Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling and Psychological Services

First Advisor

Catherine Chang

Second Advisor

Janice Fournillier

Third Advisor

Laura Shannonhouse

Fourth Advisor

Michelle Mitchell


Generational trauma (GT) is the transmission of the effects of psychologically harmful events from generation to generation through epigenetics, parenting, and other socialization factors. It has been associated with attachment issues, suicidal ideations and behaviors, dysfunctional familial relationships, cultural mistrust, and other health problems such as increased symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, elevated mortality rate, and substance misuse, especially within multiple marginalized populations such as millennial Black women (MBW) (Bar-On et al., 1998; Brave Heart, 1999; Mohatt et al., 2014; Wilkins et al., 2013). The current study contributes to existing literature to further understand the GT experiences of MBW and their self-efficacy with regard to addressing GT within their families. A sequential exploratory mixed methods research design (quan  QUAL  quan) and a participatory action research framework were used to facilitate members’ (participants’) deeper understandings of GT and enhanced self-efficacy for addressing GT. Each of the twelve members (participants) engaged in a ten-week process including: (a) a pre-survey of trauma history and self-efficacy (Chen et al., 2001; Hooper et al., 2011), (b) an individual interview, (c) an eight-week, weekly support group, (d) a mid-point focus group interview, and (e) a post-survey of self-efficacy (Chen et al., 2001). Findings were cross-analyzed using critical discourse analysis (qualitative) and dependent t-tests (quantitative) to reveal six themes: (a) deepened awareness, (b) intentional community, (c) “abnormalizing” the normal, (d) exposure to complexity, (e) turning inward, and (f) taking action (the last three themes were developed through changes in self-efficacy). Implications for individuals, communities, counseling, counselor education, and future research are discussed.


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