The Long-Term Impact of Childhood Trauma on Adult Mental and Physical Health

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This public screening and discussion will focus on the long-term psychological, emotional, physical and social impact of childhood trauma on the adult. We will be considering how trauma works psychically (in terms of the mind and the body, the individual) and socially (within the context of the community, the group). Trauma can be large or small, a single devastating event or a cumulative set of experiences occurring over a long period of time. Each individual deals with trauma in their own way, but whatever our minds do to try to expunge it, it continues to bubble away and leak out of us in ways we cannot predict or control – in our feelings and thoughts, in how we behave and relate, in our bodies.

Trauma is created through directly experiencing, witnessing or living under the threat of violence and thus unfolds across whole societies that have endured conflict. The consequences of trauma on societies that have experienced conflict continue long after the conflict has ended, passed on through the generations in the intergenerational transmission of trauma. In Northern Ireland, children and young people never exposed to the violence of the Troubles live out the trauma of political violence experienced by previous generations. Rates of mental health problems and suicide are higher in Northern Ireland than other regions of the United Kingdom, a fact attributed to the legacy of the Troubles. Experts in the United States are beginning to develop mechanisms to protect children from the devastating effects of trauma. Their work offers insights for everyone committed to enhancing the life chances of the younger generations here in Northern Ireland.

This interdisciplinary, cross-border event will include a screening of a documentary film, Resilience. After the screening, we have invited five professionals to respond briefly to the film from their areas of expertise. These professionals work in the fields of Counselling, Psychotherapy, Physiotherapy, General Medicine, Social Work, and Documentary Filmmaking. Respondents include Dr Olive Buckley OBE, Ms Lynda Graham, Mr Michael McGibbon, Dr Jolene Mairs Dyer and Mr Christian van der Merwe. Dr Noreen Giffney will chair the responses. After the responses, the audience will be invited to engage in a facilitated discussion on the topic, which will be chaired by Dr Maggie Long. Some questions we have invited the respondents to consider include:

1. How might childhood psychological trauma impact on the family?
2. How might childhood psychological trauma manifest in the counselling consulting room with adult clients?
3. How might psychological trauma manifest in the body when it is too much for the mind to bear?
4. How might childhood psychological trauma enter the GP’s consulting room, particularly as regards adults presenting with psychosomatic symptoms?

This event is open to all. It will be of particular interest to Counsellors, Psychotherapists, Physiotherapists, GPs, Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Nurses, Social Workers and other healthcare professionals, as well as academics and students working in the aforementioned fields. Practitioners in the visual arts and film, as well as academics and students in these fields with an interest in mental health, will also find something of interest here.

The Psychoanalytic Section of the Irish Council for Psychotherapy (ICP) has awarded this event 3.5 CPD points:

This public screening and discussion is the first in a new series of interdisciplinary, cross-border events on mental health and the arts. The series is committed to considering what can happen in the gaps, overlaps and disjunctions between different disciplines, approaches, practices and locations. The series is founded and directed by Dr Noreen Giffney, Dr Maggie Long and Dr Jolene Mairs Dyer. Contact Noreen, Maggie and Jolene to join the mailing list for upcoming events, or if you are interested in collaborating on an event as part of the series.

This event is sponsored by the Centre for Media Research at Ulster University and the Belfast Film Festival.
Period12 Oct 2018
Event typeOther
LocationBelfast, Northern IrelandShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Mental Health
  • Documentary Film
  • Childhood Trauma
  • Counselling
  • Social Work
  • Psychotherapy
  • General Medicine
  • Physiotherapy
  • Film-making
  • Psychoanalysis
  • Psychocultural Studies
  • Psychosocial Studies