Mark Layson

Proposed Title

The lived experience of loyalty and betrayal: Implications for multidisciplinary responses to Moral Injury in emergency workers


I am a former Police Officer and Firefighter, currently serving as a chaplain with NSW Ambulance.  From this experience I recognise Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a growing and pernicious threat to the wellbeing of emergency workers. Recently, some have started to question if the current paradigm for understanding and treating PTSD is wide enough. Currently, the focus for treatment of PTSD is on cognitive re-framing of trauma/s through psychological counselling and/or medical interventions.  Less attention is being paid to the larger relational and moral matrix in which trauma occurs especially from a theological and philosophical perspective. Exploring these aspects has been given impetus by the arrival of the “Moral Injury” (MI) framework.

MI results from the betrayal of what is right, by someone in legitimate authority, in a high stakes situation (Shay, 2003).  My multidisciplinary research will examine theological and philosophical personal narratives of betrayal, and how it is assuaged.  This research will be assessed and supplemented by psychological treatments into the lived experience of emergency workers.  This research will be applied for chaplains, pastors, psychologists etc. in the prevention and treatment of PTSD and MI in emergency workers.

Why I chose Charles Sturt

Many years ago I studied policing through Charles Sturt and have recently been undertaking a Grad Dip of Psychology there as well.  My supervisor from undergraduate and Masters research projects, Andrew Cameron, is now Director of St Mark’s Theological College and Associate Prof at Charles Sturt.  His interest in the subject, my history with Charles Sturt and the intimate connection between Charles Sturt and Paramedics and Police Officers made it a great fit for this research and any future research that arises.

Engagement and Memberships

  • Member of The Australasian Society for Traumatic Stress Studies
  • Chaplain NSW Ambulance
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