FD Consultants Psychosocial Support and Trauma Specialist Services

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Articles and Blogs


Articles. Stress

Coping with Stress at Work

Everyone who has ever held a job has, at some point, felt the pressure of work-related stress. Any job can have stressful elements, even if you love what you do. In the short-term, you may experience pressure to meet a deadline or to fulfil a challenging obligation. But when work stress becomes chronic, it can be overwhelming — and harmful to both physical and emotional health. In this weeks blog I share techniques to manage work-related stress.

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Articles. suicide

Supporting Someone Bereaved or Affected by Suicide

It can be hard to know how to talk to someone who has been bereaved - even if they are a close colleague or friend. We often worry about 'saying the wrong thing' or upsetting that person by reminding them of their loss. However, if they are living with their experience of bereavement every day, it is unlikely that we will be raising anything they have not already been thinking about.

If someone close to you has been bereaved or affected by suicide, it may be helpful to start off by considering what might make their loss or experience feel different, and then to hold certain things in mind when speaking to that person and to others. This fact sheet provides relevant information, and also details of where those bereaved or affected by suicide can access further support.

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Articles. SuicideAtWork

Suicide at Work

Learning about the death of a colleague through suicide is a particularly shocking experience. It's something that relatively few of us will encounter in our working lives. For those who do, though, it can be bewildering and unsettling - the impact of the event stirring up a range of emotions and reactions throughout teams, departments and organisations.

Bereavement by suicide is considered to be different to other forms of bereavement. This is because it tends to be sudden and unexpected, and because suicide is often violent in nature. All of these factors mean bereavement by suicide has the potential to be experienced as traumatic.

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Articles. HelpingHands

Preparing Ourselves to Support One Another

In this blog Felicity Runchman shifts focus to organisations as wholes - emphasising how beneficial training, awareness-raising and general preparedness for dealing with staff-care issues can be. FD Consultants are often called in to support staff in the wake of a difficult event. This can be something as broad in scope and large in scale as a major terrorist attack, or something like the death of a staff member at work, which, whilst much smaller in reach, can be no less de-stabilizing.

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Articles. FionaDunkley

Celebrating our first year

Fiona Dunkley, founder of FD Consultants, is passionate about caring for the carers of our world. She is a senior accredited MBACP Psychotherapist, Trauma Specialist, Trainer, Supervisor and Mediator. She is a member of BACP, EMDR, UKRCP and ESTSS.

Fiona founded FD Consultants one year ago, offering psychosocial support and trauma specialist services for humanitarian aid organisations and individuals that may be suffering from trauma, vicarious trauma, burnout or acute stress. Associates offer consultancy services to strengthen organisations resilience and that of their staff.

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Articles. TraumaGrabBag

The complete trauma grab bag

The nature of the human spirit is resilient and strong; we thrive for survival against all odds. ‘I couldn’t possibly describe [PTSD] as an illness. All my research, all my years of clinical experience, had led me to believe it was a survival tool: perhaps our ultimate survival tool’ (Turnbull, 2011).

My experience of PTSD, over 20 years ago, took me on a journey where I transitioned from working in advertising to becoming a trauma specialist therapist, trainer, speaker and writer. I wanted to use my experience to help others and prevent individuals from suffering in silence for years.

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Articles. EMDR

Emergency Response Case Study

There are several different approaches to psychotherapy, which can be confusing if you are searching for a therapist. It is important to be aware that some therapists will state that they work with trauma but will not have had specialist trauma training. In basic terms there are three main approaches to psychotherapy: Psychodynamic, Humanistic and Cognitive Behavioural therapies.

All trauma approaches aim to help the client to create a trauma narrative, find meaning in the event, and reduce the trauma symptoms, whether through talking, drawing, play or writing. Most trauma models follow a three-step treatment programme: stabilisation, processing and integration (Herman, 1997).

In this weeks blog I'm sharing a case study that presents a first-hand experience of how EMDR works.

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Articles. Stand up to Stigma

Workplace Stigma about Mental Health

The stigma attached to mental health issues persists around the world. Many still find it hard to talk about their condition with their doctor, let alone discuss them in public. Therefore, we need to continue to work on creating an environment where people feel comfortable speaking up and seeking professional support.

