PSYC09007 2017 Traumatic Experiences: Psychological impact across the lifespan

General Details

Full Title
Traumatic Experiences: Psychological impact across the lifespan
Transcript Title
Trauma - Psychological impact
100 %
Subject Area
PSYC - Psychology Studies
SOCS - Social Sciences
09 - NFQ Level 9
05 - 05 Credits
Start Term
2017 - Full Academic Year 2017-18
End Term
9999 - The End of Time
Breda McTaggart, Rosaleen Rushe
Programme Membership
SG_WSOWO_M09 201800 Master of Arts in Social Work

Positive attachment experiences underpin healthy psychological development throughout the lifespan. This module will start with a review of attachment theories and the conditions underpinning the development of mature and adaptive attachment relationships. The course will help the learner formulate how traumatic experiences in early childhood disrupt the development of healthy attachment behaviours and how such disruption is linked to the development of psychological difficulties throughout life. 

Learners will be helped to apply the above knowledge to their work as social workers. For example, they will learn about the importance of and the conditions that promote well-adjusted attachment behaviours. They will learn to analyse the dynamics underpinning transgenerational abuse, how to understand difficult to manage behaviour in residential settings, how to recognise challenges to foster carers in relation to attachment issues with foster children. They will learn how to conceptualise presenting difficulties in client groups from a trauma perspective. They will also obtain skills in relation to interventions required to help people deal with trauma-related problems. For example, they will learn how difficulties in self-regulation as a result of traumatic experiences (in particular in relation to attachment) create huge challenges to children and adults and how self-regulation deficits often present as aggression etc. The learners will be helped to look beyond such labels as "challenging behaviour" and instead frame challenges and difficulties in a more informed and constructive manner.

This module supports the achievement of CORU Standards of Proficiency as follows:

  • Domain 1: Professional Autonomy and Accountability
  • Domain 2: Interpersonal and Professional Relationships
  • Domain 3: Effective Communication
  • Domain 5: Provision of Quality Services
  • Domain 6: Knowledge, Understanding and Skills

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module the learner will/should be able to;


To be able to critically analyse variables linked to both positive and negative attachment behaviours. (Domain: 1.1 (a), 1.2 (e), 1.4 (d), 1.6 (a).  Domain: 2.1 (c), 2.1 (d), Domain: 3.1 (d).  Domain: 3.2 (c). Domain: 4.1 (c), 4.1 (f). Domain: 5.1 (a), 5.1 (d), 5.4 (a), 5.5 (a), 5.8 (d).  Domain:  6.1 (f), 6.2 (c), 6.3 (c), 6.3 (d)).


Debate how our understanding of the impact of traumatic experiences has evolved and how this understanding guides interventions.Domain 1.1 (a), 1.2 (e), 1.4 (d), 1.6 (a), 1.6 (d).  Domain: 2.1 (d), Domain: 3.1 (d),  3.2 (c).  Domain: 5.1 (a), 5.1 (d), 5.4 (a), 5.5 (a), 5.8 (d). Domain: 6.1 (f), 6.2 (c), 6.3 (c) , 6.3(d)).


Demonstrate from theoretical perspectives a thorough understanding of the impact of traumatic experiences on people including the disruption to neurobiological, attachment, social, emotional domains etc. (Domain: 1.1 (a), 1.2 (e), 1.4 (d), 1.6 (a), 1.8 (b).  Domain: 2:1 (d).  Domain: 3.1 (d),        Domain:   3.2 (c). Domain: 4.1 (f).  Domain: 5.1 (a), 5.1 (d),  5.3 (d), 5.4 (a), 5.5 (a),  5.8 (b), 5.8 (d). Domain:  6.1 (d), 6.1.(e), 6.1 (f), 6.2 (c), 6.2 (e), 6.3 (c) 6.3 (d).


Formulate the links between disrupted developmental trajectories (due to traumatic experiences) and chronic adverse reactions across the lifespan using evidence-based research.(Domain: 1.1 (a), 1.2 (e), 1.4 (d), 1.6 (a), 1.6 (d).  Domain: 2.1 (c), 2:1 (d).  Domain: 3.1 (d).  Domain: 3.2 (c).  Domain: 5.1 (a),    5.1 (d), 5.4 (a), 5.5 (a), 5.8 (d).  Domain: 6.1 (f),  6.2 (c), 6.3 (c),  6.3 (d).


