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Journal cover: Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research

Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research

ISSN: 1759-6599

Online from: 2009

Subject Area: Health and Social Care

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Dealing with trauma as an intervention for aggression: a review of approaches and the value of reprocessing

Document Information:
Title:Dealing with trauma as an intervention for aggression: a review of approaches and the value of reprocessing
Author(s):Rachel Worthington, (Forensic Psychologist at the School of Psychology, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK and in the Psychology Department, Alpha Hospitals, Bury, UK)
Citation:Rachel Worthington, (2012) "Dealing with trauma as an intervention for aggression: a review of approaches and the value of reprocessing", Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research, Vol. 4 Iss: 2, pp.108 - 118
Keywords:Aggression intervention, EMDR, Injuries, Neurology, Trauma
Article type:Conceptual paper
DOI:10.1108/17596591211208319 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Acknowledgements:The author wishes to express her appreciation to all the staff and clients at Alpha Hospitals, Bury who have assisted and challenged her to consider wider ways of working with complex and difficult issues. Their comments and questions were helpful, but they are in no way responsible for the content, nor do they necessarily agree with it.

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the impact of trauma with specific consideration to the neurological impact this has on information processing and potential links with aggression.

Design/methodology/approach – This paper provides a summary of the literature in relation to theories of aggression and trauma. The paper considers how the two may interact and overlap and considers a theoretical rationale for why addressing trauma through a treatment such as Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) may assist to reduce aggression.

Findings – The paper argues that the experience of trauma may contribute to inputs which may take a person closer towards engaging in aggression. This is consistent with information processing models and unified models of aggression such as the General Aggression Model. Factors that were specifically identified included physiological hyper-arousal, hostile attributions of stimulus, and neurological impairments. In addition, the paper also argued that there is evidence that as a result of trauma, a person's ability to provide cognitive accounts for the function of their behaviour may also be impaired because of the reduced interactivity between the two prefrontal hemispheres.

Research limitations/implications – The paper argues that as a result, interventions designed to reduce aggression may benefit from including additional elements which directly assist clients to process emotional information and that a reprocessing treatment such as EMDR could assist to reduce levels of emotional arousal and improve treatment effectiveness. Differences in the way in which EMDR is carried out and the variances in treatment protocols used should be attended to increase the reliability of future research.

Originality/value – Current modes of aggression therapy have focused on exposure based and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). However, there is evidence that EMDR has benefits over exposure and CBT approaches because of the way in which cognitive verbal accounts of the trauma are not required and because EMDR does not require the individual to have insight into their trauma experience and the link with aggression.

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