Around 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem this year yet the shame and silence can be as bad as the mental health problem itself. Your attitude to mental health could change someone’s life.

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Articles. BBCWorldNews

BBC World News – Aid workers' mental health

Today at 12.30pm the BBC World News Channel ran a piece talking about the mental health of aid workers. As my regular followers know, this is an area I am extremely passionate about and feel that wider discussion is needed on the subject to support humanitarian aid workers, and those working in the armed forces or as first responders.

Unfortunately I wasn’t available for the interview on the programme but I was very pleased to provide them with interesting statistics to support the discussions.

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Articles. BACP Conf 2018

Mindfulness Exercise - Blog 4 of 4

In this fourth and final short clip of my presentation for the BACP Conference I wanted to share with you a simple mindfulness exercise that everyone can do at any point during their day.

Mindfulness is a useful tool for managing anxiety and stress. Regular mindfulness exercises can change our brain functioning and enable us to remain more rational and become less reactive and emotional.

Click here to see the presentation


Articles. BACP Conf 2018

Trauma Management Programme (for organisations) - Blog 3 of 4

The third blog in this series shares a short snip of my presentation at the BACP Conference which focusses on developing a ‘trauma management programme’ part of a critical incident plan.

The Trauma Management Programme should define every stage of a critical incident, from early intervention, trauma-specific treatments, follow-up, right through to recovery. A well thought-through critical incident plan saves lives and helps people recover quicker. Staff need training, guidance, knowledge and clear policies. The reality is that major incidents almost always catch us unaware; therefore, forward planning is essential.

Click here to see the presentation


Articles. BACP Conf 2018

Vicarious Trauma – Blog 2 of 4

In this blog I’m pleased to share with you a second short clip of my presentation from the BACP Conference, focussing on vicarious trauma.

Vicarious trauma, also known as secondary trauma, can be described as indirect exposure to a traumatic event through first-hand account or narrative of that event. People in the helping professions, counsellors and therapists, humanitarian aid workers, emergency first responders, journalists, police officers, doctors, and lawyers, may be at risk of vicarious traumatisation. Any person who has a significant relationship with a survivor of trauma may also come to experience vicarious trauma.

Click here to see the presentation


Articles. YouTube

Caring for the carer - Part 1 of 4

I had the honour to present at a recent BACP Conference in relation to caring for the carer and discussing support methods for those who are impacted by trauma, either first hand or vicariously.

Building resilience is about learning to respect and take care of yourself, I have created a resilience toolkit acronym using the word RESPECT. I recommend accumulating a good balance of resources that cover the following areas: Relaxation, Education, Social, Physical, Exercise, Creativity and Thinking.

Click here to see the presentation


Articles. Carer

Aid work: Caring for the Carers

Working within the field of trauma is deeply moving. I have been doing so for over 17 years, and in my view it is completely unacceptable to continue to hear stories of carers who have fallen through the net of care.

In this weeks blog post I talk about self-care and what organisations should be doing to protect and care for their staff.

Click here to read the full review


Articles. Book Cover

Book Review: Psychosocial Support for Humanitarian Aid Workers

Its not often you get a book review that is so glowing you get a sense of pride swell up inside you, but this is one review Fiona is very proud to share with everyone.

Written by Tobias Denskus who is a researcher and teacher, this review comes from someone within the industry and with vast experience in the humanitarian aid sector. He is a Senior Lecturer in Communication for Development in the School of Arts and Communication at Malmö University in Sweden. Tobias declares himself as a citizen of Aidland, having worked, lived, listened to people and experiencing international peacebuilding in Nepal, humanitarian work in Kabul, Afghanistan and research on German peacebuilding projects in Macedonia. Tobias completed his PhD at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at the University of Sussex and the wonders of transnational aid communities never cease to surprise him.

Click here to read the full review


Articles. Flight, fight, freeze, fawn

The survival response

What might you do if you are confronted with a traumatic incident? Would you confront the situation or would you run away, call for help or freeze on the spot?

