Protecting into emotion: therapeutic enactments with military veterans transitioning back into civilian life

Michael Balfour, Marvin Westwood, Marla J. Buchanan

Over 18.5% of military personnel returning from war zones to civilian life suffer mental health issues, which can lead to family breakdown, homelessness and other problems. Almost 4000 Australian soldiers have returned home from active service in the last decade suffering from combat stress and mental health conditions. A 2009 Australian independent government review warned that a new generation of veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and severe mental health disorders will emerge in the next five years, with as many as one in four likely to need mental health treatment. The Difficult Return: arts-based approaches to mental health literacy and building resilience with recently returned military personnel and their families is a three-year Australian Research Council funded arts project aimed at supporting the mental health and well-being of recently returned veterans in Australia, USA and Canada. The project combines a range of arts-based strategies to help returning veterans, including online digital films to improve awareness and help seeking motivation, a performance project with ex-soldiers and actors, and a process-based group work programme. The paper will focus specifically on the development of the Veterans Transition Programme (VTP) a partnership between Griffith University and the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. The VTP leverages the resilience and resources of veterans, providing help to participants attempting to better understand the impact of military experience on their lives. It draws on a range of psycho-educational and action-based approaches, including life review and drama enactments to engage participants in ways of dealing with disturbing events from their lives. The paper will describe and reflect on a number of the strategies used in the VTP, for example, how the drama enactments help to integrate emotion, cognition and embodied awareness, the significance of contact when working with trauma, and the importance of a therapeutic milieu in constructing ‘units’ of support for the veterans.



Public reaction to direct-to-consumer online genetic tests: Comparing attitudes, trust and intentions across commercial and conventional providers

Christine Critchley, Dianne Nicol, Margaret Otlowski, Don Chalmers

The success of personalised medicine depends upon the public’s embracing genetic tests. Tests that claim to predict an individual’s future health can now be accessed via online companies outside of conventional health regulations. This research assessed the extent to which the public embrace direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic tests relative to those obtained by a conventional medical practitioner (MP). It also examined the reasons for differences across providers using a randomised experimental telephone survey of 1000 Australians. Results suggest that people were significantly less likely to approve of, and order a DTC genetic test administered by a company compared to a MP because they were less trusting of companies’ being able to protect their privacy and provide them with access to genetic expertise and counselling. Markets for DTC genetic tests provided by companies would therefore significantly increase if trust in privacy protection and access to expertise are enhanced through regulation.


Speech acts and performances of scientific citizenship: Examining how scientists talk about therapeutic cloning

Nicola J. Marks

Scientists play an important role in framing public engagement with science. Their language can facilitate or impede particular interactions taking place with particular citizens: scientists’ “speech acts” can “perform” different types of “scientific citizenship”. This paper examines how scientists in Australia talked about therapeutic cloning during interviews and during the 2006 parliamentary debates on stem cell research. Some avoided complex labels, thereby facilitating public examination of this field. Others drew on language that only opens a space for publics to become educated, not to participate in a more meaningful way. Importantly, public utterances made by scientists here contrast with common international utterances: they did not focus on the therapeutic but the research promises of therapeutic cloning. Social scientists need to pay attention to the performative aspects of language in order to promote genuine citizen involvement in techno-science. Speech Act Theory is a useful analytical tool for this.