The ‘COllaborative Network for Training and EXcellence in psychoTraumatology’ (CONTEXT) leverages expertise from both the academic and non-academic sectors to devise a new and cutting-edge modality of training for a new generation of psychotraumatologists, and to produce innovative solutions for mental health as an important societal challenge.

Principal Investigator
Dr. Frédérique Vallières (School of Psychology & Trinity Centre for Global Health)

European Commission (Horizon 2020’s Marie SkÅ‚odowska-Curie Grant Agreement No. 722523)

Ulster University, University of Southern Denmark, Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, Spirasi, Police Service of Northern Ireland, Probation Board of Northern Ireland, the Danish Children’s Centres, and the Psychosocial Reference Centre for the International Federation of the Red Cross, Red Crescent Societies

The problem that was addressed…
Exposure to one or more traumatic life event(s) significantly increases the risk for all forms of mental illness, each with significant annual economic costs to Europe. These include disorders of mood- (€113.4 billion), anxiety- (€74.4 billion), psychosis- (€93.9 billion), sleep (€35.4 billion), personality (€27.3 billion), and substance abuse (€65.7 billion), as well as suicide. Traumatic exposure is also associated with reduced quality of life, functional impairment, increased disability, reduced productivity, increased sick leave and work termination, marital conflict, increased health care spending, and increased use of social services. Trauma exposure is therefore a key contributor to the EU’s overall burden of mental health, which afflicts more than one-third of the EU’s population each year, with women disproportionately affected. An important step in addressing this issue is the creation of researchers and practitioners who can translate research into practice, thereby mitigating the impact of psychotrauma in the EU.

The ‘Collaborative Network for Training and Excellence in psychoTraumatology’ (CONTEXT) leverages expertise from both the academic and non-academic sectors to devise a new and cutting-edge modality of training for a new generation of psychotraumatologists and to produce innovative solutions for mental health as an important societal challenge.

What we did…
We brought together nine partners in the formation of a diverse, interdisciplinary, and international consortium to develop a high-quality, innovative training programme that builds expertise, and fosters innovative practice in the area of psychotraumatology ( Together, the nine partners are currently training twelve early-stage researchers whose research spans three trauma-exposed groups:  (i) EU-based asylum seekers and refugees; (ii) emergency-service personnel and humanitarian first-responders; and (iii) victims and perpetrators of childhood- and gender-based violence. This research is currently taking place across Ireland, Northern Ireland, Denmark, Sudan and Columbia. A key feature of the twelve individual research projects is that the doctoral fellows are required to spend a minimum of 50% of their time outside of the academic sector gaining ‘hands-on’ experience within the organisations that care for each of these trauma-exposed populations.

Shevlin M, McElroy E, Murphy J. Loneliness mediates the relationship between childhood trauma and adult psychopathology: evidence from the adult psychiatric morbidity survey. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2015; 50: 591-601.

Olesen J, Gustavsson A, Svensson M, Wittchen HU, Jönsson, B. The economic cost of brain disorders in Europe. Eur J Neurol. 2011; 19: 155-162.

Bisson, J. Post-traumatic stress disorder. Occup Med. 2007; 57: 399-403.

WHO Europe. (2015). Data and statistics: Prevalence of mental disorders. Available at

kick off meeting











CONTEXT Kick off Meetings held in Trinity College Dublin Long Room. Back row - from L to R –Martha Bird (Danish Red Cross); Prof. Jamie Murphy (Ulster University); Rikke Holm Bramsen (SDU); Dr. Philip Hyland (Maynooth University); Rory Halpin (Spirasi); Maj Hansen (SDU); Prof. Mark Shevlin (Ulster University), Dr. Gerladine O’Hare (PBNI), Dr. Ruth Ceannt (TCD). Front row, from L to R - Leonie O’Dowd (Dublin Rape Crisis Centre), Shirley Scott (Dublin Rape Crisis Centre), Pernille Spitz (Danish Childrens Centres), Noeline Blackwell (Dublin Rape Crisis Centre), Dr. Frédérique Vallières (TCD – CONTEXT PI), Prof. Mac MacLachlan (now Maynooth University), Prof. Cherie Armour (Queen’s University), Angela McCarthy (Dublin Rape Crisis Centre).

induction week

CONTEXT Induction Week held in the Centre for Global Health, Trinity College Dublin from L to R – Professor Jamie Murphy (Ulster University); Kinan Aldamman (TCD/Sudanese Red Crescent); Dr. Philip Hyland (Maynooth); Ida Haahr-Pedersen (TCD/Danish Children’s Homes); Maria Louison Vang (Ulster University/Danish Children’s Homes); Catherine Walshe (Ulster University/Dublin Rape Crisis Centre); Dr. Frédérique Vallières (TCD); Larissa Sherwood (TCD/PSNI); Professor Mac MacLachlan (now Maynooth); Áine Travers (SDU/PBNI), Tracey McDonagh (SDU/PBNI), Trina Tamrakar (SDU/PSNI), Camila Perera (TCD/Columbian Red Cross); Christina Gleeson (Ulster University/Spirasi); Rachel Frost (Ulster University/Dublin Rape Crisis Centre) and Natalie Flanagan (SDU/Spirasi).



To date, the 12 early state researchers have produced in excess if 100 research outputs including several peer-reviewed research article publications, oral presentations, poster presentations and video content. ESRs have also been engaged in extensive dissemination activities, regarding their research, at their respective academic and non-academic organisations.

The recruited researchers have also participated in a total of three network-wide training programmes providing them with cutting-edge training in psychotraumatology research, a host of distinct qualitative and quantitative research methods, and techniques for disseminating and communicating their research findings to distinct audiences. All recruited researchers have had the opportunity to attend multiple international conferences in psychotraumatology including the 2017 and 2019 European Society for Traumatic Stress Studies conference in Odense, Demark and Rotterdam, the Netherlands, respectively, and the 2018 UK Posttraumatic Stress Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland. Moreover, through collaboration with the likes of the Trinity International Development Initiative, and through CONTEXT’s participation in European Researcher’s Night, the recruited researchers have had the opportunity to communicate their research to members of the general public. Furthermore, a large number of the recruited researchers have begun to successfully publish their research findings in international, peer-reviewed, and high-impact journals in the field of psychotraumatology.