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Wednesday, September 8 • 1:30pm - 3:30pm
Intergenerational Trauma and Historical Injustices: Student Wellness through Education, Training and Cultural Strategies for Therapeutic Healing

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The promotion of culturally responsive practices must include the self-of-the-therapist’s experiences and understanding of cultural humility – truly bearing witness - to address historical trauma. How might this be best done through training of practitioners and involving communities who have been traumatized? How to best teach “cultural humility” as related to approaches for healing historical trauma? Best strategies, including cultural healing practices, will be replicated through training and by presenters. Community, school and university contexts will be discussed.

The experience of trauma and loss, sometimes repeated or intergenerational, are often concerns of many cultural communities and families. During the past 2020 year, racial and social inequity with layers of a pandemic, were made all the more apparent. Advances for families, such as the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) screening in California, screens for significant sources of stress. Yet at the same time, ACE does not measure stressors that are critical to address including racism, poverty or multiple forms of community inequity, inhumanity or violence.

Intergenerational trauma and the transmission of family stories and narratives serve to further exasperate or protect personal and familial knowledge. Awareness of how this operates increases awareness towards healing. Events during the past year – specific and generally – speaks to repeated cycles of loss and trauma among communities. Trauma-informed services must be included in evidence-based and promising practices in public child welfare. Training and the use of cultural historical narratives must include best practices.

Therapists in the community including family therapists are in key roles to intervene providing culturally sensitive outreach, competent services and engage in therapeutic healing processes. Sometimes therapists themselves may have experienced loss and be aware of trauma within their own ancestral background. How do these experiences inform them for their additionally attuned clinical work with families? This, among other critical stances of the therapist – will be shown.

There may be times where trauma may be known but fade in the histories of families. Events during the life course may reawaken some losses or echoes of past traumas. This may be even more when the trauma experiences are not fully known or addressed to peaceful resolution. As often a dynamic of perpetuating silence, survivors or witnesses of trauma were often encouraged to resist recovering or retelling their stories of strife, warfare, colonization, and abuse to younger generations as a means of survival. Though the reasons for are likely complex and not fully understood, halting the transmission of painful narratives may have held the intention of paving avenues for younger generations to experience greater success without having to endure or hold onto the traumas of previous generations. But denial and silencing may serve to internalize pain, halt recovery and impede sources of resilience. In 2025, California will have a mandated Ethnic Studies requirement in high schools and community colleges. This will enhance needs to effectively address racial trauma.

Additional Note:

Forgetting history, including those of last year that literally and figuratively took our breathing away - may mean we are destined to repeat it. In the very context in which we live, there are reminders of historical trauma. The past year has shown us the devastating impact of the pandemic of Covid-19 but also racism and social inequality. This is a powerful opportunity to learn in current context past events that should never be forgotten. The presenter has used teaching future therapists, in local contexts, history including traumas in local cultural communities. Re-living some of these histories hearing directly from racial, ethnic, cultural and linguistically diverse children and families is deeply informative as well as essential for transformation. This will be demonstrated during this presentation with voices of diverse community members, consumers and students.

*The presenter may draw upon his recent chapter: “The Psychology of Inequities: The Visibility of Asian Americans Rising Up, Speaking Out” (“Being Seen and Being Heard for Greater Equity”), Publication Pending: Summer 2021.

Some families, such as those living in urban neighborhoods experience an inordinate amount of trauma and losses. Isolated communities in more rural areas are often neglected. Mixed immigration status families encounter loss, trauma and uncertainty. Immigrants, refugees and those displaced face a myriad of transitions that may be types of loss. A good deal of research has focused on the experiences of adolescents in these families, finding correlations between exposure to pervasive trauma and loss, and a multitude of negative outcomes. Family therapists are better equipped to support these families when they understand experiences common to parents as well as children as well self-of-the-therapist reactions. According to parents, pervasive trauma and loss disrupts a sense of individual and family wholeness across generations. When pervasive loss is combined additionally with social oppression or marginalization, parents believe children to be at risk of making despairing meaning from their experiences and abandoning healthy ambitions for their lives. The research suggests that parents respond to the loss – sometimes repeated - in the lives of their children by focusing on reaffirming family wholeness, encouraging their children to release their pain, and generating meaning that sustains hope.

This presentation will help participants enhance clinical work with multicultural communities in multiple ways. First, participants understand how their own experience of loss as exemplified by the presenter informs their clinical work. This includes the past year, 2020. Second, attendees will gain insight into what it is like to work with children and their parents in context through loss and trauma through dynamic narratives first-hand accounts. Third, the self-of-the-therapist in working effectively focusing on culturally diverse families will be discussed. Fourth, the workshop will generate ideas for facilitating therapeutic healing including types of rituals with cultural humility to support families in working through trauma and loss. Fifth, the workshop will offer a framework for facilitating strength-based conversations with parents and children about grief. This framework includes ways of inviting cultural themes of ethnicity, gender, social class, immigration status, sexual orientation and faith into these resilience-identifying and strength-based therapeutic strategies.

By the end of the workshop, participants will be able to:
1) identify systemic sources attempting to minimize inequities during the past year also echoing past traumas;
2) Describe how providers’ learning and understanding via cultural humility of loss and trauma informs their clinical work;
3) List cultural competence training kills and cultural humility stance necessary to work with diverse families impacted by social and health inequities;
4) Describe


Matthew R.

Professor of Counseling Psychology, John F. Kennedy University
Matthew R. Mock, Ph.D. has led dynamic courses, workshops and presentations on the relevance of social justice, community mental health, cultural competence, ethnicity and multiculturalism in psychotherapy locally, throughout California, nationally and internationally. He is currently... Read More →

Wednesday September 8, 2021 1:30pm - 3:30pm PDT