Health and disease

Major conference to create awareness about trauma in Denmark

Researchers from Aarhus University have organised a major conference that focuses on creating incentives for new trauma research and treatment approaches. The goal of the conference, which takes place from 27 to 29 March in the Tivoli Congress Center in Copenhagen, is to foster more awareness about how we are treating trauma patients in Denmark.

[Translate to English:] I Danmark har komplekse traumer ikke fyldt så meget i sundhedssystemet, som det har andre steder i Norden – og det har en række danske forskere nu sat sig for at gøre noget ved.

A lot of major events took place over the course of the twentieth century; great wars and catastrophes that caused bloodshed and trauma among the victims as well as their families. But the fact is that before World War 2 there was no real understanding of the consequences of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and the diagnosis was not acknowledged until 1980.


Since then, researchers all over the world have been working hard to acquire in-depth knowledge about the condition and develop new and more effective treatment approaches. In Denmark, however, the healthcare system has not been nearly as focused on traumatisation and complex trauma as the other Nordic countries. But now a group of Danish and Nordic researchers have decided to take action by organising the 2014 European Society for Trauma and Dissociation conference.


The organisers hope that the conference will create further incentives for new research and developments within the field, especially in Denmark. 


Forward-looking work

The 2014 ESTD conference, which takes place in Copenhagen, bears the title “Trauma, Dissociation and Attachment in the 21st Century: Where Are We Heading?”.


“Our conference is meant to foster discussions about how to approach trauma in the future, especially in light of what we have learned about the condition so far,” explains Helle Spindler, who is associate professor at the Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences at Aarhus University and co-organiser of the ESTD conference. 


The chief patron for the conference is the former prime minister of Denmark, Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, who lost his own daughter to suicide in 1993 and has been sincerely committed to the cause ever since. Poul Nyrup Rasmussen is chairman of the Social Network, an organisation that works to better the lives of the mentally vulnerable.


At the conference, the contributions will be focused on taking stock of the most recent developments and present research, treatment approaches and case studies that try to answer the main question “Where are we heading?” The symposiums and workshops are chaired by researchers as well as clinical practitioners, and the conference therefore speaks to both the research community and treatment professionals. Danish psychologist Susan Hart, who specialises in child psychology and psychotherapy, is one of the six plenary speakers.


The conference offers presentations on various topics: the significance of attachment patterns on the development of trauma reactions, interventions to help traumatised children and adults, helping PTSD patients find the will to heal and live, the effect of hypnosis on patients, group therapy for sexually abused adolescents and their parents, and so on. 


“When we began organising this conference, we found it to be very important to take a broad view and focus on both theory and applicability, to present diverse research approaches and clinical cases. We need this broad perspective if we want to find better ways of helping those who are suffering deal with trauma and get better at preventing the development of disturbed attachment patterns. Societal problems and psychological problems feed on each other, and our field can help to reduce the vicious cycle that causes so much sorrow for so many people,” explains Helle Spindler and proceeds: “It is very important that we increase the awareness of trauma among those working in the healthcare and psychiatry sector - and this is precisely what we are hoping to achieve with this conference.”



  • The European Society for Trauma and Dissociation conference is held every two or three years.
  • The 2014 ESTD conference ”Trauma, Dissociation and Attachment in the 21st Century: Where Are We Heading?” takes place from 27 to 29 March in the Tivoli Congress Center in Copenhagen.
  • The chief patron for this year’s conference in Copenhagen is the former prime minister of Denmark, Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, who is the initiator behind the Social Network and Psykiskså, an association that works to better the lives of the mentally vulnerable in Denmark.
  • 485 researchers and clinicians will attend the conference, either as speakers or members of the audience.


Contact information

Helle Spindler

Associate Professor, Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences, Aarhus University


Tel.: +45 20 37 19 40 / +45 87 16 58 29


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