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2012 Trauma Conference


Building Emotional Resistance, Enhancing Resiliency and Improving Recovery: Evidence-Based Practice Approaches

Workplace stress and trauma exposure continues to rise as we enter the second decade of the new millennium. Research shows that for every traumatic incident, one can expect a 50% reduction in productivity and a staff turnover of 20-40% for up to 18 weeks. Hence enhancing resistance and promoting resiliency are proactive steps that can be taken to prepare ourselves and our communities for the possibility of unfortunate events.

Over the last decade, there is increasing interest by many organizations to set up services to address the emotional impact or consequences of traumatic incidents. These services provide early crisis intervention and treatment recovery which help emotionally distressed people to rebound more effectively from the psychological consequences of traumatic incidents.

This conference aims to highlight the various research and evidence-based crisis management and PTSD treatment programs available that promote resistance, resiliency and recovery of individuals and organizations. To achieve this, we have established a partnership with Crisis Intervention and Management Australia (CIMA) to provide pre-conference workshops by Dr John Durkin who is a psychologist specializing in posttraumatic growth and social support. He will introduce his recent research on social support and posttraumatic growth and share techniques that represent person-centredness. Speakers at the Conference will be sharing their research focused on building resistance, enhancing resiliency and improving recovery.

We believe that participants will benefit greatly from the topics that we have put together and the opportunity to dialogue with those working in the field of crisis intervention and PTSD treatment in the region.

Our Conference Partner:


Enhancing Growth from Trauma - Workshops by Dr John Durkin

Thinkers throughout history have appreciated the power of the human mind to transcend adversity and to harness social resources that can heal individuals and strengthen communities. This seminar and workshop will introduce a number of philosophical, conceptual and theoretical explanations for anticipating personal growth out of traumatic experience.

Dr Durkin will discuss the tension between the claims for success in PTSD treatments and the actual success he has witnessed using simple, direct person-centred techniques. He will encourage discussion, dispute and participation. All the techniques to be introduced will have been used successfully by Dr Durkin in a variety of distressing cases so it is anticipated that they will carry a popular and powerful “take home message.


Pre-Conference Workshops:

Workshop One — The Role of Crisis Intervention in Promoting Posttraumatic Growth

Dr Durkin will introduce his recent research on social support and posttraumatic growth to provide a platform for the day’s seminar. He will discuss the philosophical foundations for expecting positive psychological change following trauma and contrast them with arguments which see either resilience or chronic distress as the expected outcome. He will argue from philosophical, theoretical and experiential viewpoints that the medical way of thinking that serves psychiatry is more likely to thwart growth than promote it. He will make the case for a person-centred approach to crisis intervention as one likely to facilitate growth and create a distinct role for crisis intervention in the mental health professions.

The Cochrane Review of studies concluded that psychological debriefing could be harmful although the debate remains unsettled. A discussion of the assumptions underpinning the Cochrane Review will reveal several contradictions to claims of harm and introduce important political and legal elements to the debate and show the limitations of its methodology.

Large scale disasters will invariably be distressing for many people over long periods of time. Those involved in crisis intervention are bound to respond regardless of the scale and duration of the event and the risks to their mental health. It will be proposed that crisis intervention practitioners have an obligation, both personal and professional, to develop an immunity to the loss and pain of others whilst continuing to care. Ancient Stoic philosophy developed a set of thinking strategies that offer the means to anticipate and manage an entire spectrum of tragic situations. As a historic forerunner to “stress inoculation” several rules from Stoicism will be shown to form the basis for a positive approach to coping with trauma and applied in a table top exercise to recent disasters in the Australasian region. Once understood they will form the basis for techniques to be used in future disasters.


  1. Appreciate different perspectives relating to trauma, treatment and psychological change and their implications for care of those affected.
  2. Recognise important limitations of the critical research into psychological debriefing, the political context and the ongoing implications for crisis intervention.
  3. Develop principles from ancient Stoicism to serve as the basis for a technique to build a protective ‘life philosophy’ for crisis intervention practitioners
Workshop Two — Facilitating Posttraumatic Growth: Techniques, Tools and Tactics

It is accepted that crisis intervention is not counselling or psychotherapy. However, crisis communication skills, such as mirroring and paraphrasing, are borrowed directly from the counselling and psychotherapeutic tool kit. To further position crisis intervention as a distinct body of expertise in trauma resolution, skills can be developed that target growth. Theoretically, interpersonal relationships that foster autonomy, relatedness and competence are expected to create the right conditions.