Analyse how the knowledge (1-4 above) informs social work practice, in particular in relation to assessment and recommendations for interventions working within a multi-disciplinary context. (Domain: 1.2 (a), 1.2 (d), 1.2 (e), 1.4 (d), 1.5 (a), 1.6 (c).  Domain: 2.1 (d), 2.2 (a). Domain: 3.1 (g), 3:2 (c). Domain 4.1 (b) Domain: 5.1 (a), 5.1 (d),  5.8 (d).  Domain: 6.1 (a), 6.1 (f), 6.3 (c), 6.3 (e).

Teaching and Learning Strategies

Learners will be taught through lecture, tutorial and self-directed strategies.

Module Assessment Strategies

Two types of assessments will be undertaken by the learners.

Assessment One: an essay of 3000 words addressing learning outcomes 1-4. The student will select either a particular client group or a specific type of trauma and will apply knowledge acquired from learning outcomes 1-4.

Assessment Two: A presentation in class using a case study format. Learners to make recommendations for interventions and demonstrate an understanding of multi-disciplinary teamwork. This presentation will apply knowledge acquired from learning outcomes 1-4 and guidelines for the presentation will address learning outcome 5.

This module’s assessments allow for assessment of CORU Standards of Proficiency as follows:

One: Essay: 50%

  • Domain: 1.1 (a), 1:2 (e), 1:4 (d), 1:6 (c), 1:6 (d) 1:8 (b).
  • Domain: 2:1 (c), 2.1 (d).
  • Domain: 3:1 (d), 3:2 (c).
  • Domain: 4.1(b), 4.1 (c), 4.1(f),
  • Domain: 5:1 (a), 5:1 (d), 5:3 (d), 5:4 (a), 5:5 (a), 5:8 (b) 5:8(d).
  • Domain: 6:1 (a), 6:1 (d), 6.1(e), 6:1 (f), 6:2 (c), 6:3 (c) 6:3(d).

Two: Presentation: 50%

  • Domain: 1.1 (a), 1:2 (a), 1:2(d), 1:2 (e), 1:4 (d), 1:5 (a), 1:6 (a), 1:6 (c) 1:8 (b).
  • Domain: 2:1 (c), 2.2 (a)
  • Domain: 3:1 (g), 3:2 (c).
  • Domain: 4:1(b)
  • Domain: 5:1 (a), 5:1 (d), 5:8 (d).
  • Domain: 6:1 (a), 6:1 (f); 6:2 (e ), 6.3 (e )

Repeat Assessments

A repeat of both assessments will take the same format. Repeat assignment requirements will be clearly outlined to the learner.

Indicative Syllabus

LO1 Attachment:

How does attachment develop? Optimum conditions for positive attachment. Adverse conditions and their impact on attachment development. Interventions that promote good attachment bonds.

Understanding of traumatic experience:

An exploration of the evolution in our understanding of the impact of traumatic experience on psychological functioning.

Trauma impact as an interaction between the traumatic event, the person and the environment.

Different types of traumatic experiences and their unique consequences. The resilience or lack of in relation to personal responses to trauma. Environmental maintaining and modulation variables in relation to trauma responses.

Prevalence of traumatic events, risk factors and co-morbidity. Vulnerabilities in relation to age, race, socio-economic status etc.

Peri-traumatic, pre and post-traumatic variables including type of trauma, level of exposure, natural or man-made, perpetrator, levels of exposure and chronicity etc.

Appraisals of safety, coping mechanisms (dissociation, numbing, internalising, externalising behaviours), attributions, cognitive appraisals and supports etc.

LO2 Impact of trauma:

Impact on the neurobiology of the developing brain and implications for future coping. Impact on attachment, social, emotional and cognitive domains etc. Understanding difficulties in psychological functioning from a trauma perspective. The response of the social worker within a multi-disciplinary approach to trauma presentations across the lifespan.

