A Collaborative Approach to Supporting Adult Survivors of Childhood Abuse

An interdisciplinary panel considers how to best support Judy, a grandmother with a history of anxiety and depression, who presents at her local hospital's emergency department with suicidal thoughts.

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Learning outcomes

By watching this webinar you will:

  • develop a raise awareness of the prevalence of and indicators for complex trauma
  • be better able to identify the key principles of intervention in the featured disciplines’ assessment, treatment and support of people who have experienced complex trauma
  • recognise the merits, challenges and opportunities of interdisciplinary collaboration in providing mental health support for people who have experienced complex trauma.


Dr Mary Emeleus
Qualifications: MBBS BSc(Med), FRACGP Grad Dip Rural, MMH (Psychotherapy)
Profession: General Practitioner
Mary is a GP and Psychotherapist working at headspace Cairns. She has a mixed role as Senior Clinician, including seeing clients for medical, psychological medicine and psychotherapy appointments, supervising counselling staff and contributing to management. She previously worked at headspace Townsville for four years in a similar role and was GP Advisor to Mental Health Programs for Townsville-Mackay Medicare Local. 

Her professional interests include lifestyle medicine, adolescent mental health, early psychosis intervention, psychological and social approaches to psychosis, Balint groups and Psychodynamic, Jungian and Existential theory & practice. 

Memberships include Australian Society for Psychological Medicine (www.aspm.org.au) (committee member), RACGP NFSI Psychological Medicine Network, Balint Society of Australia and the International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis (ISPS) (www.isps.org.au). 


  • Dr Cathy Kezelman
    Profession: Consumer advocate
    Based in: Sydney, NSW

    Dr Cathy Kezelman is the director of ASCA (Adults Surviving Child Abuse), a national organisation dedicated to meeting the often complex needs of the more than 2 million Australian adults abused as children.

    She has worked for 20 years in medical practice, mainly as a GP and over the last decade has held leadership roles in ASCA. In that time she has facilitated the introduction of evidence-based programs, education and training for health care professionals while advocating for a trauma-informed approach to care and practice.

    Cathy published a memoir early in 2010, Innocence Revisited - a tale in parts, which chronicles her battle with depression and suicidality, at the core of which was unresolved childhood trauma.

  • Dr Joanna Lynch
    Qualifications: MBBS, FRACGP, Grad Cert (Grief and Loss)
    Profession: General Practitioner
    Based in: Manly, QLD
    Dr Johanna Lynch (MBBS FRACGP Grad Cert (Grief and Loss) is a General Practitioner with post graduate training in grief and loss and ongoing professional education in dissociation, trauma and attachment. Her unique skill set facilitate the promotion of mental health in a primary care setting. She has s special interest in survivors of childhood trauma and facilitating each person’s growth within their community.

    Dr Lynch has a passion for primary mental health care, and is founding director of Integrate Place, a multidisciplinary mental wellness centre located in suburban Brisbane. She was awarded a Primary Health Care Research Fellowship at University of Queensland in 2009 and 2010 researching best practice in primary mental health care assessment culminating in a paper published in Jan 2012 in Social Science and Medicine entitled ‘Beyond symptoms: Defining primary care clinical mental health assessment priorities, process and content.’

    Dr Lynch is a Fellow of the RACGP and Member of the Australian Society of Psychological Medicine and the Cannan Institute. She actively supports Blue Knot day in Brisbane, an annual event initiated by ASCA, asking all Australians to unite in support of the more than 2 million Australian adults who are survivors of childhood trauma and neglect in our community.

  • Mr Phillip Hilder
    Profession: Psychologist
    Based in: Sydney, NSW
    Philip Hilder has practiced as a counsellor and psychotherapist since 1990, and was registered as a psychologist in 2003. He has worked in the addictions and mental health field with government and non-government service providers. Philip’s clinical interest is in complex trauma assessment and treatment and his preferred treatment method is Hakomi and Sensorimotor psychotherapy. Philip has offered teaching and supervision on complex client presentations since 2000. He is an experienced complex trauma clinician, supervisor and educator.

  • Dr Richard Benjamin
    Dr Richard Benjamin finished his Psychiatry training with the RANZCP in 2001, and his Adult Psychotherapy training in the Conversational Model of Meares and Hobson (largely a therapy that addresses the adult sequelae of childhood trauma in the therapeutic relationship) in 2009. He works in the adult public mental health service in Tasmania, predominantly in acute and chronic community work, although he also does some inpatient work.

    He is particularly interested in the recognition and management of the long-term sequelae of childhood abuse in adult patients presenting with serious mental illness, and the systemic response to this patient group. He is also interested more broadly in the system as it impacts upon all patients suffering with mental illness. In community work this particularly involves the issue of continuity of care and of carer, the benefits of the “in-house crisis team,” and the importance of the therapeutic relationship in general. In inpatient work he is also interested in the role of therapeutic engagement, and in the reduction of seclusion and restraint.

Participants who attended the webinar provided the following feedback:

Learning needs

Responses to this question indicate that 90% of survey respondents felt this learning objective was ‘entirely met’ with 10% indicating it was ‘partially met’

Relevance to practice

When asked to rate how relevant the webinar was to the clinicians own practice, 87% stated it was ‘entirely relevant’. 12% marked it as ‘partially relevant’

Practice change

96% of respondents intend to make changes to their clinical work practice as a result of attending the webinar.