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Transgenerational Trauma & Resilience in Post-Katrina New Orleans. Rachael D. Goodman Cirecie A. West-Olatunji University of Florida. AMHCA 2007 - New Orleans. The Effects of Hurricane Katrina on Residents of New Orleans. Displacement Increase in unemployment

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Transgenerational trauma resilience in post katrina new orleans

Transgenerational Trauma & Resilience in Post-Katrina New Orleans

Rachael D. Goodman

Cirecie A. West-Olatunji

University of Florida

AMHCA 2007 - New Orleans

The effects of hurricane katrina on residents of new orleans

The Effects of Hurricane Katrina on Residents of New Orleans


Increase in unemployment

Closing of child care facilities, medical facilities, schools, libraries, restaurants

“Skyrocketing” insurance costs

Economic hardship

Increase in housing costs

Lack of public transportation

GNOCDC, 2007

AMHCA 2007 - New Orleans

Transgenerational trauma

Transgenerational Trauma

Trauma that is experienced intergenerationally despite the absence direct exposure to a traditional traumatic stimulus (Davidson & Mellor, 2000; Nagata, 1990)

Developed from the study of Nazi Holocaust survivor’s children (Danieli, 1998)

Extended to study of family members of veterans from World War II and the Vietnam War, indigenous peoples, individuals and groups living under repressive regimes, experiencing domestic violence and crime, and living with infection and life-threatening diseases

Symptoms may include depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation and behavior, substance abuse, and violence (Duran, Duran, Yellow Horse Brave Heart & Yellow Horse-Davis, 1998; Felsen, 1998; Raphael, Swan & Martinek, 1998; Simons & Johnson, 1998)

AMHCA 2007 - New Orleans

Current limitations of mental health services

Current Limitations of Mental Health Services

Mental health literature on trauma is based on the DSM-IV-TR’s definition of a traumatic event provided in the criteria for PTSD (Scaer, 2001)

“the person experienced, witnessed, or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to physical integrity of self or others” (APA, 2000, p. 467)

Transgenerational trauma is excluded because a traumatic event must be directly experienced (Burstow, 2003; Danieli, 1998)

Systemic oppression as transgenerational trauma is ruled out because it does not necessarily refer to an even that is physically dangerous (Burstow)

AMHCA 2007 - New Orleans



“Resilience is the ability to ‘bounce back’ after significant adversity and risk”

(Echterling, Presbury & McKee, 2005, p. 10)

Offers explanation for differential outcomes

Mental health professionals can use resilience to focus on strengths of an individual or group and promote healthy functioning despite adversity

AMHCA 2007 - New Orleans

Resilience cultural context

Resilience & Cultural Context

Why is Resilience an effective theory for transgenerational trauma?

Inclusion of transgenerational factors (Walsh, 2002)

Intergenerational factors may be identified that hinder or help resilience

Incorporation of individual and family factors (Waller, 2001)

Stressors may come from an individual experience, family stressors and the environment, transgenerational trauma

Individual and family defined stressors or risk factors

Risk factors (traumatic events) not limited by the DSM-IV-TR definition of trauma

Understanding of oppression is necessary to understanding resilience (Waller, 2001)

Individual and family defined strengths & protective factors (Walsh, 2002)

Culturally-based coping mechanisms

Individuals and families define healthy functioning

AMHCA 2007 - New Orleans

Case illustration one k 8 school antoinette

Case Illustration One (K-8 school): “Antoinette”

Antoinette is a 38-year-old, African American high school English teacher from New Orleans. Antoinette’s family has lived in New Orleans for three generations, going back to the early 1900s. Antoinette’s husband, also an African American, works in the construction field. The couple has two children, ages 14 and 10. Despite both Antoinette and her husband’s employment, the family’s income falls below the poverty line. The family evacuated New Orleans just prior to Hurricane Katrina. They resided in Houston for the nine months following the storm. During their time in Houston, Antoinette and her husband were able to find comparable work and send their children to school. After nine months in Houston, the family returned to New Orleans.

