BOOK: Power to Recover by Dr Liz Royle & Catherine Kerr

Power to Recover
Dr Liz Royle & Catherine Kerr, KRTS International, 2018.

Some jobs are more risky than others. Individuals working in the emergency services, security, heavy industry or health and social care are clearly at greater risk of encountering psychological trauma due to the nature of their occupation. At the same time, though, very few in other, less obviously risky roles are completely immune to difficult or distressing events such as assaults on staff, serious accidents or injuries, robberies, or even the death or suicide of colleagues.

Following any traumatic event, people often suffer unnecessarily. They may not be able to function well, and could even be left permanently damaged by the experience. Even in the digital age, people risk issues are prevalent in any sector of industry… and they’re quite often badly dealt with, if they are dealt with at all. It is a wonder such issues are so often referred to as ‘soft’ when it appears to be so hard for organisations to address them.

The second edition of Power to Recover, published this month, is the book for anyone involved in the management of a traumatic incident at work – be they organisational managers, personnel, mental health or welfare professionals, or business continuity, EAP or health and safety professionals. This guide aims to help the reader to first identify what constitutes a critical incident and then learn how to deal with it.

Lead author Dr Liz Royle has clinical experience of working across the full range of psychological trauma – from responding to traumatic incidents to working therapeutically with PTSD and historical trauma. She is a psychotherapist and EMDR Europe approved consultant. Royle has substantial experience of the strategic management of trauma and proactive interventions for high risk organisations, her professional experience cemented providing psychotherapy and critical incident interventions for the Greater Manchester Police, incorporating Gold Control, firearms, Child Protection, Witness Protection and the Major Armed Control Unit. Co-author Catherine Kerr is a chartered counselling psychologist, a senior accredited BACP integrative psychotherapist and an EMDR Europe approved consultant. Kerr has similar experience of working with high risk organisations and with clients with PTSD. She has a management background with local NHS Primary Care Groups, providing early preventative measures in response to mental health issues.

Both authors use their vast experience of working in the immediate aftermath of a wide range of critical incidents to examine the nature of workplace trauma, the human survival response, the issue of managing the immediate response and how to help groups in the immediate aftermath. They go on to approach the complex area of understanding traumatic stress reactions and to dealing with a death in the workplace.

A chapter dedicated to developing a proactive strategy is also included. Power to Recover also features a series of appendices to help support readers in gathering information for strategic purposes, suggested content for a trauma policy, an information sheet for friends and family, and an example flowchart for a critical incident, among other useful guides and tools.

Throughout the book are a number of useful insights that both address the challenges of managing psychological trauma at work and, at the same time, make the case for putting in place such processes. Among them, advice on dealing with individuals who are perceived to be faking reactions and abusing the system in order to have time off, or for compensation or some other hidden agenda. One of the advantages of a properly considered trauma support process, the authors write, is that it deals with everybody equally: “the genuine receive the help they need and deserve and the ingenuine will find themselves being ‘managed proactively’ under the same system”. An entire chapter is dedicated to showing how this works in practice.

A section dedicated to our ‘inbuilt surveillance system’ examines the two mental processing routes famously described by Nobel prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman as ‘fast thinking’ and ‘slow thinking’. This chapter tackles the issue of how these two processes impact decision-making and response in high risk settings.
The issue of trauma at work is generally easier for high risk organisations to manage than it is for smaller or lower risk businesses but, in either case, emergency procedures, business continuity and health and safety reporting will often kick in, leaving the human aspect either completely ignored or vastly misunderstood. And yet, as the authors of this book write, without healthy employees, most businesses would grind to a halt.

Power to Recover: A complete guide to managing psychological trauma at work has been written to help with the questions about a topic that, despite its ‘soft’ reputation, are still very hard to address.

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