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Q&A: Trauma Resiliency Program to change culture around PTSD


Tim Black, Trauma Resiliency Program co-developer and designer

Wounded Warriors Canada (WWC) announced today the launch of a new Trauma Resiliency Program (TRP) for serving members of the Canadian Forces, veterans and first responders who have been exposed to traumatic events. 

The TRP is an innovative Operational Stress Injury program designed and developed by University of Victoria counselling psychologist Tim Black and Alex Sterling, who holds a master’s degree in counselling psychology from UVic. It combines a group-based training program with the power of a team approach and trauma-resilient skills development.

Tim Black, chair of UVic’s Educational Psychology & Leadership Studies, explains what’s unique about the program and why society needs to rethink PTSD.

Q. Why did you create this new program?

A. We want to change the culture around PTSD in our society, particularly with veterans and first responders who are exposed to traumatic events on a regular basis. We’re directly addressing the role that societal responses play in traumatization.

Q. What part does society at large play in an individual’s recovery from trauma?

A. Traumatization occurs in part because of the way people respond to others following traumatic exposure. A society that stigmatizes and shames individuals who are exposed to trauma contributes to the process of traumatization. We need to get to a place where people feel the same about seeking treatment for PTSD as we do about going to the gym to recover from an injury—to see it not as an indication of weakness, but a sign of resiliency and strength.

Q. What’s unique about the approach in the trauma resilience program?

A. What’s new about this program is the focus on changing the culture of psychological injuries from one of perceived weakness to one where hard work is required, team work is valued and transformation is the goal. We are shifting away from the illness models and helping people understand that the “blood, sweat and tears” required for recovering from post-traumatic stress is something that people can be proud of and even share with their communities. In an era of violence and ever-increasing trauma, recovery becomes an act of courage, resistance and resilience.

Q. What does resiliency have to do with recovery from PTSD?

Living with and recovering from PTSD requires a tremendous amount of individual resiliency. Effective education, skills training and strategic use of social responses can help to increase an individual’s resilience in their process and help to protect from future harm due to stigmatization. 

Q. How has previous research informed your approach?

A. Previous research studies on group-based couples counselling for PTSD (COPE) have influenced our desire to create a program for trauma that focuses on the value of social interventions in addressing PTSD. Also, the dialogues and conversations taking place at national conferences such as the Canadian Institute for Military and Veterans Health Research (CIMVHR) Annual Forum are addressing the connections between shame and PTSD recovery.

Listen to Tim Black, national clinical advisor for Wounded Warriors Canada, at the Oct. 12 announcement in Victoria or watch the full media event here.


Media contacts

Tim Black (Dept. of Educational Psychology & Leadership Studies) at 250-721-7798 or tblack@uvic.ca

Suzanne Ahearne (University Communications + Marketing) at 250-721-6139 or sahearne@uvic.ca

In this story

Keywords: PTSD, trauma, war, mental health, community, educational psychology and leadership studies

People: Tim Black

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