'Navigating post-traumatic growth in female survivors of childhood sexual abuse: a South African strengths-based intervention' with Dr Hayley Walker-Williams & Prof Ansie Fouché

Past Event

02 June 2016, 3:00pm - 4:30pm

Wolsey Hall
66 Banbury Road Oxford OX2 6PR

This seminar is organised by the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing


  • Dr Hayley Walker-Williams, Subject head: Psychology Department, Clinical Psychologist / Senior Lecturer
  • Professor Ansie Fouché, Associate Professor: Social Work, School of Behavioural Sciences, Vaal Triangle Campus, North-West University, South Africa


In South Africa there is a growing awareness of the need to address the shortage of therapeutic interventions to vulnerable communities and specifically female survivors of childhood sexual abuse. To date, most interventions are traditionally pathogenically orientated and little attention is given to the fact that strengths and resources may indeed be borne from the struggle to cope with the aftermath of trauma. This represents posttraumatic growth or positive psychological change experienced as a result of the struggle with highly challenging life crises. Posttraumatic growth is an outcome resulting from a very specific coping process aimed at restructuring a coherent post trauma life narrative; it has a quality of transformation or a qualitative change in functioning and includes a future perspective.

A newly developed promising practice, a strengths-based group intervention programme entitled “S2T” – from survivor to thriver (S2T) aims at navigating such posttraumatic growth in the treatment of female survivors of childhood sexual abuse. The S2T advocates a balanced approach and draws on an eclectic mix of traditional pathogenic and salutogenic theories. It aims at re-authoring trauma narratives in a safe healing group context, where there is reflection on individual strengths and capacities borne from the struggle to cope with childhood trauma. Such strengths-based interventions should be advocated through community engagement and policy development.

About the speakers

Dr Hayley Walker-Williams is a practicing Clinical Psychologist since 2000. She was appointed as a senior lecturer in 2001 and serves as Subject Head in the Psychology Department of the North-West University, Vanderbijlpark Campus, South Africa. Hayley is a researcher in the sub-programme “Pathways to Resilience and Post-Traumatic Growth” within the Optentia Research Programme. Her research interests include: strength-based interventions and enabling posttraumatic growth in survivors of childhood sexual abuse. She heads a research project entitled “Survivor to Thriver” (S2T) aimed at promoting resilience and facilitating posttraumatic growth in women who experienced childhood sexual abuse in South Africa.