23 Sep 2020

One of our great strengths as a research institute is our multidisciplinary team — clinicians and researchers working together to progress the understanding of major health issues and develop real solutions. As a research officer and clinical psychologist in our Veteran Mental Health Initiative, Dr Sarah Hampton shares her thoughts on this powerful combination.

I wanted a balance between clinical and research work.

During my time in private practice, I worked with veterans, emergency service personnel, and a wide range of adolescents and adults dealing with trauma-related issues and other psychological problems. I love working directly with people, but I also love exploring the latest best practice from a research point of view. A job that combines both these passions is quite rare. When the opportunity to conduct a research project on compassion-based therapy came up at GMRF in 2018, I grabbed it with both hands!

I think there is a misconception that compassion is a load of waffle.

But the research into the science of compassion tells a different story! There is growing understanding of the physiological and psychological benefits of compassion – and GMRF is part of increasing this knowledge. GMRF’s study on Compassionate Mind Training helped veterans with PTSD and their partners learn how to soothe difficult emotions using self-compassion and improve their relationships through the giving and receiving of compassion.

I love seeing research contribute to real outcomes for veterans.

The study findings indicated several important benefits of compassion therapy. In the three months follow up, veterans reported a significant decrease in PTSD symptoms. Veterans and their partners also reported significant decreases in anxiety and stress, steady declines in depression, and significant improvement in quality of life and relationship satisfaction.

I believe research must have real-world application, otherwise why bother?

I am now developing the content for GMRF’s e-learning program on transition from military service. The modules deal with important topics that can be overlooked such as purpose, resentment and regret, and beliefs about civilian life that can hold veterans back from a successful transition. I hope this training provides helpful information and reduces some of the stigma veterans may feel during what can be a very challenging adjustment period from Defence to civilian life.

You can read more about our team and our research updates in the latest edition of our Tribute Newsletter – CLICK HERE