AMHCA 2007 - New Orleans

Case illustration two monteleone hotel arthur

Case Illustration Two (Monteleone Hotel):“Arthur”

Arthur is a divorced, 55 year old managerial employee at a downtown, locally-owned hotel who lives alone. Prior to Hurricane Katrina, Arthur lived in his single-family dwelling home in a middle-class neighborhood in New Orleans.

Although Arthur had never been to counseling, he was interested in sharing his story about the loss of his material possessions and the privacy of his home.

In group counseling sessions, Arthur initially was hesitant about disclosing his feelings. However, during the Story Circle, Arthur was able to express his sense of being overwhelmed by the task of rebuilding and the loss associated with the destruction of his neighborhood community.

Additionally, Arthur talked about the challenges at work and the extended hours without relief due to the shortage of workers.

AMHCA 2007 - New Orleans

Case illustration three samhsa brenda

Case Illustration Three (SAMHSA) : “Brenda”

Brenda is the wife of a police officer who has been serving in New Orleans without interruption. She returned to the city after approximately one month following Hurricane Katrina and has been with her husband for the last 2 months on one of the cruise ships docked in the Port of New Orleans.

Some of the issues expressed by Brenda include fear, helplessness, depression, anxiety, and anger. She has attempted to talk about her feelings with her husband but he is unresponsive. She cries a lot and spends most of her time in bed.

On one occasion, she spoke with the counselor about upcoming surgery for her dog who was evacuated to the Midwest to live with her niece.

AMHCA 2007 - New Orleans

Transgenerational issues

Transgenerational Issues

Vulnerability of New Orleans (Fischetti, 2001)

Below sea-level

Continual loss of its buffering delta

Previous disasters (Brinkley, 2006)

Hurricane Betsy, 1965, flooded some parts of the city with eight feet of water and killed 65 people

Hurricanes Andrew and Georges, in 1992 and 1998 respectively, both narrowly missed

Purposeful flooding, 1927, the Great Mississippi Flood

AMHCA 2007 - New Orleans

Transgenerational issues cont

Transgenerational Issues (cont.)

Assessing for prior traumas of natural disasters

Previous experiences with disasters either directly or by a previous generation

Assessing for resilience

Risk factors

Protective factors

AMHCA 2007 - New Orleans

Effective interventions for transgenerational trauma

Effective Interventions For Transgenerational Trauma

Collectively identify the issue and try new perspectives (Nobles, 1984)

Collective, narrative group approach through the Story Circle format (Junebug Productions, 2000; Williams-Clay, West-Olatunji & Cooley, 2001)

Systemic/ecological perspective (Pardeck & Chung, 1997) through the Community-as-client model (West-Olatunji & Watson, 1999)

AMHCA 2007 - New Orleans

Implications for counselors

Implications for Counselors

Mental health counselors should be informed about contextual issues

Sociopolitical history and systemic factors influence functioning, resources, and risks

Effective counseling can utilize client’s personal and cultural resources

Facilitating the use of transgenerational protective factors and coping mechanisms can improve counselor efficacy

AMHCA 2007 - New Orleans

Recommendations for advocacy outreach

Recommendations for Advocacy & Outreach

Become aware of the contextual issues

Partner with community members and stakeholders as informants and guides

Collaborate with community members to engage in advocacy

Dialogue and self-assess to ensure appropriateness of interventions and inclusion of transgenerational trauma and resilience in assessment and treatment process

AMHCA 2007 - New Orleans

Future research is needed to

Future research is needed to…

Further establish the effects of transgenerational trauma

Develop effective assessments for transgenerational trauma

Establish interventions for transgenerational trauma using resilience

Create outreach protocols for assisting communities with transgenerational trauma

AMHCA 2007 - New Orleans

Q & A

AMHCA 2007 - New Orleans

Counselors psychologist for national international disasters cpnid

Counselors & Psychologist for National & International Disasters (CPNID)

AMHCA 2007 - New Orleans

Transgenerational trauma resilience bibliography

Transgenerational Trauma & Resilience Bibliography Disasters (CPNID)

American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed., text revision). Arlington, VA: Author.

Brinkley, D. (2006). The great deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. New York: HarperCollins.

Burstow, B. (2003). Toward a radical understanding of trauma and trauma work. Violence Against Women, 9, 1293-1317.