LO3 Disrupted developmental trajectories linked to adverse reactions across the lifespan:

A thorough understanding of the psychological difficulties associated with traumatic experiences. Understanding of the links between affective, depressive, conduct, eating, behavioural difficulties etc. and trauma. Trauma responses are developmentally linked and this course will map the likely presentations of traumatic responses across the lifespan. It will also differentiate the responses from different types of trauma, for example, psychosocial trauma, physical trauma, neglect and sexual abuse, etc.

LO4 Implications for social work practice:

Learning outcome 1-4 are applied in class discussion and assignments to demonstrate how this knowledge is applied from a social worker perspective, How is this knowledge of benefit when working with children, children in foster care, residential care, children from different cultural backgrounds etc. How does this knowledge relate to homeless youth adults? How does this knowledge apply to elder abuse, elderly living at home or in other forms of care? Why does the social worker need to understand trauma and all its manifestations? How does knowledge of the impact of trauma inform social workers when assessing and monitoring care facilities? Linking this knowledge to working effectively in a multi-disciplinary team.

LO5 Analyse how the knowledge (1-4 above) informs social work practice:

LO5 is assessed by a case study presentation, applying knowledge acquired from the module.

Coursework & Assessment Breakdown

End of Semester / Year Formal Exam
100 %

Coursework Assessment

Title Type Form Percent Week Learning Outcomes Assessed
1 Essay on either traumatic event or a client group Continuous Assessment Essay 50 % End of Semester 1,2,3,4
2 Class presentation demonstration knowledge acquired from LO 1-5 Continuous Assessment Project 50 % End of Semester 1,2,3,4,5

Full Time Mode Workload

Type Location Description Hours Frequency Avg Workload
Lecture Flat Classroom Lecture 1 Weekly 1.00
Tutorial Flat Classroom Tutorial 2 Weekly 2.00
Independent Learning Not Specified Independent Learning 4.5 Weekly 4.50
Total Full Time Average Weekly Learner Contact Time 3.00 Hours

Required & Recommended Book List

Recommended Reading
2010 treating traumatic stress in children and adolescence guilford press

trauma treatment

Recommended Reading
2012 child abuse assessment strategy and inventories. In L. Perry (ed) Family assessment: contemporary and cutting edge strategies routledge


Recommended Reading
2013 The body keeps the score: Brain, mind and body in the healing of trauma viking


Recommended Reading
2016 Complex trauma and complex PTSD American Psychological Association


Recommended Reading
2014 Trauma in older adults Guilford

older adults

Recommended Reading
2015 trauma and recovery: the aftermath of violence from domestic abuse to political terror Basic Books


Recommended Reading
2010 In an unspoken voice: How the body releases trauma and restores goodness North Atlantic Books


Recommended Reading
2008 Healing from Trauma: A survivor's guide to understanding your symptoms and reclaiming your life Marlowe and Company


Recommended Reading
2012 The impact of complex trauma on development Aronson publishing


Recommended Reading
2010 The impact of early life trauma on health and disease Cambridge University Press


Recommended Reading
2016 Treating trauma and traumatic grief in children and adolescents Guilford Press


Recommended Reading
2017 Healing the fragmented selves of trauma survivors: Overcoming internal self-alienation Francis and Taylor


Recommended Reading
2018 Beyond PTSD: Helping and Healing Teens exposed to Trauma American Psychiatric Association

Recommended Reading
2018 PTSD: A short History John Hopkin's University Press

Required Reading
2018 Post Traumatic Growth Routledge

Module Resources

URL Resources

Databases on the IT library site in particular "Web of Science"

Other Resources

A large volume of up to date research is published in the following journals:

Journal of Child and Adolescent Trauma

Journal of Traumatic Stress

Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Child Abuse and Neglect

Journal of Child Sexual Abuse

Journal of Family Violence

Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Violence

Journal of Child and Adolescent Substance Abuse

Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry

Clinical Psychology Review

Journal of Family Violence

British Journal of Social Work

Criminal Justice and Behaviour

Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy

Development and Psychopathology

Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal

Journal of Mental Health Research in Intellectual Disability

Additional Information