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..).
You can find me on Twitter @EvaAlisic and my publications on Google Scholar.
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.
Hello Eva, I just wanted to say a huge thank you to you for the resources that you are providing to us! Being an “old lady” 🙂 I am way behind you in technological abilities and knowledge (soon I will find some time to follow your instructions for Twitter….) For now the direct access to articles in our field is great
Thank you Julie! Commenting on blogs is already checked on your social media experience list :-). Looking forward to seeing you on Twitter. You can also get a feel for it without creating an account, for example on this page with tweets by PTSD experts
or by searching someone’s name and ‘Twitter’ in Google.
Thank you for the work that you do in this area of Childhood Trauma.
Unfortunately this type of research / knowledge about the affects of Domestic violence on children was not available when I was a child.
Howard Lovely, Jr.
Thanks for your kind words, it’s true that the attention for the topic is much more recent than it should be…hopefully we can do things differently now. Take good care,
Hi Eva, heel leuk om je uitgebreider te spreken dan we tot nu toe gedaan hadden. Handig, zo’n vlucht samen! Ik vind het erg leuk om een bijdrage te leveren aan je blog/nieuwsbrief. Tot snel en groetjes, Joanne
Insgelijks! Ik mail je binnenkort!
Ik krijg net jou gegevens van een vriendin van mij uit Israel: Ayelet.
Zij is psychotherapeut met 2 praktijken in Israel.
Misschien kennen jullie elkaar van een studie?
Ik was een aantal weken geleden in Tel Aviv en heb een hele poos gesproken over mijn dochter Yasmine. Ze is dertien jaar en heeft de diagnose: Reactieve Hechtings Stoornis.
Na aanleiding van mijn verhaal kwam Ayelet tot de conclusie dat mijn dochter waarschijnlijk te maken heeft met Childhood Trauma in plaats van Hechting. Nu heb ik zelf nog helemaal niets gehoord van deze stoornis is Nederland. Dit terwijl ik toch met mijn dochter in allerlei behandeltrajecten heb gezeten. Yasmine heeft twee jaar op het RMPI gezeten, nu Yulius. Vanaf haar 6 t/m haar 8ste jaar.
Mijn vraag aan jou is dan ook:
Is het belangrijk om het verschil te weten tussen de twee diagnoses?
Is er verschil in de behandeling van de verschillende diagnoses?
Ik heb zelf altijd het gevoel gehad dat het geen hechting kan zijn omdat ik zelf wel een constante factor ben geweest in het leven van mijn dochter. Toch kan ik ook niet ontkennen dat het gedrag van Yasmine op zijn minst soms erg typerend en eigenaardig is.
Nu staat de diagnose opgeschreven als Reactive Hechtings Stoornis op zuigenlinge leeftijd.
Maar misschien is het ook een stukje genetische van haar vader in combinatie met Cildhood Trauma?
Zou jij weten hoe ik hier achter kan komen? En waar ik moet zijn om hier achter te komen?
Alvast bedankt voor het lezen van mijn woorden!
Dag Esther, dank voor je bericht. Jullie situatie klinkt als heel pittig zeg, veel sterkte. Je zou bij het Yulius kunnen navragen of ze hulpverleners hebben die gespecialiseerd zijn in psychotrauma, en eens telefonisch met ze overleggen. Op de Yulius website staat dat ze binnen het programma Passaat ervaring hebben met psychotrauma. Wellicht kunnen zij je al verder helpen. Wat meer algemene informatie kun je verder via de website van het Landelijk Psychotraumacentrum voor Kinderen en Jongeren vinden. Veel succes en hartelijke groet,
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I want to make an SMS based, trauma mitigating, community empowerment platform! Interested to help?
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Wij zijn twee derdejaars studenten van de Hogeschool Rotterdam en wij zijn bezig met een onderzoek naar trauma. De bedoeling van het onderzoek is dat we zowel een literair onderzoek doen als een beroepsproduct afleveren. Het onderzoek duurt tot ongeveer eind juni en staat op dit moment nog in de kinderschoenen. Wij vroegen ons af of u ons verder zou kunnen helpen bij het vinden van het juiste onderzoek binnen traumaverwerking of anders misschien een keer de mogelijkheid heeft om vragen van ons te beantwoorden.
Susan en Bianca
Hoi, dat is prima! Ik kan jullie email adres zien, dus ik stuur wel even een mailtje.
Dear Eva Alisic,
I am a Psychology postgraduate student at the University of Bristol, UK and I am planning my dissertation which will be on the mediating role of behavioural problems in the relationship between Childhood Psychological Trauma and Academic Achievement in primary school students. I am have decided to measure childhood trauma through Children’s Response Trauma Inventory, CRTI (Eland & Kleber, 1996) I have read some papers of yours on trauma and especially the one in the validation of CRTI. I would like to ask you if and how can I have access to this instrument? Is it free of charge or should I pay? My dissertation supervisor informed me that he cannot do something for it.
We could discuss this by e-mail as well if you don’t mind. My university e-mail is:email@example.com
Thank you very much.
Thanks for your message Stefanos, I’ll send you an email!
I am a victim of crime, stolen and held hostage from the age of five.
I have five children, all healthy and we’ll. Twenty yrs of being a single mum has been amazing, heaven sent and hard.
Now it’s my turn to heal. I have been to Melbourne but being away from my now adult children was too much.
So I moved to the Gold Coast. I do have suicidal feeling still and in thinking number one is safety.
.after endlessly 30 hrs of waiting I have been told they don’t care. LAST week I had two meetings with the phsychiatrists and they said they can’t help me.
I think it’s criminal. They can keep me safe when I’m not okay but I don’t get that luxury INFACT I get insulted and abused.
