Visiting Canadian psychologist Dr Marvin Westwood will present a public lecture at the launch of the Australian Research Council Discovery Project — The Difficult Return — at Griffith University on Friday, April 15.

The Difficult Return is a three-year ARC study exploring arts-based approaches to mental health literacy and building resilience with recently returned military personnel and their families.

Dr Westwood will discuss the Veterans Transition Program, a group-based intervention in Canada that has supported soldiers in their transitioning to civilian life for the past 14 years.

He says the program leverages the resilience and resources of the soldiers and helps them better understand the impact of their military experiences.

“It gives them the opportunity to engage in an action-based way of dealing with disturbing events from their lives.

“It also provides an opportunity for spouses to understand the transition process.”

Griffith University Chair in Applied Theatre Professor Michael Balfour says almost 4000 Australian soldiers have returned home from active service in the past decade suffering from combat stress and mental health conditions.

“The project will be the first international project of its kind to use arts-based methods to break down the stigma of mental health issues in the military,” he said.

The first stage of the research will develop digital stories and short films for, by and with recently returned veterans and their partners in Australia and the US.

The second stage of the project will develop arts-based theatre projects with veterans and their families focussing on the issues and strategies of dealing with the difficult return home.

Dr Westwood is a professor in the University of British Columbia Counselling Program and Associate Member of UBC’s Faculty of Medicine.

His teaching and research focus is on group counselling and psychotherapy, trauma repair and therapeutic applications of the guide autobiographical life review method to the counselling process.

WHAT: The Difficult Return — Australian Research Council launch

WHERE: Building M10, Rm: 5.01. Griffith University Mt Gravatt campus

WHEN: 10am-12pm

MEDIA CONTACT: Deborah Marshall 0408 727 734.