Workplace Trauma: Concepts, Assessment, and Interventions

Workplace Trauma: Concepts, Assessment, and Interventions

Workplace Trauma: Concepts, Assessment, and Interventions

Workplace Trauma: Concepts, Assessment, and Interventions


How can organisations defend their employees against psychological trauma? Post-traumatic stress is a topical subject of increasing importance. Yet much of the writing on this subject so far has concerned stress suffered by people exposed to serious turmoil such as war and ethnic conflict. Workplace Trauma is an extremely welcome presentation of the subject of stress in the workplace. This book explores the ways that traumatic events impact the psychological well being of organisations and their employees. The effects of disasters, accidents, crime, injury and death are examined alongside examples of organisational trauma care programmes and reviews of the current thinking regarding post trauma interventions. The insights generated are illustrated with case studies from the author's extensive experience of counselling victims of trauma at work. The theory, research and practical advice contained in this volume will prove a valuable resource for organisations and practitioners seeking guidance on reducing the impact of psychological trauma.


This chapter describes how, throughout history, writers and historians have recognised that following exposure to extreme stress and trauma, people may develop long-term emotional and psychological responses. However, this view took a long time to become established in psychiatry and as late as the nineteenth century there were few psychiatrists who accepted the notion that fear and horror were sufficient to cause a psychological disorder. The experience of dealing with dead and injured soldiers in the First World War provided the background and impetus to the development of new ideas on the origins of psychological trauma. This increase in knowledge has led to the development of a classification of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that is accepted throughout the world.

Trauma in literature

The idea that people can develop physical and psychological disorders following an exposure to a traumatic event that caused them fear or horror rather than a physical injury is not new. Literature has provided us with a rich source of powerful accounts of the human responses to war, murder, rape and other personal disasters. Authors such as Homer in the Iliad and Shakespeare in Henry IV and Macbeth create central characters whose dramatic symptoms and behaviours would today be diagnosed as indicative of post-traumatic stress (Trimble 1981).

Graphic descriptions of human responses to disasters, accidents and wars can be found in many historical documents (Trimble 1985). Samuel Peyps' Diary provides a good example of psychological

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