International Society of Political Psychology

Conference Abstracts

1FF Trauma Mitigation: Reducing the Negative Psychological Consequences of Ongoing Group Violence

(Session Organizer) Laurie Anne Pearlman, Trauma Research, Education, and Training Institute

Conference: ISPP 2011
Affiliation: Trauma Research, Education, and Training Institute
Research Area: Political conflict, violence, and crisis

This symposium addresses the question, “What can be done during violent conflict to lessen both immediate and subsequent psychological trauma?”  With hundreds of civil wars, ethnic, resource- and territory-related wars in progress, civilians, combatants, and people attempting to provide assistance require resources to protect themselves from subsequent traumatic stress. While we understand much about addressing posttraumatic stress disorder (Foa, Keane, & Friedman, 2008) and complex trauma (Courtois & Ford, 2009), little has been written about mitigating trauma during ongoing violence. This panel will provide three perspectives on this issue. Donald Bosch will present a model for building resilience in both individuals and teams of humanitarian workers. Through his work with the Headington Institute, he has developed, refined, and applied in the field an approach built upon principles of the neurobiology of trauma, psychoeducation, self-awareness, and peer support. Adin Thayer and Laurie Pearlman will present an approach to reducing “radical helplessness” in situations of ongoing violence. Their framework integrates the RICH© approach to trauma recovery (Saakvitne, Gamble, Pearlman, & Lev, 2000) with Thayer’s processes for sustainable recovery from collective violence. They will illustrate this framework through a public education project in East Africa. Ervin Staub will discuss the value of understanding the origins of group violence in reducing post-violence trauma responses, and empowering victims through this understanding, increasing the likelihood of action in their own behalf during violence, a strategy with potential to reduce post-violence trauma. Staub will apply this model to the on-going violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.