Associate Professor, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences
After working as a bricklayer and HGV Class 1 lorry driver, I studied for my BSc in Psychology at Hatfield Polytechnic (now the University of Hertfordshire), and then went on to study for my PhD (The Long Term Effects of War Experience) at the University of Plymouth (1996). I am a Docent in Social Psychology in the Swedish School of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki; a Chartered Health Psychologist and an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society. I am also an honorary member of the Ministry of Welfare and Social Security, Iran, a member of the European Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, UK Trauma Network, and the Society of Authors.
Traumatic stress, narrative approaches, traumatic memory, trauma and coping, alopecia
My teaching is almost exclusively with MSc students
I am also Docent at the University of Helsinki, where I teach a course on traumatic stress
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The focus of my research is on the impact of traumatic events and how to deal with the problems that may arise. .
While my approach is eclectic, one of my main foci is on the role of narrative and narrative development in dealing with traumatic stress. The role of interpersonal and social factors is particularly important. My research is outlined in my book, Memory, War and Trauma (Cambridge, 2010). I am also concerned with the cultural factors, and am involved in research across a number of countries, including research with Bosnian civilians and refugees, Chinese earthquake survivors, the longer term problems of dealing with communism in Eastern Europe, widowed women in India, firefighters in Saudi Arabia, helping civilians in Iraq, and the impact of humanitarian crises on humanitarian aid workers.
This research is not only about gaining an understanding of the impact of traumatic events, but of helping people. We are using narrative and other techniques to help people feel better.
My initial PhD research was on the impact of the Second World War on older veterans. This expanded to veterans of other wars (eg Falklands, Gulf War), and then to other kinds of traumatic events, and events that may not be classified as traumatic under DSM, but are nevertheless potentially very stressful. I have also conducted research on the impact of alopecia (hair loss).
My research is becoming more focused on narrative approaches to dealing with traumatic stress, and in particular approaches that are suitable for use by people with limited training that can help people who have significant trauma-related problems. Our research in China, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Bosnia demonstrates that it is possible for non-clinicians to provide help for people with problems, particularly when that help is ecologically valid, eg by making explicit use of narratives or stories.
I continue to be interested in projects in the wider area of traumatic stress, and am happy to consider interesting applications from potential students wishing to further their research in this area.