Trauma Support Groups Online with trained facilitator since 1994
Trauma Support Groups commenced in the mid 1990’s gave rise to a paper presented by Francess Day at the European Society for Traumatic Stress Studies International conference 1997. The PTSD & Trauma Support Groups Feedback is in a Published paper in HR Monthly (2000), entitled: “Facilitated Trauma Support Groups” Authors: Francess Day & Dr Rowan Davidson
Groups recommenced 30 APRIL 2022 in Perth, at the beautiful Trauma Healing Centre… but covid got us organised for Skype sessions which are working out well 🙂
Online is better 🙂
We can see everyone’s face at once. In a physical circle, I don’t see half the group when looking at one person on one side.
Our community has a great need, but we rely on you to share the information by word of mouth, or passing on the link to this page. The more that you share this opportunity, the sooner that we gather enough people … because that is a huge barrier at the moment due to information overload on the internet.
Please contact me via the ‘contact page‘ 🙂 for an individual session – if you’d like to be part of this group 🙂
This introductory session is necessary for you to ask questions, tell me about things that are outside of usual group content and for us both to come to a decision about whether the group is the right thing for you.
A small core group of about 8 lovely, gentle respectful participants will WELCOME you 🙂
The groups will be on Skype until further notice, which is great to avoid Covid too. I find it is great to see everyone’s face at the same time, as when you are looking in one direction when the group gathers physically, you can’t see what’s happening with another person on the opposite side.
Please let as many people you know see / hear about this. You never know how many people are suffering in silence.
Please read below to learn about how the groups are run and what previous participants got from their experiences in the groups. Register soon – to secure a place in the next group. Trauma Support & Therapy group usually runs 530-730pm, but will be negotiated by whoever has committed to come for the 8 weeks. We decide many things with consensus via email – which is why it’s so important to email me via the ‘contact page‘ 🙂
Each participant needs to book an individual session prior to joining the group please.
The fee for each week’s 2-hour session is $70- $150 depending on your income. This is $35/hour for the lower end and there is no funding available to pay the facilitator, unfortunately as you will see below… how powerful it is to listen to others and how they cope with the challenges that many people with PTSD. With this number of people present, the chances of somebody knowing exactly what it feels like for you are very high, which as you see in the results below, is an important factor in the healing process 🙂
Trauma Support Groups – what happens?
The support groups have 5-8 people and meet weekly for 2 hour sessions. Generally, no new people join after the first session, until the 8 weeks are completed. You decide if you want to do another group. Keep in touch via our Facebook https://www.facebook.com/BroadeningHorizonsCounselling
The information about the Support Groups Feedback in a Published paper below is the original paper, other than minor updates in the authors’ details shown just below this little collection of inspiration:
Francess Day B.A. Psychology (1st Class Honours); Behavioural Studies, Health Education. APS; A.I.R.T.A and ASTSS is the Coordinator & Facilitator of Community Based Support Groups for people affected by traumatic stress. Director of Broadening Horizons Counselling, specialist EMDR and Imago Relationship Therapy and Training Services, 162G Rokeby Rd Subiaco and Greenmount. Western Australia. Email address
Dr. Rowan Davidson M.B.B.S., F.R.A.N.Z.C.P. Office of the Chief Psychiatrist. Health Department of Western Australia.
For information regarding Support Groups Feedback in a Published paper; contact the primary author.
Abstract: Community based Support Groups for People affected by Traumatic Stress empower participants with knowledge and understanding thereby facilitating recovery from trauma
The need for support groups facilitated by a skilled counsellor became apparent to the primary author in 1994 after listening to many people applying for workers compensation for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. An outstanding difficulty that seemed to compound the symptoms was the lack of support, understanding and validation of the trauma and symptoms that they suffered. Concurrently, there seemed be a shortage of counselling personnel with specific expertise in Traumatic Stress. Facilitated support groups do assist people to lessen and manage the effects of Traumatic Stress. This article describes the process of establishing and facilitating the groups. The results show the benefits that empowered group participants experienced.
