Symposium: Post-trauma reconstruction with re... - Recording
Symposium: Post-trauma reconstruction with re... - Recording
Dr Radika Santhanam-Martin
Post-trauma reconstruction with refugee families – is there a role for institutions?

When individuals and families go through traumatic displacement, their sense of connection and belonging to their social networks and communities get severely disrupted. In this period of profound transition, families must recreate, reimagine and reconnect, amidst a new set of people, places and spaces. It is during this transition time that families and individuals, in their resettlement countries, come in contact with service providers from a range of Institutions, including health care, social, welfare and educational organisations.

In this presentation, I want to explore the role of Institutions in re-building the sense of trust and connection post-trauma, for families. Institutions, like families, bring their own socio-political history, which informs their practices and policies. The building of trust and connection between services and families is a highly complex and protean process. When trust and connectedness get built between services and families, this could be considered a form of relational repair. That is, the destruction of human connectedness that occurred in the past has had an opportunity to repair. Alternately, service providers and Institutions can come close to re-enacting the patterns of traumatic experiences that families have experienced in the past.

I want to propose the framework of attachment for considering practice principles for Institutions in the
rebuilding of trust and connection. It is a call for ethical practices in post-trauma reconstruction, yet without pathologizing or blaming either families or Institutions.

Dr Radhika Santhanam-Martin is a clinical psychologist who works in the field of trauma. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in transcultural mental health; has a PhD in developmental neuropsychology; an MPhil in medical and social psychology; Masters in clinical psychology and Bachelors in philosophy. She has more than two decades of experience in therapeutic and clinical practice in India, Canada and Australia.

Currently, she works in Melbourne, Australia across three sectors: Refugees and Asylum seekers; Indigenous families; and Diverse and Emerging communities.

Her major interest areas include: ways of working with cultures, trauma approaches in particular attachment models and somatic interventions, narrative methods of practice, and reflective supervision for groups.

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