A Case Study on Intergenerational Trauma

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In this powerful narrative-driven case study ...

Dafna shares how curiosity and listening help her connect to a parent and his child, redirecting them from the path of intergenerational trauma they were traveling. She shows how intuitive questions and empathy facilitate the honesty that’s required to confront, process, and address the trauma some parents carrying unwittingly into their relationships with their children.

Integrating parents into the therapeutic process

"One of the most important decisions a therapist makes is how broadly to define the problem that clients bring into treatment. In an individualistic culture such as ours, it’s common to focus narrowly on whomever is exhibiting problem behavior, without understanding the wider family context that’s shaping the issues that are the immediate source of concern. Often the key to working effectively with a family is expanding the therapeutic perspective to include the history of intergenerational trauma that underlies the present day issues, even though that’s not the family’s view of the origins of the presenting problem.

It’s not easy to introduce this perspective to parents. When parents bring their child for therapy, they don’t expect or want to be as much the focus of work as their child. That is why one of the first items I tell parents when introducing [them to] therapy, is that I work from an attachment perspective and will be working as much or sometimes more with them. I will be asking them to look into their own childhood history and how it may be contributing to the situation. Because of the confidence I have in this approach, most parents are willing to give attachment centered family therapy a try. Then the real work begins."

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