Intergenerational Trauma and Its Relationship to Mental Health Care: A Qualitative Inquiry

Sophie Isobel, Andrea McCloughen, Melinda Goodyear, Kim Foster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Intergenerational trauma is a discrete form of trauma which occurs when traumatic effects are passed across generations without exposure to the original event. This qualitative study aimed to explore how psychiatrists understand intergenerational trauma in respect to their practice, for the purposes of identifying interventions for addressing intergenerational trauma in public mental health services. Findings revealed that psychiatrists observe intergenerational trauma frequently in their roles and try to opportunistically promote awareness of trauma with adults, and refer families to external services for supportive interventions. They feel powerless when faced with directly intervening with intergenerational trauma and required restructuring of their roles to adequately address it in public settings. Findings have implications for training, advocacy and research on the relationship between trauma and mental illness. Alongside this, there is an indicated need for examination of how systems can ensure access to appropriate services once organisations become trauma-informed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)631-643
Number of pages13
JournalCommunity Mental Health Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


  • Intergenerational trauma
  • Prevention
  • Psychiatry
  • Relational trauma
  • Transgenerational trauma
  • Traumatic stress

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