CPD: Interacting
with clients
and community
after trauma

Image courtesy of Australian Red Cross | Photographer: Mathew Lynn

Free CPD: Interacting with clients and community after trauma

These sessions are part of our response to the unprecedented bush fires of 2019/2020. They are also applicable to other situations, disasters or extreme events causing trauma.

They form a set with the Building Back Better seminar which addresses interpersonal communication and process management between architect and client after a traumatic event. It also explores how disasters disrupt many aspects of community life, warping individual perspectives and collective needs.

Themes covered are:

  • The effects of trauma on the mind
  • Characteristics of continuing stress
  • How to recognise and interact with someone in a state of high arousal
  • How architects may best help communities recover after disasters and how it differs from normal circumstances
  • Personal qualities required to help communities recover.

Session one: Designing to Heal

Presenter: Rob Gordon

1 Formal CPD Point

Learning outcomes

  • Identify and explain the importance of strong interpersonal communication and process management between architect and client
  • Outline stages of trauma recovery; how to identify these and deal accordingly
  • Identify and explain triggers to be aware of when interacting with clients who have suffered trauma
  • Describe tips for managing the process to get the best outcomes for everyone.

Session two: Stress Recovery for People Involved in Emergencies

Presenter: Jenny Donovan

1 Formal CPD Point

Learning outcomes

  • Identify and explain ways Architects can help communities recover after a disaster
  • List personal qualities which will assist in helping communities after trauma
  • Demonstrate an awareness of the trauma communities experience after disasters.

AACA Units of Competency: Design and Practice Management

  • Design: Project Briefing; 1.4 Identification of factors that may impact on client project requirements and objectives
  • Practice Management; 9.8 Clear and consistent communication with client and relevant stakeholders throughout the project.


Rob Gordon PhD is a clinical psychologist who conducts a private psychotherapy practice in Box Hill Victoria. He has specialism in treatment of trauma and recovery of communities from disasters. He commenced disaster work in 1983 in the Ash Wednesday Bush-fires and has observed many communities in many different types of natural and human caused events, ranging from bush-fires, floods, cyclones, earthquakes, the Queen Street and Pt Arthur Shootings, The Bali bombing, East Asia Tsunami, Christchurch Earthquake. He has researched the psychological effects of the stresses that follow personal and community trauma and their effects on communication and decision making.

Jenny Donovan is the principal of Melbourne urban design practice Inclusive Design, Sessional international expert in placemaking for UN Habitat and sessional lecturer at La Trobe University. Her work focuses on creating places that facilitate people to meet their needs, thrive and fulfil their potential. Her work spans urban and landscape design and neighbourhood renewal in Australia, the UK and Ireland and post conflict and post disaster reconstruction in Montenegro, Palestine, Ireland, Ethiopia, Kosovo and Sri Lanka.