Professionals' lived experience with trauma and mental distress: hidden treasure?

Simona Karbouniaris




Assigned to session

0.10 Mies Bouwman, 29-09-2023, 15:10 - 16:25


Police, military & emergency services, health care personnel
(Sub)clinical interventions or treatment (innovations)


Modern mental healthcare is confronted with challenges to professionally harness lived experiences with trauma and distress from mental health professionals. The integration is particularly hindered due to the undervaluation of experiential knowledge in the professional domain and the ongoing presence of negatively internalised messages that withhold professionals’ disclosures. In the current PhD research I looked at the value and perceived impact of professionals’ lived experience within 3 mental health organisations. In addition to a literature review, I followed nurses, social workers and psychiatrists who were familiar with personal lived experience with mental distress and trauma. While harnessing experiential knowledge is still sparse and organisations struggle to meaningfully incorporate the lived experience perspective in practice, the available qualitative data indicate positive outcomes for those who succeed in this integration. Based on our research, the value of experiential knowledge is captured in relational ethics, practical and emotional insights, existential transformation, and emancipatory politics. In conclusion, the experiential knowledge of professionals has an empathising, normalising, humanising, demystifying, destigmatising and empowering impact on mental health services.


Simona Karbouniaris