Treating the invisible wounds of sociocultural trauma: A multicultural relational perspective

Our reliance on narrow definitions of trauma has impeded the ability of our field to fully grasp the pervasive and multitudinous ways in which trauma permeates the lives of marginalized groups.

It is rare, if ever, that dimensions of culture especially socio-cultural oppression are conceptualized as a form of trauma. The failure to consider socio-cultural oppression as a manifestation of trauma has made it difficult, if not impossible, for clinicians and other human service  providers to respond effectively to the complex and multifaceted needs of many clients from oppressed backgrounds. 

Clients from marginalized and oppressed backgrounds are often misunderstood, misdiagnosed, and consequently under-served. The lack of attention devoted to the intersection of culture and trauma has made it difficult for many clinicians to conceptualize and respond appropriately to the oppression-related subtleties that often underpin and undermine effective clinical engagement and treatment.

This address will introduce the Multicultural Relational Perspective as an approach to working effectively with clients whose lives have been maligned by the invisible wounds of sociocultural trauma. Specific strategies for addressing the hidden trauma wounds associated with marginalization, oppression, and stigma will be provided. Special attention will be devoted to an examination of critical ‘Self of the Therapist’ issues that may facilitate or impede effective engagement with and treatment of oppressed clients.

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