Journal of Psychology in Africa

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From trauma debriefing to trauma support: A South African experience of responding to individuals and communities in the aftermath of traumatising events

Gerrit van Wyk, David Edwards


This paper documents the approach and experience of Traumaclinic, a Cape Town based organisation offering a trauma support service. The controversy over single session debriefing interventions is examined and it is concluded that interventions that invite intense emotional expression should not be offered indiscriminately or forced on those who do not want them. When they do occur, they need to be carefully managed and take place over several sessions. A review of contemporary approaches to intervention following trauma highlights their comprehensive and flexible nature and the inclusion of multiple components that are introduced in a manner responsive to the needs of the situation. This is the basis of the current model used by Traumaclinic. The principles of that model are summarised and examples given of the application of the approach to specific cases.

Keywords: acute stress disorder, critical incident stress debriefing, trauma recovery, trauma support

Journal of Psychology in Africa 2005, 15(2): 135–142
AJOL African Journals Online