I don’t know where to go next.
I’m thinking Brisbane but it s where it happened.
My daily flash backs are hard, being in Brisbane they hit like shit.
I feel though if I get help there it’s worth it but at what cost.
My email is
Mobile: 0412 363 520
I have complex PTSD. Agoraphobia. Panic Disorder
Please help in any way.
I don’t know where to turn next.
My kind Regards
I’m so sorry to read about how you’ve been hurt and the difficulty regarding finding appropriate help. And it sounds like you’ve done a wonderful job as a mother. We indeed see sometimes that ‘when the pressure is off’ for one thing (e.g. raising children in your case), older pain surfaces and asks to be addressed.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a direct suggestion for where you could find help; my contacts with clinicians are mostly in the ‘child’ sphere. However, Phoenix Australia has a good page about finding help, here: https://www.phoenixaustralia.org/recovery/find-help/ This website, where you can search for clinical psychologists in your neighbourhood, may also be helpful: https://www.psychology.org.au/Find-a-Psychologist. You wrote about suicidal thoughts, when it’s urgent and you don’t have anyone to speak to, you can always call LifeLine: 13 11 14. They are available 24 hours a day, every day, and can also help you with finding a therapist.
I wish you all the best in this journey, it’s courageous you’re taking it on.
I’m a filmmaker currently developing a story about children after parental homicide in China and childhood neglect. I managed to find some papers online about this topic, but since most of the researches are not accessible to non-academic individuals, I still got some questions about this. So I would really appreciate it if I could get in touch with you for some professional insights.
My interest in this topic started several months ago from a news about a parental homicide and how the children were treated afterwards in China. I dig a bit deeper into this topic, and came to realize that there was little understanding of how children could be affected by traumatic experience in Chinese society. Many wouldn’t even know how severe the mental suffering could be for kids and the importance of getting professional help. It is quite tragical to imagine what these children have to go through without the right support, and what their partner/children need to experience in the future if they carried their problems into the new families.
That’s why I genuinely wish to understand the nature and consequences of this as good as possible in order to make a film that hopefully could raise people’s awareness and help more people/kids.
Thanks a lot! Hope to hear from you!
Thanks for your message Sasha, I’ll send you an email.
I was after a very general opinion regarding redressal of post trauma nightmares one year on from an accident including anxiety.
•What are the best options to redress this permanently?
•Being located in Australia, what is the best option for Imagery Rehearsal Therapy?
•What are the general rates of success and how long does the therapy last
•What are the approximate costs
Only after your very general opinion. I will do my own research before taking any decision. If you would be able to help guide in any way that would be very valuable.
That’s a very good question that I don’t have an immediate answer for unfortunately. I would recommend contacting the Australian Psychological Society: https://www.psychology.org.au/ and/or having a look at their ‘Find a psychologist’ page; you can use search terms there to find local therapists with specialist expertise.
All the best, take care,
Dear Dr. Alisic,I copy and paste below my original email that I sent to your Monash address, to which I received an automatic reply to send at Melbourne Uni. (where I spent a sabbatical almost two decades ago but the great memories remain). After reading your blog, I am even more interested in your contribution of a chapter as detailed in my original email. Looking forward to hearing from you (hopefully, a positive answer) soon. I wish you a healthy and safe 2021.
I read with great interest your articles about PTG and children and I am writing to invite you to consider writing a chapter related to your work in the field. This can be a chapter written by you as a sole author or in collaboration with co-authors. I serve as the editor of a book tentatively titled The Routledge International Handbook on Posttraumatic Growth. The International Handbooks are prestige reference works providing an overview of a whole subject area, including cutting edge and emerging knowledge. The aim is to produce a comprehensive, up to date work of reference, which can be cited as an authoritative source on the subject.
I believe that a chapter written by you will have two unique important contributions. First, as you know, there is not too much written about PTG and children and quite a limited amount about PTG and adolescents. Additionally, there are not too many contributions from Australia. International Handbooks are edited books comprising specially commissioned articles of 5000-8,000 words (including references) each, which together provide a comprehensive critical overview of the subject. I dedicated the last two decades of my scholarly and professional activities to the topic of Posttraumatic Growth (you are welcome to Google some of my books and articles on the topic) and informed by this experience, am particularly looking to create a book that is as diverse and as inclusive as possible in terms of authors, socio-cultural contexts, traumatizing exposure, developmental stages and population groups. At this time, the timetable is quite flexible. This is a preliminary letter to explore if participating in this project is interesting to you. If you are interested and wish to discuss specifics, I will be happy to communicate with you via email, Zoom or phone. Thank you for considering. I very much hope that this opportunity will appeal to you.
On a personal note, I carry warm memories from my sabbatical in Melbourne many years ago (including teaching a course in Monash).
Thanks so much for your kind invitation Roni. I’ll send you an email.
I am writing from an academic medical institution housing a children’s hospital. Our psychosocial staff has interest in utilizing the staff survey you developed/described in http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jpeds.2015.10.067 for inquiry into medical staff perceptions and knowledge related to trauma-informed care. The intention is to determine baseline knowledge and later link to Pediatric Medical Traumatic Stress awareness along with the initiation of institutional emotional safety protocols. We would like to request using the items described in the article or perhaps a more complete format (if available). We are aware of the publication of child-focused formal measures on your blog, but were unsure if permissions were similarly needed for the staff survey tool. We are impressed by your important work and are hopeful for a reply.
Thank you for considering-
Morgan Ford, MS, CCLS
Senior Child Life Coordinator
Certified Child Life Specialist
Thanks Morgan, I’ll send you the measure via email.