Mother's Narratives of Trauma: An exploratory study of how mothers' narrate the impact of trauma on their families

Stephen Coulter, Suzanne Mooney

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This study explored the narratives of 10 mothers whose families had been impacted by potentially traumatising events. The study was set in the context of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a relatively narrow psychiatric construct, which currently dominates much professional discourse and practice in traumatology, but references literature that provides a theoretical rationale for a broader approach. Narrative Interviewing methodology was employed and mothers of families referred to a specialist clinical service were interviewed prior to professional therapeutic intervention. The 10 mothers' narratives were analysed thematically via a rigorous process involving two independent analysts and the data organised into an evolving theoretical framework of themes and supra-themes. As hypothesised, PTSD symptomatology constituted a small proportion of the mothers' narratives (6.2%). The major components of the narratives included family and relational distress (35.7%), non-pathological individual distress (24.4%), resilience (16.7%) and a prior history of adversity (16.6%). Although exploratory in nature, the results of this study are sufficiently strong to warrant further investigation and raise tentative questions regarding the appropriateness of many existing therapeutic services for people impacted by trauma.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusIn preparation - 2014


  • Psychological Trauma
  • Narrative Interviewing
  • Trauma Impact
  • Mothers
  • Relational Impact

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