Welfare

Life after trauma

Jan 2017    

Nestled among old HDB flats in St. George’s Lane is Residence @ St. George’s (RSG). Run by the Methodist Welfare Services in collaboration with the General Conference Women’s Society of Christian Service, it is a rehabilitative haven for troubled young girls aged between 15 and 21 years old, most of whom have been sentenced to serve their probation there.

Trauma therapy for troubled girls

Ms Audrey Rajalingam, a social work veteran of 23 years, heads the hostel. Audrey has just completed a two-year course in Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy. She is one of the few community-based professionals in Singapore equipped to deal with victims of trauma.

Audrey observed that almost all of the girls in the hostel had previously experienced at least one instance of trauma.

Trauma victims often cannot cope with high levels of stress caused by traumatic incidents, which may lead to psychological damage that manifests in behavioural problems.

“Trauma triggers could be anything from experiencing a sudden death or loss of a loved one, to witnessing or directly experiencing family violence or physical abuse,” said Audrey.

While victims exposed to high levels of trauma are given immediate aid, others may stay silent and suppressed. Audrey shared: “During admission interviews with the girls, the training has helped me to identify areas of trauma that were not highlighted before. This is important for professionals to spot as the victim might have tried to normalise the negative experience and hence not speak of it to anyone.”

A full course of trauma therapy can last from 16 to 20 sessions which involve not just the victim but also their families or caregivers.

“With the therapy, we hope to restore the victims to pre-crisis functioning or close to how they were before the traumatic experience.”

Motivating and inspiring

Besides therapy and counselling, RSG also runs motivational courses to encourage and equip the girls.

“To inspire the girls, we have invited individuals from different fields to share their success stories, struggles and how they overcame them. We also had relationship speakers provide insights into developing healthy relationships as opposed to abusive ones,” said Audrey.

“What RSG needs critically are volunteers who can share their expertise and skills. I am looking for people who can provide career guidance and profiling on a voluntary basis. The aim is to help our girls to uncover their inclinations and strengths and educate them about possible career choices, even unconventional ones.”

FIND OUT more about volunteering opportunities at RSG – visit the MWS website at www.mws.sg/volunteer to sign up or email us at volunteer@mws.sg.

By the Methodist Welfare Services Communications Team

Picture above: Audrey at work with one of the residents of RSG.

Photos courtesy of the Methodist Welfare Services

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