Danieli, Y. (1998). Introduction: History and conceptual foundations. In Y. Danieli (Ed.), International handbook of multigenerational legacies of trauma (pp. 1-20). New York: Plenum.

Davidson, A. C., & Mellor, D. J. (2001). The adjustment of children of Australian Vietnam veterans: Is there evidence for the transgenerational transmission of the effects of war-related trauma? Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 35, 345-351.

Duran, E., Duran, B., Yellow Horse Brave Heart, M., & Yellow Horse-Davis, S. (1998). Healing the American Indian soul wound. In Y. Danieli (Ed.), International handbook of multigenerational legacies of trauma (pp. 341-354). New York: Plenum.

Echterling, L. G., Presbury, J. H., & McKee, J. E. (2005). Crisis intervention: Promoting resilience and resolution in troubled time. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Felsen, I. (1998). Transgenerational transmission of effects of the Holocaust. In Y. Danieli (Ed.), International handbook of multigenerational legacies of trauma (pp. 43-68). New York: Plenum.

AMHCA 2007 - New Orleans

Transgenerational trauma resilience bibliography cont

Transgenerational Trauma & Resilience Bibliography Disasters (CPNID)(cont.)

Fischetti, M. (2001). Drowning New Orleans. Scientific American, 285, 76-85.

Greater New Orleans Community Data Center [GNOCDC]. (2007, June). The Katrina Index: Tracking recovery of New Orleans & the Metro area. Retrieved from

Junebug Productions. (2000). Junebug’s story circle process.

Nagata, D. K. (1990). The Japenese American Internment: Exploring the transgenerational consequences of traumatic stress. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 3, 47-69.

Nobles, W. W.(1986). Ancient Egyptian Thought and the Development of African (Black) Psychology. In M. Karenga & J. H. Carruthers (Eds.) Kemet and the African worldview: Research, rescue and restoration (pp. 100-118). Los Angeles: University of Sankore Press.

Pardeck, J. T. & Chung, W. S. (1997). Treating powerless minorities through an ecosystem approach. Adolescence, 32, 625-34.

Raphael, B., Swan, P., & Martinek, N. (1998). Intergenerational aspects of trauma for Australian Aboriginal people. In Y. Danieli (Ed.), International handbook of multigenerational legacies of trauma (pp. 327-339). New York: Plenum.

AMHCA 2007 - New Orleans

Transgenerational trauma resilience bibliography cont1

Transgenerational Trauma & Resilience Bibliography Disasters (CPNID)(cont.)

Scaer, R. C. (2001). The body bears the burden: Trauma, dissociation, and disease. Binghamton, NY: The Haworth Press, Inc.

Simons, R. L., & Johnson, C. (1998). An examination of competing explanations for the intergenerational transmission of domestic violence. In Y. Danieli (Ed.), International handbook of multigenerational legacies of trauma (pp. 553-570). New York: Plenum.

Waller, M. A. (2001). Resilience in ecosystemic context: Evolution of the concept. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 71, 290-297.

Walsh, F. (2002). A family resilience framework: Innovative practice applications. Family Relations, 51, 130-137.

West-Olatunji, C., Watson, Z. (1999). Community-as-client mental health needs assessment: Use of culture-centered theory & research. The Community Psychologist,31, 36-38.

Williams-Clay, L., West-Olatunji, C., & Cooley, C. (2001). Keeping the story alive: Narrative in the African-American church and community, with Educational Resource Information Clearinghouse - Counseling and Related Services (ERIC-CASS) ERIC No: ED462666, pp. 1-9.

AMHCA 2007 - New Orleans

Contact information

Contact Information Disasters (CPNID)

Rachael D. Goodman, Ed.S.

Doctoral Student

Department of Counselor Education

College of Education

University of Florida

1215 Norman Hall,

PO Box 117046

Gainesville, FL  32611

(352) 392-0731 x-200

(352) 846-3011 (fax)

[email protected]

Cirecie A. West-Olatunji, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Department of Counselor Education

College of Education

University of Florida

1204 Norman Hall

PO Box 117046

Gainesville, FL  32611

(352) 392-0731 x-235

(352) 846-2697 (fax)

[email protected]

AMHCA 2007 - New Orleans