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Erik De Soir

Major Dr Erik de Soir, PhD, Research Manager Human Factors and Medicine at the Department of Scientific and Technological Research, Royal Higher Institute of Defence, Brussels, Belgium. Associate professor in Psychotraumatology and Crisis Psychology.

Military Career:

Major Erik De Soir graduated from the Royal Military Academy in 1988 with a Master’s Degree in Social & Military Sciences. After fulfilling the Infantry School, he was assigned to the Liberation Battalion of the 1st Mechanised Brigade as a platoon commander.

In September 1991, he was called back at the Department of Behavioural Sciences of the Royal Military Academy, Chair of Psychology, to teach the courses of general and social psychology. In 1997 he fulfilled several military courses (e.g. the Course for Staff Techniques & the Company Commander's Course) before completing his military training with the Candidate Senior Officer Course at the Royal Higher Institute for Defence in Brussels. In 2009, he was assigned as Commander of the Psychosocial Support Section to the Well-being Department of the Belgian Defence. He is currently the Domain Manager Human Factors & Medicine Research at the Department of Scientific and Technological Research of Defence at the Royal Higher Institute for Defence.

Academic Training:

Erik De Soir has a Postgraduate Degree in Disaster Management & Disaster Medicine (Catholic University of Leuven, 1991), a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology (Catholic University of Leuven, 1995), a Postgraduate Psychotherapy Training in Systemic Marital, Family & Sex Therapy (Catholic University of Leuven, 1998), a Postgraduate Psychotherapy Training in Hypnotherapy (Scientific Flemish Hypnotherapy Association) and extensive training in psychotrauma therapy & counselling (creative arts therapy, EMDR, sensorimotor trauma therapy, cognitive therapy). He is currently working on a PhD on 'peri-traumatic reactions and post-trauma memories' under the supervision of Prof. Dr Rolf Kleber (Utrecht University, the Netherlands), Prof. Dr em. Onno Van der Hart (Utrecht University, the Netherlands) and Prof. Dr em. Jacques Mylle (Royal Military Academy).


Erik De Soir created the first Belgian Model for Psychosocial Support of Peacekeeping Operations (for soldiers and their significant others) and elaborated basic principles for Traumatic Stress Management in the military and rescue services. As a crisis psychologist, he regularly participated in peace support operations in Somalia, Croatia and Bosnia, to study the different problems of deployed soldiers and their significant others.

Erik provided lectures and workshops on crisis management, crisis communication and psychotraumatology all over the world and is currently one of the leading experts in fire and rescue psychology.

He is also both a certified firefighter and a paramedic and serves as a volunteer fire psychologist in the Regional Fire & Ambulance Brigade of Leopoldsburg. He created a European-wide counselling and support network for the management of traumatic stress in fire brigades, emergency medical services and emergency departments of hospitals, currently known under the name of the Fire Stress Teams (FiST). In 2003, he created the European Association of Fire and Rescue Psychologists – Association européenne des psychologues sapeurs-pompiers (AEPSP).

Erik De Soir is one of the founding members of the Belgian Society for Psychotraumatology (Société belge de psychotraumatologie) and the Revue Francophone du Stress et du Trauma. Between 2001 and 2010, he has been the vice-president of the Association de langue française pour l’étude du stress et du traumatisme and he co-chaired the International Structure & Affiliations Committee within the ISTSS (International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies).

He is the author of numerous books, book chapters and trauma leaflets, translated in several languages.