Thursday, 28 July 2011

Introducing Professor Beverley Raphael

Beverley Raphael is Professor of Population Mental Health and Disasters within the Medical School at the University of Western Sydney, Professor of Psychological Medicine at the Australian National University, and Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry from the University of Queensland.

Professor Raphael has longstanding links with the Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health (ACPMH), and was involved in the development of the Centre’s Guidelines for the Treatment of Adults with Acute Stress Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, working closely with Mark Creamer.

She brings over 50 years experience to the field of mental health and the discussion on trauma, loss, and grief. Her long history of working with patients in the community as a general practitioner and in community psychiatry, as well as her body of research, will inform her keynote address to the Many Paths, One Purpose Expert Forum hosted by the ACPMH on 12 August 2011.

As a general practitioner in the early 1960s, Professor Raphael treated many Second Word War veterans with psychiatric conditions, whose problems at the time were often labeled as ‘inadequate personalities’ or ‘anxiety neuroses’. Recently she said:
“I’ve always been curious about war and what it does to people’s lives. As a general practitioner I saw a common link between people who were significantly traumatised by war and I was convinced that the understanding of these conditions was limited by the social context and culture of the time.”

Professor Raphael will explore the broader context of psychological trauma – our understanding of trauma, models of care and human resilience, as well as the key factors that influence this understanding.

Considering the current state of play in the field of posttraumatic mental health, she sees new approaches as key to overcoming future challenges and addressing the effects of trauma as just one of the many adversities of human experience. She is also adamant that mental health professionals should keep questioning the assumptions underlying best practice in the light of cultural and social change:
“Even today our treatments and systems of care for people are based on our identification of problems within the boxes we have created in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – but our understanding of trauma needs to be much wider. We must be wary of complacency and ideologies that make us think we’ve solved this problem and we must stay curious about how we may best help people with these inevitable aspects of human experience.”

Further information about Professor Raphael’s work visit: www.uws.edu.au/medicine/som/key_people/professor_beverley_raphael

For further information on the ACPMH Expert Forum, Many Paths One Purpose, click here.

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