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Traumatic incident reduction: A suitable technique for South African social work practice settings

H. Marili Williams
Elizabeth C. Erlank


It is part of South African social workers’ responsibilities to attend promptly and appropriately to victims of trauma. Overstrained and limited  resources in communities influence the availability of debriefing services to traumatised community members. The purpose of this article was to elaborate on the traumatic incident reduction (TIR) technique as a suitable, short-term intervention technique for social work practice settings to address the impact of trauma effectively and timely. A discussion on TIR is presented by contextualising and defining mental health and  posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and elaborating on other practice approaches, therapies, techniques and models for addressing trauma and PTSD in social work practice. Given the excessive exposure to trauma experienced by the South African population, it is clear that further trauma counselling services are required and more effective ways must be found to empower communities to deal with trauma. Most approaches for the  treatment of trauma in South Africa are specialised and resources are limited; therefore, many communities are excluded from these specialised services. The TIR technique fits appropriately within the ambit of the developmental approach, as embraced by the South African Department of  Social Development. It will be beneficial if social workers, auxiliary social workers, community leaders, community volunteers, health care workers and lay counsellors are trained in the TIR technique. Concerted efforts are necessary to empower communities in supporting themselves and  developing the necessary skills to address trauma. This initiative will be consistent with the developmental approach sanctioned by the Department of Social Development.

Keywords: Mental health; post-traumatic stress disorder; traumatic incident reduction technique; social work; social workers; healthcare  practitioners.