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NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors

Sleep Impairment in Survivors of Torture and Refugee Trauma: From Research to Clinical Implications and Treatment

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Dr July Lies
Senior Clinical Psychologist
Monash University

Mirjana Askovic
Senior Psychologist/Neurofeedback Coordinator, STARTTS

People who have survived torture and refugee trauma are often exposed to prolonged and complex trauma and multiple losses resulting in complex presentations, with psychological and physical problems. Sleep disorders are a very common presentation, resulting in chronic tiredness, fatigue, impaired memory, excessive day time sleepiness, relationship stress, greater risk of car accident, as well as impacts on physical health such as high blood pressure, risk of heart attack, heart failure and stroke. In this Clinical Master Class, held on 6 December 2022, Dr July Lies, a senior clinical psychologist, presented a summary of the literature on the relationship between sleep disturbance and mental health in refugees, the prevalence estimate of sleep disturbance among different groups of the refugee population living in Australia, the psychosocial and demographic factors associated with greater sleep disturbance, conceptual models that combine trauma exposure, post-migration stress, sleep symptoms, and mental health symptoms, as well as providing a review on the available treatments for sleep disturbances and nightmares for refugees. Mirjana Askovic, a senior psychologist, the Neurofeedback Program Coordinator at STARTTS and the Director for the Australian Neurofeedback Institute (ANFI), demonstrated STARTTS’ work with a case presentation.

View the two lectures and panel discussion by clicking on the course content below. When you are finished you can request the system send you a certificate of completion. The slide PDFs are available in the Materials tab above.

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