Centre for Research and Education in Psychological Trauma

The Centre for Research and Education in Psychological Trauma is based within the Department of Social Studies and Counselling.

I have experienced trauma on both sides – I understand where people who have been through traumatic experiences are coming from. This Centre is here for anyone who is faced with extreme situations in their lives, such as the police, social workers, medical staff and members of the military.
Terry Waite

A research centre at the University of Chester has been launched which will help provide a better understanding of trauma, explore how it impacts upon people in different ways and help professionals to improve the lives of those affected by it.

The pioneering Centre for Research and Education in Psychological Trauma (CREPT) will provide research opportunities, education, training and development, as well as workshops, continuing professional development, conferences, and employer engagement for anyone working in the field of psychological trauma.

The Centre Director is Dr Stuart McNab, a Chartered Counselling Psychologist and Programme Leader for the University’s MSc in Psychological Trauma.

As the first of its kind when it was launched five years ago, this Masters programme helps to provide academic training for professionals whose jobs routinely bring them into contact with vulnerable people.

For Dr McNab the new Centre is the culmination of almost 30 years work in this very specialised area. His research interests are supervising trauma therapists, resilience building, the use of mindfulness in the treatment of trauma and education in trauma and self-care for humanitarian field workers.

He said: “Psychological trauma is a frightening and shattering experience and it can leave those affected vulnerable and withdrawn.

“Studying this area of human experience is challenging and life changing and our hope is that the work that we undertake at the Centre, whether this is furthering research in the field or training those who work in traumatic situations, will contribute to helping people who have been traumatised.”

Joining Dr McNab at the Centre are his colleagues from the University’s Department of Social Studies and Counselling:

• Senior Lecturer Dr Rebekah Lwin, a Consultant Clinical Psychologist who also works at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in the Psychological Services Department

• Senior Lecturer Tony Parnell, a Chartered Counselling Psychologist who also has a private therapy practice with an emphasis on trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

• Visiting Lecturer Professor Gordon Turnbull, a Consultant Psychiatrist at Capio Nightingale Hospital, who was the RAF’s psychiatric adviser during the First Gulf War and has also worked with hostages such as Terry Waite and the families of the Lockerbie bombing victims.

Terry Waite, who officially opened the Centre, sits on the advisory panel which confirms the quality of training offered to students on Psychological Trauma MSc programme and was first connected to Professor Turnbull when he was released from captivity in Beirut in 1991 after more than five years.

Professor Turnbull, then with the RAF’s medical team, helped Mr Waite to deal with the trauma that he had experienced during his captivity.

For Mr Waite the work that CREPT will carry out will be invaluable in the field.

He said: “I have experienced trauma on both sides – I understand where people who have been through traumatic experiences are coming from.

“This Centre is here for anyone who is faced with extreme situations in their lives, such as the police, social workers, medical staff and members of the military.”

One local organisation to have already benefitted from the Centre’s training work is NEWFOCAS, the therapeutic foster agency based in Flintshire which took part in a training programme called Being Mindfully Trauma Informed.

Manager Mike Thomas said: “The first part of the course saw some 50 plus attendees gain great insight into trauma. We explored its effect on development, particularly in children, and the impact it has on the carers who manage the trauma.”

“The attendees included managers, panel members, foster cares and social workers including local authority social workers, and guests from Malta.

“The critical feedback is very positive with attendees commenting positively on the links to theory and practice, and how it gave a better understanding about the brain, how it works, and the devastating effect of trauma for a child’s development.”

To find out more about the educational, research and training opportunities available through CREPT, please contact the Centre by emailing crept@chester.ac.uk or call 01244 511506.