This blog is about what my colleagues and I learn while studying trauma exposure and recovery in young people and their families. It’s a mix of personal reflections on our work, new research findings, and useful resources.
My interest in ‘children and trauma’ was born when I worked at the Childline, an anonymous Dutch telephone service. I was intrigued by children’s resilience and perspectives on life.
Initially, I had described my credentials in this third paragraph, but it always makes me cringe (if you really want the bragging, it’s at the bottom of the page). The most important information is that the Trauma Recovery Lab is based at the Child and Community Wellbeing Unit of the University of Melbourne’s School of Population and Global Health, in Australia.
In the Lab we use a variety of methods to unravel the mechanisms that underlie child and family responses to trauma. For example, with the Electronically Activated Recorder (EAR app), we audio sample parent-child communication shortly after trauma. It allows us to understand the nature of family interactions and how these relate to children’s and parents’ wellbeing.
An important goal of our projects is to inform professional education and policy reform. We work with emergency professionals to understand and improve how they support children exposed to trauma. We work with child protection teams and policy makers on the topic of fatal domestic violence and its consequences for young people.
One of the key influences in my current work has been the Global Young Academy (GYA). The GYA provides a rallying point for early- and mid-career scholars from around the world, bringing together people from low- and high-income settings and a range of cultures to address topics of global importance. These range from Open Science to building capacity in science leadership to the Sustainable Development Goals (and they are all interrelated..).
So now for the bragging part: After a ‘cum laude’ PhD at the Dutch National Psychotrauma Center for Children & Youth and Utrecht University in the Netherlands, a combination of grant and fellowship successes allowed me to establish the Trauma Recovery Lab at MUARC (Monash University, Australia), which has generously supported the Lab for 6 years. The Lab’s work has received awards from the European Society for Traumatic Stress Studies and the World Economic Forum. In early 2018, I was invited to join the University of Melbourne as Associate Professor, Child Trauma and Recovery, and the Lab is now based at the Child and Community Wellbeing Unit of the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health. Since 2020, I have an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship to study the circumstances and needs of children and young people bereaved by domestic homicide. This is a participatory project involving young people, caregivers and professionals.