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Working Relationally with Trauma: A discussion

Working Relationally with Trauma: A discussion

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Quick Overview

This review provides information about a range of different definitions of trauma, together with theories and models of working with people who have experienced trauma; it does this to evidence the possibility of a relationally-based approach in this work.

Practitioner psychologists are engaged in understanding the biological/neuropsychological, cognitive and interpersonal/relational aspects of human functioning, so there are a number of different strands running through the review.

The document proposes, through the use of case material and relevant literature, that more consideration can be given to a relational emphasis in both research and practice. This will further inform trauma work alongside more technical interventions for all applied psychologists.




  • The counselling psychology stance
  • The importance of relationship
  • A generic approach
  • An integration of relational and technical interventions
  • Problematising the concept of trauma

A note on terminology

Guideline: Problems and possibilities

Definitions of trauma

  • Complex trauma
  • An idiothetic approach to understanding PTSD

Contributions from other theoretical models

Eye movement densensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR): Using this technique relationally

Neurological aspects of trauma and intrusions: Contributing to the relational focus

  • Intrusions: the dominant feature found in trauma responses
  • Understanding traumatic intrusions using neurological insights
  • Verbally accessible memory and situationally accessible memory systems
  • Sensation based memory and contextually bound memory

Peri-traumatic distress during trauma

  • Cognitive restructuring

Applying the research in practice

A relational approach to working with trauma responses: Returning to this theme

  • Trauma, rupture and working relationally

Vicarious traumatisation

Post-traumatic growth

Concluding remarks: Finding a position in this debate



Additional Information