THE SUPPORT GROUP
The writings of Ochberg F.M., (1991) “Post-traumatic Therapy”. Psychotherapy 28, no.1 support the author’s observation; “that when people do seek help, they may find therapists who are ill-equipped to provide assistance,” and that credentialed personnel are only “recently learning to catalogue, evaluate and refine a therapeutic armamentarium to serve traumatised clients”.
The ACISA conference in Perth, March 1996 provided information from case studies conducted internationally which supported the effectiveness of providing this type of service to traumatised people. Gordon Turnbull’s presentation and paper (Busuttil, Turnbull et al., 1995) “Incorporating Psychological Debriefing Techniques within a Brief Group Psychotherapy Programme for the Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder”. British Journal of Psychiatry 167, provided a basis on which to build a structure and approach. Turnbull’s programme involved a 12 day structured in-patient “course”, using psychological debriefing techniques, followed by 1 day case group follow-up sessions over one year for individuals assessed as suffering from PTSD as defined by the DSM-III-R.
The principles were appropriate to the approach intended by both facilitators. An experienced social worker from Vietnam Veterans Counselling Service, Iolanthe Lang brought her experience of facilitating support groups for wives, and groups for children of veterans suffering traumatic stress.
The philosophical approach of empowerment and rebuilding personal integrity and resources aimed to reverse the phenomenon described by Ochberg (1991); “since traumatised and victimised individuals are, by definition, reacting to abnormal events, they may confuse the abnormality of the trauma with the abnormality of themselves.”
The Perth groups target and assist people who describe their experience of symptoms outlined in the DSM-IV, but who are not covered by a category of services, or are not willing to use specialist services eg. counselling agencies, Psychiatric Departments, etc. Table 1 outlines the process used to establish the groups.
This report also summarises the results of seven groups averaging 5-6 people which have been completed over a time span of 9 months.
The evaluation process used was a structured feedback report sheet with the following questions. A summary of the responses is presented in the following:
How did you hear about the Trauma Support Groups?
- Heard the Facilitator on radio talk back, sharing relatable description of traumatic stress.
- Read a relatable article in the community newspaper.
What feelings or thoughts made you telephone and register?
- Identified with the symptoms and effects heard/read.
- Wanted more information about traumatic stress.
- Relieved to name the dilemma and turmoil. “At last there’s hope”.
- To meet/share with others having similar experiences. “Its positive”.
What did you hope to gain from attending the Trauma Support Groups?
- “Nothing more to lose”.
- Learn more about PTS.
- Support, encouragement, reassurance, new friends, be listened to, understood, and regain a sense of normalcy.
- Ways to deal with the aftermath of trauma, “horrible new life”.
- Validation of trauma; not feel so alone with dilemmas.
- Self awareness, feedback and communication skills.
- Greater awareness of patterns/responses that impacted negatively on myself.
- Skills to deal with symptoms. Recognise when not breathing.
- Professional help, empathy, trust, understanding and feedback.
- Safer to share with group than therapists.
- Validation, normalising and talking out so that it doesn’t leak out in social situations.
- Most valuable was to feel safe to have self defenses and ‘warts’ exposed.
- Self expression. Built confidence with people.
- Help, reassured knowing others with similar difficulties.
- Acceptance, the will to go back into life, and friendship.
- Meaningfulness and came to terms with reality of what happened.
- Insight; PTS, effect on own life and others perception of self.
- “Confidence and realisations of what I have overcome alone”.
What expectations weren’t met?
- “Expected a structured approach, but natural approach appears to have been OK.”
- Not enough time sometimes.
Each group time period required a commitment from participants for the duration, and provided a clear end. Some time periods only spanned five weeks due to holiday breaks. Some people chose to join a subsequent group and have thus been supported for a longer period (range 3 to 9 months).