The three main reactions to trauma are ‘Fight’, ‘Flight’ or ‘Freeze’. The fourth, less acknowledged, reaction is ‘Fawn’ (appease).

Click here to read the full article


Articles. Derbyshire

Sexual violence within the humanitarian aid sector

Another damming report today on sexual exploitation and sexual violent crime taking place within the aid sector, by the Victoria Derbyshire BBC programme. We need to create channels to address these issues and to enable staff to feel safe talking about their experiences openly.

Sexual violence has been described as entrenched and endemic within the humanitarian aid sector. Many have reported that perpetrators are often male figures in senior positions, which leaves staff feeling disempowered from speaking out and reporting. Staff describe a culture of scapegoating those who speak out, lack of psychosocial support for those impacted, and lack of sufficient and appropriate policies. Could this be defined as the final catastrophe of mission creep?

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Articles. Caring for Carers

Caring for the Carers

Resilience at work is now recognised as a defining characteristic of employees who deal well with the stresses and strains of the modern workplace. Resilience is a person’s capacity to respond to pressure and the demands of daily life. Dictionary definitions include concepts like flexibility, suppleness, durability, strength, speed of recovery and buoyancy. In short, resiliency affects our ability to ‘bounce back’.

In this blog I talk about the reasons why people overlook their own self-care, give ideas on how to create a self-care plan and discuss how we keep an organisation resilient.

Click here to read the full article


Articles. Triggers Blog

Trauma Triggers and how to manage them

With the anniversaries of the Grenfell Tower fire today, and the Manchester Arena bombing, the Westminster and London Bridge terrorist attacks, and attacks in South Sudan on Humanitarian Aid workers, over the last few months, this can be a traumatic time for many as memories of those events come flooding back. Anniversaries and the media coverage can often become triggers, reactivating the brains survival response and retraumatising individuals.

In this week’s blog post I talk about triggers, what they are, how they are formed and how seeking professional advice and support can help individuals recover from trauma symptoms.

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Articles. Respect

RESPECT - Resilience Toolkit (Dunkley, 2018) blog series

I’ve built a toolkit that helps my clients increase their resilience to acute stress and trauma, it covers relaxation, education, social, physical, exercise, creativity, and thinking tools.

I use this bank of resources both personally and with clients, and have seen first-hand the positive effect that using a mixture of these techniques can yield. Click here to read the first blog post in the series

This is the second post of three in my series about building resilience to acute stress and trauma. I'd like to talk about social and physical tools. I’ll look at using human attachments to curb our stress levels, and some of the physical ways we can release tension. Click here to read the second blog post in the series

In my third and final post, I'd like to talk about exercise, creativity, and thinking. Exercise really does release hormones that make you feel yourself again. And coupled with basing your thoughts in reality, these tools will enable you to stay much more resilient to stress and trauma. Click here to read the third blog post in the series


Podcast: The Role of Community in Trauma Therapy

In this excellent podcast interview Trauma Therapist Fiona Dunkley is interviewed by the Arukah Network and shares her knowledge of some of the keys to trauma recovery. Click here to read the full article


Articles. Book Cover

New book offers Psychosocial Support for Humanitarian Aid Workers

A Roadmap of Trauma and Critical Incident Care from author and trauma specialist Fiona Dunkley. Click here to read the full article


Articles. MeToo

Gender Based Violence (GBV), #MeToo

So much has happened recently that feels like progress when it comes to ensuring the right of people to live free from abuse. Millions of people across the world have harnessed the power of social media to demand an end to sexual violence and harassment against individuals using hashtags such as #MeToo, #AidToo, #TimesUp, #YouOkSis, #SayHerName, #MosqueMeToo, #23Days, #OneBillionRising and #EverydaySexism. Click here to read the full article


Articles. BACP Conf 2018

12 years of Trauma: Post trauma support and self-care

Fiona Dunkley, a BACP senior accredited psychotherapist, supervisor and trainer, and Founder of FD Consultants, was pleased to address the audience at the Working with Critical Incidents Conference that took place in Edinburgh on April 17th. Click here to read the full article


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