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Keywords:

  • families of catastrophe;
  • highly stressful event;
  • disengagement;
  • adaptability;
  • family therapy

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to present a rationale for and application of family therapy to traumatized clients and the families of these clients. After noting the frequency of trauma-inducing, highly stressful events, the paper briefly reviews the relevant traumatic stress literature. Next the paper includes a description of a theoretical orientation which draws from both the literatures of traumatic stress and family therapy. The bulk of the paper explicates a five-phase treatment approach to treating traumatized families. These phases are: (1) Building Commitment to the Therapeutic Objectives, (2) Framing the Problem, (3) Reframing the Problem, (4) Developing a Healing Theory, and (5) Closure and Preparedness. The concepts of victim blaming, roundtable testimonials, and healing theory are introduced and discussed here. The latter part of the paper presents several challenges for researchers and clinicians who are interested in traumatized families.