A number of techniques will be introduced and taught that represent person-centredness, broadly defined. Person-centredness follows the principles described by Carl Rogers whose original term “client-centered” was used to emphasise that the focus of any therapeutic interest was towards the client, not the therapist. In taking a person-centred perspective , the helper takes their lead from those in distress. As crisis intervention practitioners commit themselves to supporting and observing change rather than making clinical judgments these person-centred techniques are well-suited to crisis intervention.

An integrated look at findings of research into posttraumatic stress and posttraumatic growth suggests that stress can act as a motive force towards positive change and eventual growth. For those carrying out crisis intervention it is important to be able to distinguish positive from negative changes and to know how to move the process in the direction of growth.

It is becoming increasingly important to provide an evidence-base for practices that involve challenges to mental health. Although the most influential type of research is the randomised control trial (RCT) it is rarely feasible to carry out RCTs in crisis intervention due to uncontrollable conditions in the field. However, there are ways to measure psychological changes at interpersonal and group levels using simple assessment tools that can satisfy the basic demands of research and inform ractitioners of their personal effectiveness.


  1. Introduce and rehearse several person-centred techniques to facilitate crisis-resolution and growth.
  2. Identify positive signs of psychological change and distinguish them from negative signs to encourage growth following critical incidents.
  3. Introduce and develop simple assessment tools for use in the field of crisis intervention.

Trauma Conference 2012 Schedule

27 Sept (Thurs) 9 - 5pm Workshop One — The Role of Crisis Intervention in Promoting Posttraumatic Growth
28 Sept (Fri) 9 - 5pm

Workshop Two — Facilitating Posttraumatic Growth: Techniques, Tools and Tactics

Click here to download Dr John Durkin’s workshop 1 & 2 combined slides

29 Sept (Sat) 8.30am Registration
9.00am Welcome Address: A/Prof Low Cheng Ooi, Senior Consultant Orthopaedic
9.15am Psychological Changes Following Trauma: Generating positive outcomes - Dr John Durkin | Psychologist, University of Nottingham
10.15am Tea break
10.45am Building Emotional Resistance & Resiliency
- Dr Angelina Chan | Head, Senior Consultant Psychiatrist,
TRaCS, Changi General Hospital
11.15am Enhancing Resiliency at the Workplace
- Chan May Peng | TRaCS counsellor, Changi General Hospital
11.35am Improving Recovery in the Aftermath of Traumatic Events
- Elizabeth Ho | TRaCS counsellor, TRaCS, Changi General Hospital

Embracing RRR in the Organisation
- Ho Kar Woon Karen, Sara Delia Menon (Psychologists) |
Mental Resilience Unit, Singapore Prisons

12.15pm Q & A
12.30pm Closing Address

Our Key Note Speakers


Dr John Durkin is a psychologist specialising in posttraumatic growth and social support. As a result of his experiences of emergencies and disasters from an earlier career as a firefighter in the UK, he was made aware of the effects of stress and trauma and became interested in understanding the processes leading to recovery.

In 1997 John graduated with a degree in Health Psychology from the University of North Wales, Bangor and in 1998 graduated with a Masters degree in Psychological Research Methods from Lancaster University.

In 2006 John embarked on his PhD, taking the view that positive psychological outcomes were more likely than negative outcomes following traumatic experience, John
studied the role of social support in posttraumatic growth. John’s postdoctoral research is being directed towards extending the reach of crisis intervention in the mental health field by identifying the peer-led processes that facilitate psychological growth.

John also developed an interest in Traumatic Incident Reduction (TIR) in which he is a facilitator and instructor, and made a successful application to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in the USA for TIR to be recognised as an evidence-based approach to trauma. Extensive anecdotal evidence, John’s personal experience with complex-PTSD military cases and a research project in a distressed community sample all converge to make a compelling
case for introducing TIR to crisis intervention practitioners.

