GALA funds research collaboration between QUT and Bath Spa University promoting resilience and integration in refugee women with HIV

Posted on March 6, 2018

Dr. Agata Vitale, Senior Lecturer in Abnormal Psychology at BSU, has been granted GALA funding to conduct a research on Assessing the effectiveness of the Tree of Life (ToL) intervention in promoting resilience and integration in refugee women with HIV; this study is done in collaboration with Professor Nigar Khawaja (Department of Psychology, Queensland Institute of Technology, Australia). The Tree of Life (ToL) is a group-based narrative intervention that aims to promote mental health, resilience and a sense of connectedness in individuals who share similar traumatic experiences. The ToL adopts the tree as a metaphor of an individual’s life, including the past (the roots), the present (the trunk), and the hopes for the future (the branches). The intervention consists of seven group sessions, in which participants are asked to discuss ‘their tree’ with the support of ‘creative tools’, such as painting, photography, story-telling and journal writing. For this study, participants will be individually interviewed before and after the intervention on their experience being HIV positive, as well as their benefits of taking part in ToL. The fieldwork will be carried by Dr. Agata Vitale and Dr. Judy Ryde (she a visiting research fellow at BSU and the director of the Trauma Foundation South West, a charity organization providing support to refugees with have been exposed to multiple levels of trauma).   This is a unique study since there is no existing literature on how the ToL can support refugee women with HIV. Furthermore, most of the ToL studies have been carried out outside the UK, and little is known about how this intervention can provide support to refugees in our country. In addition, this study has a strong international component since, on completion, the findings will be compared with the ones of a parallel study that NK will carry out with colleagues from the Department of Clinical Psychology at QUT.