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Working with child sexual abuse survivors: Trust and trauma in practice

Date: Wednesday, 7 December 2022

Time: 10am-12pm (London, UK) with a ten-minute break

Price: Free

Speakers: Susanna Alyce, Dr Zoë Chouliara, Jodie Ellison, and Dr Angela Kennedy

For: Anyone working with adults or young people who are survivors of child sexual abuse


In the first part of this webinar, Rob Mair will discuss the motivating forces that resulted in this webinar being put together, including the publication of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), and question whether services can be trauma-informed without meaningful dialogue between survivors and professionals.

Four conversations will follow; with Susanna Alyce, Jodie Ellison, Dr Angela Kennedy and Dr Zoë Chouliara. In the first conversation, Bryony Porteous-Sebouhian and Susanna Alyce will talk about trust - what it is, what it feels and looks like to a survivor and why it is essential to establishing and maintaining meaningful relationships. They will consider the barriers that can stand in the way of establishing trusted relationships with survivors and what can be done to develop awareness of them and overcome them.

In conversation with Bryony Porteous-Sebouhian, Jodie Ellison will discuss the experiences of survivors with a psychiatric diagnosis in services, the importance of the first point of contact, and how a diagnosis might impact the ongoing experience of that service. They will provide essential insight for professionals across different services, and will highlight the importance of the lived experience survivor voice in learning how to build those trusting relationships and avoid harm.

In the third conversation, Dr Angela Kennedy will critically reflect with Rob Mair on the impact diagnosis can have on survivors' experience of care and treatment. Dr Kennedy will discuss how a trauma-informed, person-centred approach can positively change a survivor's experience with professionals, and reflect on learning that can impact the survivor experience with a range of professionals across different services.

In the final conversation, Edward Brown and Dr Zoë Chouliara will consider the factors that can influence the practitioner-survivor relationship, such as vicarious trauma and re-traumatisation. In the discussion, Dr Chouliara will also detail good practice skills which can establish and maintain a meaningful trusted relationship between professionals and survivors.



Learning outcomes:

  • Develop a deeper understanding of trust; how it is experienced by survivors and what can prevent you from trusting and being trusted
  • Critically reflect on the relationships you have established with survivors - are they based on trust?
  • Consider what survivors can teach you about how to develop trusted professional relationships
  • Develop awareness of how diagnosis can negatively impact on survivors' experience of care and treatment
  • Understand the importance of monitoring your own responses to survivors - are you experiencing vicarious trauma or otherwise impacted?
  • Consider what trauma-informed, person-centred practice with survivors might look like and what support you need to deliver it
  • Build confidence in your ability to positively impact how survivors experience services.


Who should attend?

  • Mental health workers from psychiatrists to lead practitioners and mental health social workers
  • Social workers (both adult and children's)
  • Probation staff
  • Youth Offending Team workers
  • Police officers
  • Health professionals
  • Education professionals
  • Occupational therapists

Meet the speakers

Susanna Alyce

Susanna Alyce is currently studying her PhD at the University of Essex, where, motivated by her own lived experience as a survivor, she is exploring the topics of trust and trustworthiness, betrayal and relationship repair for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Susanna has an MSc in Teaching Mindfulness from Bangor University and has been teaching trauma-informed Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction/Cognitive Therapy since 2010 as well as teaching Yoga since 2001. Her research is situated in the "Mad Studies", autoethnographic and survivor informed domain, where she seeks to build bridges between empirical research, and lived-experience.

Dr Zoë Chouliara

Dr Zoë Chouliara, Senior Consulting Psychologist, is an award-winning clinical academic. She has 14 years of clinical experience and 10 years of clinical supervisory experience in working with severe and complex presentations of adversity and childhood abuse across the NHS, voluntary, and independent sectors. Dr Chouliara is also the lead author of the Acts of Recovery, the first research-based, survivor-centred self-help resource for survivors of childhood abuse, named in the Top 100 Nation’s Lifesavers List in May 2019.

Jodie Ellison

Jodie Ellison, a mum of two, works in primary education and has recently finished an undergraduate degree in psychology. Her lived experience as a survivor of childhood abuse led to her being involved with MH services for much of her life, and recently she has begun to use these experiences to help facilitate knowledge of sexual trauma and to contribute to the understanding of the need to make MH services, schools and research more person-centred. She has contributed to a manifesto for change and written blogs, advocating for trauma informed pathways in health care. She has also built peer support groups in her local area, which promotes giving survivors a space for support to share their experiences at their own pace, promoting choice and offering validation and empathy.

Dr Angela Kennedy

Dr Angela Kennedy, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Lead for Trauma Informed Community of Action, has worked in mental health with the effects of trauma and dissociation for over 30 years. She is an EMDR and Compassion Focused Therapist and supports leaders and services to co-create compassionate and trauma-informed services through system transformation. Dr Kennedy has set up the North East and North Cumbria Staff Wellbeing Hub as part of that project and is the Clinical Director.