being spontaneous and having a laugh with friends and family.
With vaccinations in sight I look forward to slowly re-joining the world I had before the pandemic."
My Covid-19 blog - Christina Buxton, Past CDT Chair, currently committee Treasurer; Chartered Psychologist, Chartered ScientistShow content
"Today is a Monday, this morning I woke with a sense of trepidation. Groundhog day again. I have been into the office twice since 18 March, both times to get something to aid my working from home. Cooped up in the corner of the spare room, on an old formica topped table out of a long since gone caravan, two screens and my work PC. A backdrop of my very much needing to be replaced pink curtains, the camera strategically placed to avoid my rail of wardrobe overflow, barely used gym weights and travel bags- this is my office now. A big change from the many sociable face to face meetings, seeing clients in clinic, regular travel in the UK and overseas, and the days where working at home was a respite, a chance to catch up and have some mental space.
"At first the adaptation to this new way of being felt like a challenge, new technology, platforms for teaching, online meeting etiquette, now a social void, lacking drive and motivation, ever present in my home. My days are often back to back Zoom or Teams meetings, online teaching, supervising students, seeing clients online, participating in one of the many BPS and university committees.
"When not on camera I sit in front two screens reviewing documents, reading drafts, listening and analysing research interviews (veterans stories of PTSD)...and then there are the emails - literally hundreds per day that eat my time - this is the freeze dried version of my working life. Even writing this I feel guilty. Of course I am incredibly lucky, Covid free (touch wood), in a bubble with my family. Others, I remind myself every day, are in much worse and traumatic situations, some risk exposure going in to work to help others, putting their own and families lives at risk. I am not that hero. But, however mundane, I will continue to eat, sleep, and repeat until such time as we can all meet again...(and I can go shopping for some new curtains!)"
My Covid-19 blog - Elaine Johnston, co-opted CDT committee member and Clinical PsychologistShow content
"I am a clinical psychologist with an interest in psychological trauma, working in an intensive care unit in London. My work involves supporting patients recovering from critical (life-threatening) illness and their families, as well as the intensive care team, who are routinely exposed to high levels of stressful and potentially traumatic events.
"In March this year, I was invited to represent CDT in the BPS Covid-19 coordinating group set up by BPS President, David Murphy, to bringing psychologists from across the society together to form a collaborative response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The coordinating group has met regularly since March to report on the various workstreams (staff wellbeing, behavioural change and disease prevention, effects of confinement, rehabilitation, bereavement, working differently, adaptions to psychologists' practice, and community action and resilience), that have produced many helpful resources.
"As a member of the staff wellbeing work stream, I contributed to guidance for acute healthcare managers led by David Murphy and Julie Highfield (Clinical Psychologist and Intensive Care Society National Wellbeing Project Director).
"Over the months I have become aware of the challenges for psychologists as a profession in supporting others while at the same time dealing with uncertainty and stress in our personal and professional lives. I am proud to have contributed to recent work of the wellbeing workstream, led by Adrian Neads, Chair of the DCP Leadership & Management Faculty, highlighting the impacts of the pandemic on psychologists' wellbeing to enable us to compassionately help people who are vulnerable, distressed or traumatised.
My Covid-19 blog - Anne Douglas, co-opted CDT committee member and former committee Secretary; Consultant Clinical PsychologistShow content
"I had a steep learning curve working with a range of new technologies at the start of the pandemic. Although I was familiar with Facetime, I had to get used to Teams, Zoom, and Google Drive. I miss the social chitchat that goes on at the beginning and end of meetings in real life and it’s supportive function. I have learned the need for strong boundaries at the end of the day particularly when working from home.
"I joined the Community Action and Resilience BPS Covid-19 working party looking at ways in which psychology can inform, support and amplify community level responses to Covid-19. It has been really stimulating learning about community psychologists’ perspectives. I held a group session with VOICES, an advocacy organization of refugees and asylum seeking people who talked about their experience of living through the pandemic and what measures would make their lives easier."
My Covid-19 blog - Heather Sequeira, CDT committee member and founder and director of PTSD Trauma WorkshopsShow content
"The rapid and unexpected change to the way I worked affected me more than I liked to believe. The novelty of being thrown into a crisis was initially mind-focusing and motivating. But as weeks went on, I noticed my mind was getting increasingly distracted. I did not feel like my usual energised self; instead, I had a more fragmented concentration where it was hard to see opportunities.