Dr Durkin has been a member of the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation (ICISF) since 1992, an Approved Instructor since 2003 and UK representative of the European Office of ICISF (2007-2010). He was appointed Chair of the Research Committee at the TIR Association in 2006 and became Vice President of Applied Metapsychology International in 2012. In 2011 he received an award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Field of Crisis Intervention’ from Crisis Intervention
and Management, Australasia. John enjoys several outdoor activities including cycling and running with his latest passion being for snowboarding.


MB. BS (S’pore), MMed (Psychiatry), FAMS
Head & Senior Consultant Psychiatrist , Trauma Recovery & Corporate Solutions, Changi General Hospital

Dr Angelina Chan is a Senior Consultant Psychiatrist at Changi General Hospital, with a special interest in psychological trauma, crisis and early intervention mental health programs. Since 1997 she has been involved in the area of disaster mental health through her various appointments over the years such as the National CARE Management System, AusAID funded PRADETTL, Singapore International Foundation etc. From FY 07-11 she assisted in the implementation of the Ministry of Health’s Hospital Based Integrated Mental Health Teams under the National Mental Health Plan in Singapore and was also involved in the setting up of CGH Psychotraumatology Service. She was also awarded the MOH HSDP funding from FY07-12 to set up Peer Support Programs in the Restructured Public Hospitals.

Currently she is Head of Trauma Recovery & Corporate Solutions (TRaCS) which is a CGH service dedicated to improving workplace mental health and responding to workplace crises. She is presently the Chairman of MHFA(S) Executive Committee and has been an ICISF (International Critical Incident Stress Foundation) certified instructor since 2008. Dr Chan has published several papers in the area of posttraumatic stress disorder and workplace mental health.


MA (Applied Psychology)
Counselling Service, Trauma Recovery & Corporate Solutions, Changi General Hospital

Elizabeth Ho is a Counsellor at Changi General Hospital providing psycho-emotional support to patients. She has more than 10 years’experience in the field of disaster management, trauma and critical incident stress. Trained in crisis information management and Critical Incident Stress Management, she had provided psycho-social support and humanitarian assistance to victims and next-of-kins following the SQ 006 crash (2000), Nicoll Highway cave-in (2004) and the tsunami-stricken country of Thailand (2005).


MsSOC Counselling (University of South Australia);
Counsellor, Counselling Service, Trauma Recovery and Corporate Solutions (TRaCS),Changi General Hospital

Ms Chan May Peng is working as a counsellor with the Counselling Service in Changi General Hospital (CGH).  She has 5 years of clinical experiences in providing trauma focused counselling and emotional counselling for patients admitted for traumatic injuries and for CGH’s staff respectively.  Currently, her clinical experience is mainly in providing counselling service to the CGH’s staff and corporate clients.  She uses mainly Solution Focused Brief Therapy (which she has obtained a professional certification in ‘Professional specialization in Solution Focused Practice’ by the Academy of Solution Focused Training).

Ms Chan is the Chairperson of the CGH Peer Support Program and an accredited trainer for the peer supporters.  She is a certified International Critical Incident Stress Foundation trainer for the Individual Crisis Intervention, Group Crisis Intervention and the combined Individual and Group Crisis Intervention courses.  She is also a qualified instructor for the Mental Health First Aid (Adult)-Singapore Programme.  In addition, she is a member with the Singapore Association for Counselling.


Mental Resilience Unit, Psychological & Correctional Rehabilitation Division,
Singapore Prison Service

The authors, Ms Sara Delia Menon (Senior Manager, MR) and Ms Ho Kar Woon, Karen (Psychologist, MR) work closely to apply psychological principles to enhance the resilience of prison officers. They are involved in the formulation and implementation of staff training, provision of in-house staff counseling services, and development and co-ordination of CARE (Caring Action in Response to an Emergency). They also provide psychological assessment services for specialized staff units in Singapore Prison Service.  The study is a research project undertaken by the Mental Resilience Unit (MR) of the Singapore Prison Service. The unit was set up in 2004 with the task of building staff capabilities in the areas of resilience and crisis preparedness.