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Unformatted text preview: Traumatic Loss and Major Disasters: Strengthening Family and Community Resilience FROMAWALSH,PH.D. w This article presents the core principles and value of a family and community resil- ience-oriented approach to recovery from traumatic loss when catastrophic events oc- cur. In contrast to individually based, symptom-focused approaches to trauma recovery, this multisystemic practice approach contextualizes the distress in the trau- matic experience and taps strengths and resources in relational networks to foster healing and posttraumatic growth. The intertwining of trauma and traumatic losses is discussed. Key family and social processes in risk and resilience in traumatic loss sit- uations are outlined. Case illustrations, model programs, and intervention guidelines are described in situations of community violence and major disasters to suggest ways to foster family and community resilience. Keywords: Family and Community Resilience; Traumatic Loss; Disaster Recovery Fam Proc 46:207–227, 2007 T he word trauma comes from the Latin word for wound . With traumatic experiences, the body, mind, spirit, and relationships with others can be wounded. The predom- inant therapeutic models used for treating trauma and survivors of major disaster have been individually focused and pathology based, centered on identifying and reducing symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), categorized as a mental disorder. (See the DSM III & IV, American Psychiatric Association, 2000, and the ISCD, World Health Organization, 1972.) In contrast, a multisystemic, resilience-oriented practice approach recognizes the widespread impact of major trauma, situates the distress in the extreme experience, attends to ripple effects through relational networks, and aims to strengthen family and community resources for optimal recovery. FROM INDIVIDUALTO MULTISYSTEMIC APPROACHES IN TRAUMA RECOVERYAND RESILIENCE Groundbreaking studies of World War II and Vietnam veterans and their families (e.g., Catherall, 1992; Figley & McCubbin, 1983; Hill, 1949) revealed the stressful Family Process, Vol. 46, No. 2, 2007 r FPI, Inc. 207 Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Froma Walsh, 969 E. 60th Street, Chicago, Illinois 60637. E-mail: [email protected] w Mose and Sylvia Firestone Professor, School of Social Service Administration and Department of Psy- chiatry; and codirector, Center for Family Health, University of Chicago. effects of combat experience on family systems. Yet, in the individually focused field of traumatology, only a few, led by Figley, have addressed the impact in relational systems wrought by war, catastrophic events, and widespread disaster (Catherall, 2004; Denborough, 2006; Webb, 2003). Serious individual and relational distress can occur with anxiety, depression, substance abuse, violence, and estrangement. Loved ones often suffer from secondary traumatization and compas- sion fatigue (Figley, 2002) in learning about, and responding empathically to, a loved...
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- The Bible