"I had technical challenges in setting up both University teaching and PTSD workshops so that they could remain highly interactive, but it is now working out well. Taking action to stay connected feels even more important to me now."
My Covid-19 blog - Kay Bridger, co-opted CDT committee member and PhD candidateShow content
"Doing a PhD during a pandemic at first seemed hardly any different (working from home; isolated). I’ve noticed the common ground with my research participants (injury survivors stuck at home): struggling to access pre-injury sources of support.
"I’ve missed the casual chats over coffee to check if my study struggles are ‘normal’. I haven’t been on campus since March. I realise that not being able to ‘read’ my supervisors’ faces and body language in person has caused me a lot of interpretation stress. Rethinking my data collection was easier.
"I joined the CDT committee offering conference organisation experience. The first pandemic loss was face to face conferences. Now we’re working with webinar formats to continue to deliver our conference material."
My Covid-19 blog - Nerea Jimenez del Nogal, CDT committee member and Health, Counselling and Clinical PsychologistShow content
"In February, I started a new role. When Covid hit the UK, I was still learning in my new service, and everything changed. At that time, I was the "lower" risk psychologist in the team, and I took the duty role going to the office daily. It was challenging and uncertain. I wondered what I could do to help: I collaborated writing and implementing new protocols and ways to work; I developed a pack of resources for staff and clients across the trust; I also arranged daily mindfulness for staff and weekly reflective practice, and I volunteer for different organisations to support front line staff. Finally, I made a plan to take care of myself to be able to take care of others.
"From July, everything changed again. In my service, we tried to work as it used to be, integrating the "normal" way with the "New/Covid" ways, somewhere in the middle; uncertainty became the new normality, and the risk of our clients increased. It has not been easy for anyone (staff and clients).
"Nowadays, I work in the office and some days from home. The past months, I developed a good relationship with my work colleagues which allow us to do great teamwork, I have grown up as a person and as a professional, and I have become more flexible and understanding in my approach to clients and uncertain "environments". I have also been more involved with different committees and organisations outside of my role. Finally, I found the courage to start private practice."
My Covid-19 blog - Sarita Robinson, Deputy Head of School for Psychology and Computer Science at the University of Central LancsShow content
"As a psychologist who has researched human responses to disasters for the last twenty years I have often been asked which major disaster do I think the UK is most likely to face. For years I have given the response - a pandemic. However, when the Covid-19 pandemic started I was still surprised. Since March I have been riding the Covid-19 rollercoaster of emotion along with everyone else. Some days I cope just fine but other days I feel sad that I can’t be with friends and family and have missed important landmarks such as weddings, graduations and special birthdays.
"The way in which the university sector has adapted over the last 9 months is a credit to everyone who works in higher education. Not only have we been working hard to support students we have also been working on research studies and offering hands on practical support. Personally I have undertaken extensive amounts of science communication work, explaining the psychology behind the behaviours that we are seeing during the current emergency. I have also taken the opportunity to run a number of research studies to further our understanding of human responses to pandemics.
"I am very much looking forward to the summer when I am hopeful that a vaccine will allow us to return to our normal lives."
My Covid-19 blog - Siobhan Currie, CDT Secretary and Senior Educational PsychologistShow content
"I have been super busy in both my work and all my voluntary roles and this has been challenging – I have felt guilty about being able to do enough and have had to ‘have a word with myself’ and practice what I preach.
"Initially I focussed a lot on guidance documents for schools and families and uploading these to our service website and CDT. One good thing has been the profile of educational psychologists has been raised through some excellent work by services, the DECP and the DfE.
"Black Lives Matter had a big impact, but being part of local actions and the BPS response has made me hopeful. I have been doing a lot of walking and been part of a campaign to save some woods – meeting new people over zoom and whatsapp has been fun and inspiring."
BPS Member Rates for Trauma Informed Care in Practice Conference - November 2020Show content
Trauma Informed Care in Practice Conference - St Andrews Healthcare
Date: Thursday 19th November 2020
The Trauma Informed Care in Practice Conference will bring together senior practitioners and researchers in the field to offer keynote oral presentations. The event will focus on developing clinical practice for people who have experienced complex and multiple traumas and the services that support them. Click here to find out more.
Statement from the Crisis, Disaster and Trauma Section Committee on racial injustice.Show content
“The British Psychological Society does not exist in a vacuum, the inequities in society play out in our profession and discipline in many ways which we must acknowledge and address. However, the profession and discipline of psychology also has the power to help highlight and tackle many of the factors underlying racism and other forms of inequity and oppression.” BPS statement on racial injustice.
