Laura Fischer

Thesis Title:

The embodied experience of childhood trauma and its role in survivors’ relationships with themselves and others: a survivor-led qualitative study


A third of children and young people in the UK experience trauma and more than half globally. Childhood trauma is an important issue: not only is it very common but its impact on survivors’ mental health and physical health is complex and severe.

Childhood trauma changes the mind, the brain, and the body. Traumatic memories are embodied, held in the form of unprocessed emotions and sensations that impact survivors’ relationships with themselves and others, and make it very difficult to live life.

Mainstream therapies are not well adapted to childhood trauma and they are not helping survivors as much as they should. Specifically, they are limited when it comes to the embodied aspects of trauma. Therefore, survivors are calling for trauma-informed care and different approaches to healing.

New interventions focused on the embodied experience of trauma are now beginning to appear. It is clear that these need to be developed further as they have the potential to benefit a large number of people. To do this, it is important that we understand how survivors experience trauma in the body, how this affects their relationships with themselves and others, and what supports their healing.

This is what this survivor-led research project aims to do. First, it will review what is already known about the embodied experience of trauma and its impact on survivors. Then, it will collect new insights from adult survivors of childhood trauma taking part in a trauma-focused movement-based group intervention.

Social Media:

First Supervisor:

Dr Sian Oram


Pathway 2: Life Course, Psychology & Health




Fischer & Kneebone (forthcoming). ‘Embodying mental health: making arts intrinsic to training and practice.’

Perez et al. (forthcoming). ‘Prioritising mental health interventions for implementation in England: a mixed methods approach.’

Dykxhoorn, Fischer, et al. (2022). ‘Development of a conceptual framework for public mental health,’ BMC Public Health.

Chevous, Fischer, Perôt, Sweeney (2020). ‘Safe, Seen, Supported: How to reach and help children and young people experienc- ing abuse in their household’, VAMHN.

Duncan et al. On behalf of the NIHR SPHR Public Mental Health Programme. (2020). ‘Delivery of community centred public mental health interventions in diverse areas in England: a mapping study protocol’, BMJ Open.

Fischer, L. (2019). ‘Trauma-Focused Movement Language’, The Lancet Psychiatry, 6(12), pp.991-993.

Fischer, L. (2019). ‘Violence and Trauma: A societal reality we are all responsible for’, in Perriman, B. Doorways. London: House

Sparrow Press, pp.96-103.

Matthews, Green, Myron, French, Barber, Dionne, Sandra, Fischer (2019). ‘Connections: the power of learning together to improve healthcare in the UK,’ Organizational Behaviour in Healthcare. London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp.129-167.