Delineating Trauma Mechanisms and Interventions: How Psychological Trauma Difficulties Develop and how they can be Treated Effectively

  • John-Paul Corrigan

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This research first sought to explore the effectiveness of phase-oriented treatments for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms. Through conducting a systematic search of the literature and identifying suitable papers, which met pre-defined criteria, a meta-analysis was conducted to examine the effect size of phase-oriented treatment models. Findings indicated a large effect size in the reduction of PTSD symptoms, which was maintained when compared to control groups and when a complex sub-group was isolated. The findings lend evidence to the efficacy of this treatment approach in working clinically with people with PTSD. In the second piece of research, the study utilised an experimental design which sought to examine how peri-traumatic processing, namely data-driven processing, was both influenced by trait predictors as well as its impact on cognitive functions, specifically free recall and attentional bias. This was delivered through an immersive Virtual Reality video. Results suggested that data-driven processing during a trauma is predicted by trait dissociation.Converse to findings in the literature, an increase in data-driven processing predicted better free recall. However, the data driven processing style along with a reduction in the ability to recall the temporal order of the event predicted attentional bias to threat images, supporting cognitive models of PTSD.  A generalised attentional bias towards threat was also found,indicating associative networks in PTSD. Overall, these findings support the clinical models utilised in PTSD conceptualisation.

Date of AwardMay 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorDonncha Hanna (Supervisor) & Kevin Dyer (Supervisor)

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