Humanising Mental Health Care in Australia


Humanising Mental Health Care in Australia

A Guide to Trauma-informed Approaches, 1st Edition

Edited by Richard BenjaminJoan HaliburnSerena King


414 pages | 3 B/W Illus.

Humanising Mental Health Care in Australia is a unique and innovative contribution to the healthcare literature that outlines the trauma-informed approaches necessary to provide a more compassionate model of care for those who suffer with mental illness. The impact of abuse and trauma is frequently overlooked in this population, to the detriment of both individual and society. This work highlights the importance of recognising such a history and responding humanely.

The book explores the trauma-informed perspective across four sections. The first outlines theory, constructs and effects of abuse and trauma. The second section addresses the effects of abuse and trauma on specific populations. The third section outlines a diverse range of individual treatment approaches. The final section takes a broader perspective, examining the importance of culture and training as well as the organisation and delivery of services.

Written in an accessible style by a diverse group of national and international experts, Humanising Mental Health Care in Australia is an invaluable resource for mental health clinicians, the community managed and primary health sectors, policy makers and researchers, and will be a helpful reference for people who have experienced trauma and those who care for them.


The learning from this book will also enable others to develop a greater understanding of the appropriate approach to the treatment of people suffering complex trauma.

The Honourable Peter McClellan, AM, QC, Chair, Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Every mental health clinician and health policy maker and administrator in the country should read Humanising Mental Health Care in Australia. Set out in four sections, it is an easy to read, informative and important text about the impact of trauma on mental health, and why it is important to recognise it and respond appropriately, at both an individual level and a systems level. No matter what your background, if you are interested in how to improve the delivery of compassionate mental health care, I guarantee you will find true ‘pearls of wisdom’ in this book.

Dr Peggy Brown, AO, Former Chief Executive Officer, National Mental Health Commission

The title of this book, Humanising Mental Health Care In Australia, embraces a deep and overdue imperative in mental health care, not only in Australia but around the world. The paradox of surging momentum of awareness of mental illness contrasting with the increasingly poor quality of mental health care underlines the urgent need for reform and a more sophisticated approach. We have lurched from a brainless to a mindless psychiatry when we need a much more sophisticated blend, which transcends the old false dichotomies. The centrality and potency of trauma in creating and embedding mental illness is reflected in this high quality monograph which captures a wide range of Australian expertise in a balanced yet passionate way. Other biological, psychological and social dimensions are also crucial if we are to humanise mental health care, however trauma is the most likely one to be suppressed or denied, so affirmative action is required. This book supports such affirmative action. Courage, scholarship and skill are essential if the mission to humanise mental health care is to succeed. This book is an essential resource in this mission.

Professor Patrick McGorry, AO, Executive Director, Orygen

About the Editors

Dr Richard Benjamin is a public sector psychiatrist and psychotherapist. He is particularly interested in the long-term effects of child abuse, their manifestations in adults presenting with mental illness, and the benefits of incorporating an understanding of both trauma and relationship in therapeutic responses.

Dr Joan Haliburn is a child, adolescent and family psychiatrist and psychotherapist. She is also a Lecturer at the University of Sydney, Australia. She is the former President and Director of Training of the Australian and New Zealand Association of Psychotherapy (ANZAP) and a member of the board of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD).

Serena King is a clinical psychologist. She has worked extensively in community mental health and the tertiary education sector. She has held senior roles as a clinician, manager, supervisor and training provider. She has a particular interest in trauma-informed and relational treatments when working with clients with complex mental health issues. She facilitates multidisciplinary training in trauma-informed and psychotherapeutic approaches.

Order your copy at

Customer Services & Orders

For Print Orders

In North, Central & South America:
1-800-634-7064 (toll-free)

In Australia and New Zealand:
+61 2 8778 9999

In the United Kingdom/Rest of World:
+44 (0) 1235 400524


For Electronic Orders

In North, Central & South America:
   1-800-354-1420 (toll-free)
   215-625-8900 (ext. 4)

In the United Kingdom/Rest of World:
  +44 (0) 0207 01 77720