This PhD establishes the concept of Sense of Safety as a theoretically robust whole person approach to distress and wellbeing. It addresses the fundamental generalist task of managing undifferentiated complexity through attending to both biology and biography – of integrating understanding of the impact of life story, relationships, context and meaning on physiological health. Utilising a transdisciplinary generalist methodology this project involved a conceptual transdisciplinary literature review, stakeholder consultation, and international multidisciplinary academic review. PhD findings clarified stakeholder understanding of the meaning of the ordinary English phrase ‘sense of safety’ as an integrative concurrent appraisal. They defined the breadth of content (Whole Person Domains) that contribute to a whole person experience of threat or safety, they named the processes (Sense of Safety Dynamics) that build Sense of Safety, and they described overarching goals (Sense of Safety Goals) that could guide generalist approaches to managing distress and building wellbeing. The resultant strengths-based trauma-informed approach to appraisal of distress offers an embodied relational approach to the whole person that is ready for translation into primary care and beyond.

Key Outcome


A Whole Person Approach to Wellbeing
Building Sense of Safety 

By Johanna Lynch

 Published 20th December 2020 by Routledge

Available Here


Dr Johanna Lynch

Dr Johanna Lynch

Senior Lecturer
General Practice Clinical Unit

Emeritus Professor Mieke Van Driel

Emeritus Professor
General Practice Clinical Unit

Dr Pamela Meredith

Honorary Associate Professor
School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences


Emeritus Professor of Primary Medical Care
Institute of Population Health Sciences
University of Liverpool