Single Paper or Case Study

Traumatised Again: The Impact of Incarceration on Detained Asylum Seekers Suffering from Post-traumatic and Dissociative Conditions

Sunday, March 25
4:30 PM - 4:50 PM
Location: Wilson

Purpose

This clinical paper illustrates, through case example, the uniquely re-traumatising impact of immigration detention upon already traumatised asylum seekers.

Population

The author presents single case studies of three detained asylum seekers in the UK suffering from institutional abuse / re-enactment and individual re-traumatisation within a detained setting. 

Main points

This paper draws on the author's clinical experience over 20 years as an Expert Witness in cases of complex trauma and dissociation within asylum/immigration. The author uses psychodynamic understanding to examine how the traumatic histories of such individuals are projected powerfully into the systems supposed to contain them. Without the training or infrastructure of thinking to understand and manage these projections, the result is often a horrific re-enactment of originator abuse leading to much-increased traumatisation of detainees. 

Conclusions

Immigration detention is intended to control and manage. The reality is it can instead re-abuse. A psychodynamic understanding is vital to explain how non-clinically trained staff within detained settings can unconsciously re-enact the trauma of their client group causing further distress.  Clinicians in the field have a duty as Expert Witnesses, authors, speakers and therapists to educate on how such processes occur and how they can be prevented. 

Learning Objectives:

Rachel C. Thomas

Director
Clinic for Dissociative Studies, London, UK (CDS UK)
London, England

I am a Consultant Clinical Psychologist with nearly 18 years of post-qualification experience in Clinical Psychology, having qualified from the South Thames doctoral program, London, UK, in 2000 following four-year training. In addition, I am a qualified Consultant Adult Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist, having undertaken a further post-qualification training at the Tavistock Centre in Adult Psychotherapy (2004-8).

I worked at the Tavistock Centre, London, UK, as a Consultant Psychologist and Psychotherapist for nearly 10 years (2004-14) within their Adult Directorate. For the duration of this period, I was a senior clinician in the Tavistock Clinic's specialist Trauma Unit and worked additionally with many complex adult patients with significant psychiatric morbidity.

In March 2014, I left my post at the Tavistock to take up the role of Clinical Lead and Director Elect for the Clinic for Dissociative Studies, UK, a well-reputed and specialised, NHS-funded, national trauma clinic working with survivors of extreme trauma and dissociative disorders in the UK. I became Director of the Clinic in January 2017 upon the retirement of my predecessor and the Clinic's founder, Dr Valerie Sinason.

I have also been working as an Expert Witness in complex trauma since 2002 and have prepared several hundred reports for court connected to the psychological and psychiatric condition of traumatised asylum seekers. I have received a number of commendations for my reports from the UK immigration tribunals for this work.


Presentation(s):

Send Email for Rachel Thomas


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Traumatised Again: The Impact of Incarceration on Detained Asylum Seekers Suffering from Post-traumatic and Dissociative Conditions



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