Table 2 below shows the number of participants who entered and completed each group, and those who continued for another block of time.
The major drop in attendance in Group 3 occurred when one Facilitator did not continue due to illness and there were also two new people in the group. The three continuing from Group 2, who dropped out said they just felt they could not handle the changes; “it was not the same”.
A possible interpretation of the increasing completion rate is the change to having only one group leader who had extensive personal experience of traumatic stress. When the leader related to an experience, it was sometimes stated to the person working through an issue.
It was found that a stronger bond formed with the sole Facilitator and we think it may be due to this factor, coupled with the situation where the “us and them” dynamic was lessened simply because there were not two leaders. There may have been more of a sense of the group leader being more a participant in the process of experience disclosure. It is likely that this is one of the factors that is related to the improved completion rate.
Another factor could be attributed to the remaining Facilitator becoming more confident to respond intuitively and more experienced in managing the group dynamics.
The most effective methods of attracting participants were personalised presentations or interaction. The Facilitator’s own experience provided information and a sense of safety. The principle focus of the group was an empowering individual process.
This article has demonstrated that Community Based Support groups led by a skilled Facilitator who is able to relate, are an effective method of moving people from being stuck in their symptom phase to an empowered state of managing symptoms and life generally. The groups assisted the establishment of supports, to enable participants to reach the point of not needing the group environment.
Ochberg, F. M. (1991). Post -traumatic Therapy. Psychotherapy 28, no. 1, 5-15.
Busuttil, W. (1995). Incorporating Psychological Debriefing Techniques within a Brief Group Psychotherapy Programme for the Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. British Journal of Psychiatry 167, 495-502
Table 1 – Developing Community Based Trauma Support Groups
1. Initially informative flyers were sent to counselling, medical & rehabilitation services to be displayed on notice boards. Lead time was 8-10 weeks.
2. Community & Natural Health newspaper calendar notices and articles described the group purpose, touching on the Faciliator’s personal experiences in relation to reasons for establishing the groups. Lead time was two weeks or less.
3. Information sessions about Traumatic Stress, promoted in the above manner gave attendees an opportunity to meet the Facilitator, ask questions and develop rapport and trust.
4. Radio talkback discussing the group and traumatic stress process were most successful. The radio announcer asked the type of questions that most people ask about the groups.
1. During telephone inquiries, people were asked what their interest in the group was and to describe their symptoms. Previous therapy was also ascertained.
2. People better suited to other target groups eg. Cancer support, were referred on.
1. To create a safe environment in which participants can explore emotions and begin to look at options.
2. To flexibly facilitate participant’s movement through the process.
3. Monitor, evaluate individual and group threshold levels, dynamics and adjust the process accordingly
Table 2 Trauma Support Groups Numbers Summary
Group Number Number of Entries Number who Completed No. who continued on
1 (8 weeks) 9 9 1
2 (5 weeks) 4 3 3
3 (10 weeks) 7 2 2
4 (10 weeks) 6 5 5
5 (10 weeks) 6 5 2
6 (5 weeks) 5 5 N/A
7 (5 weeks) 4 4 N/A
TOTAL (%) 28 (92% ) 13 (46%)
The Essence of what was achieved in the Trauma Support Groups
The concepts have been described and expanded in the Workbook which clients asked me to write up after published Putting together the pieces; recovering and rebuilding life after trauma.
Participants were recruited using radio and written media, and Francess speaking at Public Information sessions about PTSD. West Australian TV channel Access 31 created a 30 minute documentary where Francess spoke about recovering from trauma (PTSD). The community TV station then sold copies to various organisations for training purposes and screened it a number of times over subsequent years. Francess Day also wrote articles for newspapers, various organisation’s magazines. She organised and presented at public forums, was interviewed on Ch 9 news for Mental Health week; and she developed and provided training for all kinds of professionals around the state.