Degree Name

Doctor of Psycology (Clinical)


School of Psychology


Early interventions for trauma aim to reduce the likelihood of distress and impairment following exposure to a traumatic event. However, a growing body of research suggests that some popular early interventions have the potential to increase the risk of psychological sequelae. This risk maybe increased when such interventions are delivered by practitioners with limited skill and training. This thesis discusses the development and training of the 'Orienting Approach' to Trauma Counselling (Phipps and Byme, 2003). This early intervention was designed for use by volunteer counsellors. It is argued that the approach is a 'no-harm' intervention that can reduce the potential for distress and impairment of individuals who have been both directly and indirectly exposed to traumatic events. Eighty volunteer counsellors participated in a one-day training program. The capacity of volunteers to administer the approach was evaluated. Skill was assessed by participation in blind-rated role-plays both before and after training. Knowledge was assessed pre and post-training using a multiple choice questionnaire. This thesis also aimed to investigate variables which may affect counsellors' ability to administer the approach. Since working with traumatised individuals has the potential to 'vicariously' traumatise counsellors, the influence of personal trauma experience on volunteers' performance with the approach was explored. The results showed that volunteers have the capacity to leam and administer the Orienting Approach to Trauma Counselling. Measures of skill and knowledge increased significantly following training. Previous trauma experience did not affect performance. The results present promising empirical support for the use of this intervention by volunteers.

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Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.