An exploration of drama therapy in addressing transgenerational trauma in post-war contexts

Murphy, Elizabeth Catherine
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Abstract The term intergenerational trauma or transgenerational trauma is a term that academics and practitioners in the fields of psychology and neuroscience are becoming more familiar with. For the purpose of this research report I will use the term transgenerational trauma to allow for consistency throughout. As a globe we are constantly being exposed to traumas every day, but also, we are living with traumas of the past that have been carried across generations. Using the creative arts such as drama therapy experts can begin to address trauma as well as (also) transgenerational trauma. The employment of a broad range of specific, scientific backed interventions to aid in the healing process of trauma will be a key part of this research. There is an understanding of the significance of effective interventions in the area of transgenerational trauma by experts such as Stephen Porges (1994). In this research paper, I will explore these experts’ opinions and research and will explore how useful these interventions may prove to be for helping those exposed to trauma and those carrying transgenerational trauma. As generations are carrying traumas from the past there is a greater need to break the cycle of trauma and to work with individuals and communities to break that cycle. For countries like Northern Ireland, South Africa, Rwanda and Australia who are living with unresolved traumas of the past it is evidently imperative to have interventions in place. The developments in research by the likes of Stephen Porges (1994) over the last 20 years on how trauma affects both the brain and the body highlights the need for more interventions that not only focus on healing the mind but also the body.
A Dissertation submitted as part of The Master of Arts in the field of Drama Therapy In The University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa