Inaugural lecture: give loved ones a central role in the treatment of traumatised patients

Victims of traumatic experiences benefit from the support of their loved ones and the broader community. How can this social support be given shape? And what role does the victim’s social context play in their recovery? These and other questions are at the heart of the inaugural lecture of Professor of Psychotraumatology in a Developmental Perspective, Elisa van Ee, on Wednesday 21 September.

Elisa van Ee pleads for a new perspective on care for victims of trauma in her inaugural lecture, entitled “New Light”. In helping people recover from traumatic experiences, support from loved ones should be given a central role. Van Ee emphasises the importance of care workers adjusting their treatment to the social context of the person they treat.

A trauma victim can greatly benefit from social support, if this support is aligned with how they relate to others over time. People with trauma often experience the world as a dangerous place. Positive interactions with loved ones may reduce this fear and contribute to recovery from trauma.

Elisa van Ee

Van Ee looks at how individual, family, and social factors affect traumatic experiences and the risk of a person developing post-traumatic symptoms. It turns out that the odds of a person developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) partly depend on the social support they receive from their environment. The extent to which a person can make use of social support in turn depends on their earlier experiences with relationships as part of their development.

Ukrainian children with trauma

Van Ee studies various groups of trauma victims, and develops practical applications that care workers can use when working with these groups. For example, she investigated the recovery process of mothers of children born of sexual violence and their children. She launched a website for this group and the professionals working with them.

Van Ee also uses her research to offer practical applications to care workers dealing with traumatised refugees. She advises teachers on how to approach young Ukrainian children in their classrooms, and contributed to a webinar on the care for Ukrainian refugee families with young children.

Reinier van Arkel Chair

In May 2021, Elisa van Ee was appointed Professor of Psychotraumatology in a Developmental Perspective at the Radboud University Faculty of Social Sciences. This chair by special appointment is made possible by Reinier van Arkel, provider of psychological and psychiatric care. Van Ee works for this organisation as a clinical psychologist and is Chief Scientist for Trauma and Recovery at the Specialised Clinical Psychotrauma Centre (the Netherlands - South).

About Elisa van Ee

Elisa van Ee (Woerden, 1976) studied Developmental Psychology (graduate degree, 2002), Orthopedagogy (graduate degree, 2002), and Law (MA, 2010) at Leiden University. She defended her PhD thesis, entitled A New Generation, How Refugee Trauma Affects Parenting and Child Development at Utrecht University in 2013. In her thesis, she studied the impact of trauma symptoms of refugee parents on the development of their non-traumatised young children.

Van Ee is head trainer at the post-academic training programme for psychotherapists of the Stichting Psychologische vervolgOpleidingen Nijmegen (SPON, Nijmegen Association for Post-graduate Psychology Programmes), run by the Radboud Centre for Social Sciences. The foundation of her work lies in developing new interventions for professionals working with traumatised families. For her research, she received funding among others from the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw), Horizon 2020, and the Raad voor Zorg en Onderzoek Veteranen (Council for Healthcare and Research for Veterans).

Contact information

Questions about this inaugural lecture? Please contact Elisa van Ee via elisa.vanee [at] (elisa[dot]vanee[at]ru[dot]nl). Members of the media may contact Radboud University's science communication team at +31 (0)24 361 6000 or media [at] (media[at]ru[dot]nl).

Organizational unit
Radboud Centre Social Sciences
Behaviour, Health & Healthcare