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SC2001 Childhood Trauma, Consequences and Essential Responses

Ended 15 Mar 2021

Sorry! The enrolment period is currently closed. Please check back soon.

Full course description

Course Overview

In this course participants will gain an understanding of how children’s early years experiences and the nature and quality of their attachment to their primary carer can impact their ability to feel safe in the world, to regulate their emotions, to trust other people, to learn, experience good physical and mental health, enjoy positive, reciprocal relationships and behave in prosocial ways.

This course will be of interest to trauma survivors, parents, midwives, early years professionals, teachers, SNAs, GPs, mental health professionals, Social Workers, addiction counsellors, criminal justice agency staff, policy-makers, lawyers, judges, and staff in community-based organisations – and everyone in between. Participants will learn that many health, relationship and behavioural problems stem from attachment wounds, childhood trauma and the resulting absence of a felt sense of safety in the presence of others. By understanding neurodevelopment and the need for safety, we can learn to engage with trauma survivors with greater patience, compassion and kindness for improved individual and social outcomes.

The course weaves together findings from epidemiology with attachment theory, medical sociology, neurophysiology, trauma theory, the social determinants of health and criminology, establishing that we need a truly biopsychosocial understanding of human development to inform policy, practice and community development.

Participants on this short course will learn about:

  • Human brain development
  • Attachment
  • The importance of a felt sense of safety for flourishing
  • Toxic stress
  • Adverse Childhood Experiences
  • Adverse Community Environments and inequity
  • Historical, racial and cultural trauma
  • The ecological context of child development
  • Resilience, relational health and beneficial childhood experiences
  • The physical and mental health impacts of trauma
  • Manifestations of trauma in the classroom
  • The link between trauma, addiction and criminality
  • Working more effectively and humanely with trauma survivors
  • Signs of vicarious trauma, secondary traumatic stress, compassion fatigue and burnout
  • The role of the community in preventing and healing trauma (“relational rupture requires relational repair” (Karen Treisman)

Course Schedule 

Classes will be delivered online on Mondays 7-9pm for eight weeks from 25 January to 15 March

Week 1: An introduction to interpersonal neurobiology: attachment, the science of safety and “good enough parenting” (Donald Winnicott)

Week 2: The Pair of ACEs: Adverse Childhood Experiences and Adverse Community Environments

Week 3: Resilience and Beneficial Childhood Experiences

Week 4: Understanding trauma as an embodied experience: exploring health impacts

Week 5: “State-dependent functioning” (Bruce Perry): trauma in the classroom

Week 6: ACEs, trauma and behaviour: a spotlight on addiction and criminality

Week 7: Working with trauma survivors in a neurodevelopmentally-aware, trauma-responsive way

Week 8: The role of community in preventing and healing trauma

Course Lecturer

The course will be delivered by Dr Jane Mulcahy BCLG, LLM, PhD. Jane is a part-time Lecturer on the Social Work programme at UCC on the “Deviance, Welfare and Justice” course. She recently successfully defended her PhD thesis in Law at University College Cork in Ireland on the topic of “Connected Corrections and Corrected Connections: Post-release Supervision of Long Sentence Male Prisoners”. Her research was co-funded by the Irish Research Council and the Probation Service under the employment based PhD scheme. Jane has worked as a researcher in the area of criminal justice, penal policy and social justice since 2005. She hosts a podcast called “Law and Justice” since September 2017. Jane was awarded a Justice Media Award in the best local radio show/podcast category by the Law Society of Ireland for her three-part documentary series “Humanising Human Rights” on Ireland’s second periodic review under the UN Convention Against Torture in Geneva in 2017. During lockdown, Jane began recording a special YouTube series of Law and Justice called “How to talk policy and influence people” with many interviewees addressing the subject of attachment, the harmful impact of childhood adversity and interpersonal trauma on individuals and society and the importance of cultivating safety and relational health.

Entry Requirements

Applicants must be at least 18 years old at course commencement.


Short courses are not assessed. Students will receive a UCC Certificate of Attendance upon completion.

Closing Date for Application

Monday 18 January

Contact Details for Further Information

Regina Sexton, Phone: 021-4904700, Email: