Much More Than PTSD: Mothers’ Narratives of the Impact of Trauma on Child Survivors and Their Families

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This study examined the narratives of ten Caucasian mothers whose children had been impacted by ‘traumatic’ events and referred to a specialist trauma service in N. Ireland. The research question was whether the PTSD construct adequately represented the broad ‘lived’ experience of the impact of trauma on survivors’ wellbeing and their family relationships as articulated by mothers post trauma. Narrative Interviewing methodology was employed and the resulting data inductively organised into an evolving thematic framework. A quantitative analysis of the prevalence of particular themes is presented supplemented by qualitative quotations to illustrate the complexity of reported impact. The major components of the mothers’ 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%). Prior history of adversity was resent in 8 out the 10 cases including a high level of suicide. PTSD symptomatology constituted a small proportion of the narratives (6.6%) and this suggests that the PTSD construct does not adequately represent the broad ‘lived’ experience of the impact of trauma. Although a small and heterogeneous study sample, the findings are sufficiently robust to suggest further investigation is required to understand the phenomenological experience of trauma of child victims/survivors and their families.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
JournalContemporary Family Therapy
Publication statusPublished - 01 Apr 2017


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