The Crisis, Disaster and Trauma section stands against racism. We stand in solidarity with the Black members of the British Psychological Society, with the wider Black community and all those fighting racism and inequality in the world.
The brutal killing of George Floyd by a police officer has ignited righteous protest against racial injustices and we stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Witnessing the murder and the possibility of seeing this many times by video has caused pain, trauma, anger, frustration and anxiety to many, particularly the Black community, which is completely understandable. It has reminded us that this was not an isolated incident as the long list of previous racially motivated killings both in the US and the UK show. It has highlighted recent examples of systemic racism such as the Windrush scandal and the response to the Grenfell fire.The BAME community is four times more likely to die from COVID-19 – stark evidence of inequality and the impact of structural racism.
The committee members are mindful of the compounding factor of racism for BAME service users and the impact of inequalities in access to services. We recognise the need to take account of the micro and macro aggressions experienced daily in all walks of life, the contributory factor of racism to the stress/allostatic load experienced by Black people and the impact of generations of trauma, racialised violence and bereavement. We stand against the righteous anger and pain of the Black community being pathologised. We offer our support to BAME psychologists and section members impacted by racism.
The Crisis, Disaster and Trauma section is committed to using our platform to address systemic racism, racial injustice and inequalities in the impact of crises, disasters and trauma. We will educate others about these issues and continue to educate ourselves. We recognise white privilege and that the structural underrepresentation of BAME groups in the psychology profession and academia must end.
The committee will review actions that need to be addressed at our next committee meeting and outline further actions we will take.
We invite members to contact the committee to share your views on this issue or if you wish to help the committee to formulate its action plan.
Statement from the new CDT Chair - Challenges Facing UsShow content
On coming into the post of CDT chair the challenges to psychologists and clinicians working within the trauma field has never been greater. We are facing the effects of trauma on individuals and society in this country at an unprecedented level outside of wartime. We are recovering from the global Covid 19 pandemic and at the same time facing up to the reality of our role in historical and current racism brought into sharp focus through the Black Lives Matter movement. Yvonne Coghill, a friend who I first met when whilst at Kings Fund is a leader for NHS and long standing fighter for black and minority colleagues rights within the UK has set out the task facing us very clearly.
‘The Covid 19 pandemic has been traumatic and shocking for everyone in our country, not least our dedicated and professional NHS staff, Drs, nurses, cleaners, porters all working tirelessly to care for patients. As it’s become clearer that the virus disproportionately affects some people more than others we now know that without a shadow of a doubt we must protect our older members of staff, pregnant women, those people with comorbidities and our black and minority ethnic colleagues who are more likely to be affected by and succumb to the virus. The onus is on us as leaders to ensure members of staff are safe and well protected, we have a duty of care to all our staff and must listen to and act on their concerns. Without our precious and hardworking staff the NHS would not exist’.
Yvonne Coghill CBE,OBE,JP,MSc,DMS, RGN, RMH,HV,CPT; Director Workforce Race Equality NHE England and Deputy President of Royal College of Nursing @yvonnecoghill1
Yvonnes wish and hope is that we all can contribute to raising awareness and work towards a more inclusive section through our work and profile within the BPS and wider world.
Dr Annette Greenwood
CDT Section Chair
Early Interventions Scoping Report - February 2019Show content
An early interventions scoping report has just been produced by the Public Health England and the College of Policing. The project outcomes are of interest to the BPS and the Crisis, Disaster & Trauma Psychology Section and are summarised below:
In some organisations, traumatic events are routine experiences. This can be from direct exposure in the case of fire-fighters, paramedics, and police officers, or indirect exposure when dealing with victims of rape or child abuse (MacEachern, Jindal-Snaps, & Jackson, 2011). Organisational productivity can be badly affected following a traumatic incident which has caused distress to workers subsequently decreasing productivity (McFarlane & Bryant, 2007; Tehrani, in press). A NICE review (2005, updated in December 2018) of PTSD management in primary and secondary care left a significant gap in guidance for emergency response organisations. This review was designed to identify previous research which evaluated the use of early interventions following exposure to primary or secondary trauma, to consider the effectiveness of early interventions models and to make recommendations as to the appropriateness of each model’s use as an early trauma intervention specifically within the police force.
The report concludes that early interventions support emergency responders following exposure to trauma when they are tailored to the needs of the population, supported by the host organisation and harness existing social cohesion and peer processes within a team or unit.”