Leone Centre Glossary

Trauma and Families in Family Therapy

Trauma and Families

Trauma can significantly impact families, creating challenges that reverberate through relationships and daily interactions. In family therapy, addressing these impacts is important for healing and promoting healthier dynamics.

Understanding trauma

Trauma refers to deeply distressing or disturbing experiences that overwhelm an individual’s ability to manage day to day life. These experiences can range from abuse and neglect to accidents and natural disasters. When one family member experiences trauma, it often affects the entire family system.

Impact on families

Trauma can alter family dynamics, leading to communication difficulties, trust issues, and emotional disconnection. Families might struggle with unresolved conflicts, heightened stress, and changes in roles and responsibilities. Recognising these impacts is an important step in family therapy.

Role of family therapy

Family therapy aims to address the collective and individual impacts of trauma within a family. By providing a safe space for open dialogue, therapists help family members understand each other’s experiences and feelings. This process encourages empathy, strengthens relationships, and promotes a supportive environment for healing.

Approaches in therapy

Family therapists use various approaches to address trauma. These may include systemic therapy, which examines family patterns and interactions, and attachment-based therapy, which focuses on strengthening emotional bonds. These approaches help families develop healthier ways of relating to each other.

Support and resources

Accessing support and resources is vital for families dealing with trauma. Therapy sessions offer guidance and a structured environment to work through challenges. Additionally, educational materials and support groups can provide ongoing assistance and community support.


How does trauma affect family communication?

Trauma can lead to breakdowns in communication, where family members may avoid discussing distressing topics or struggle to express their feelings.

What is the goal of family therapy in addressing trauma?

The goal is to help families understand and manage the impacts of trauma, improve communication, and build stronger, more supportive relationships.

Can family therapy help with all types of trauma?

Yes, family therapy can be beneficial for various types of trauma, as it focuses on the relational and emotional aspects that affect the entire family system.


  1. Psychology Today: Trauma
  2. NCBI: Family Therapy for Trauma
  3. Good Therapy: Family Systems Therapy
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This glossary provides definitions of various counselling terms and approaches for informational purposes only, without implying endorsement or service provision