Towards a relational understanding of trauma narration in coping with collective violence and exile. The interdisciplinary development of community-based mental health interventions for refugee posttrauma care

Start - End 
2020 - 2023 (ongoing)
Department of Art, music and theatre sciences



This research focuses on the development of refugee posttrauma care in the field of transcultural psychology and applied theatre in western host societies. With respect to refugee posttrauma care, both fields’ mental health interventions are dominated by similar practices underpinned by an individualizing notion of the process of trauma narration, in which verbally retelling traumatic experiences directly leads to recovery. However, analogous developments in both fields raise critical questions on this individualizing notion, resulting in a seminal development of a relational conceptualization of trauma narration. In a first empirical approach, our PhD research contributed to the empirical articulation of the relational nature of trauma narration. In this postdoctoral study we aim to further the emerging relational understanding of trauma narration by conducting an empirical follow-up analysis of different relational contexts that shape the process of trauma narration building upon our dataset. Secondly, based on this advanced relational understanding, we develop the clinical operationalization of both disciplines’ community-based mental health interventions unpinned by a relational perspective on trauma narration and empirically analyze 1) group-based community therapy and 2) therapeutic theatre. The study therefore aims to contribute to further the evidence-based practice of innovative community-based mental health interventions in refugees’ coping with trauma and exile.





Lucia De Haene

Cécile Rousseau

McGill University