Current projects on children’s trauma recovery

Within Monash Injury Research Institute (MIRI, Australia) we conduct several research and dissemination projects focusing on children’s trauma recovery. Our purpose is to build knowledge about how we can support children after traumatic events and to translate this knowledge into practical tools. We collaborate intensively with emergency professionals, university departments (within and outside of Monash University), and community organizations for this purpose. Currently, our main project topics regard:

1) Professional – child interaction after trauma

While professionals such as paramedics, the police, firefighters, and emergency department personnel take care of children’s physical health and safety, their interactions also have a social component. What can they do to facilitate children’s recovery after a traumatic event? For example, what can paramedics say to calm a child after a traffic accident? What information can the police give to children after domestic violence? We focus on interactions between first responders and children after a variety of traumatic events.

2) Parent – child interaction after trauma

We know that parents play an important role in children’s recovery from trauma. Several reviews and meta-analyses have indicated that parents’ own distress predicts children’s long-term psychological symptoms after a traumatic event. How are parents’ and children’s recovery related to each other? What do parents actually do that influences their children’s symptoms? We are interested in those specific parenting behaviors that make a difference, and how we can help parents help their children.

3) Adolescent refugee mental health

Young refugees often have a severe trauma history and, additionally, need to overcome several barriers in their new home country. Discrimination because of skin color or religion is not uncommon. Neither are financial, housing, and schooling issues. It is probable that these additional stressors in the new home country make it more difficult to work through the earlier traumatic experiences. We are interested in young refugees mental health and social integration experience.

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