Trauma Interventions in African American Adolescents


Adolescents and small children encounter various challenges and events that tend to disorient their life experiences. Such individuals are usually vulnerable and have higher chances of experiencing traumatic situations and events. This discussion examines this problem and how it affects African American children. The analysis outlines some of the ideas, interventions, and practices that can help more professionals meet the needs of Africana American children and adolescents experiencing traumatic situations in their lives.

Definition of Trauma

Trauma is a common health problem caused by prolonged stress that overwhelms a person’s ability to cope. Manyam and Davis (2020) indicate that such a response to disturbing thoughts, events, or moments can trigger negative health consequences. Without proper and personalized support, the victims might be unable to re-pattern their experiences. In most cases, such individuals will tend to record negative experiences and fail to pursue their daily activities.

Cultural and Diversity Factors

Cultural competence is an evidence-based concept or skill that guides and empowers professionals in different fields to meet the demands of their respective clients. Those working with persons suffering from trauma should be aware of the cultural aspects and dynamics that can either support or affect the empowerment process. This analysis focuses on the expectations and needs of children from the African American community or population (Sargent et al., 2020). Professionals should ensure that the parents and family members of such adolescent beneficiaries are involved throughout the process.

The use of properly designed sessions would be appropriate if positive results are to be recorded. During the process, the professional should be keen to engage the followers using direct or oral communication. Such a method is more important and capable of meeting the demands of members of this population. To improve the process, the psychotherapist can guide the members to view trauma as a form of illness that human beings have to go through during their lives (Phipps & Thorne, 2019). Such an approach will help the client consider the best approach to re-pattern his or her experience. The inclusion of balanced diets, exercises, and traditional herbs would be culturally acceptable and capable of delivering timely results.

Through the process, the place of God in the life of every adolescent African American is worth considering. This attribute is essential since members of this target population believe that the Church forms a significant part of their lives. They express themselves through religion and belief. They will listen to worship songs, pray, and read various materials (Phipps & Thorne, 2019). The incorporation of these attributes means that the strategy is culturally appropriate. Since the targeted patients are young people below the age of 21, it would be appropriate to seek the necessary guidelines from the guardians or family members. The formation of focus groups for different therapy sessions can ensure that timely results are recorded within a short period.

Social Impact on Children and Adolescents

As described above, the selected population for this discussion is African American adolescents. These are young persons who are aged between 11 and 21 years. These individuals require proper guidance, support, care, and guidance if they are to overcome their sexual, mental, and emotional challenges (Cunningham et al., 2018). This phase of development is at times troubling and capable of affecting their overall life experiences. Young children and adolescents tend to embrace behaviors that are at times identified as inappropriate and destructive.

Sometimes they pursue actions blindly without considering some of the possible problems that might emerge. Some of these malpractices include binge drinking, purging, self-mutilation, tattooing their bodies, and compulsive sexual activities. These habits are either driven by traumatic stress or have the potential to trigger it (Cunningham et al., 2018). In severe cases, the affected children and adolescents will be unable to manage their emotions or relate positively with others. Some will externalize or internalize stress depending on the causal factors. Consequently, they will exhibit cases of increased anxiety, anger, and depression.

African American children and adolescents are experiencing different forms of trauma record various biological responses. For instance, maltreated children will result in behavioral changes and symptoms that are similar to those of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The body is capable of activating its biological stress response mechanisms. The end result is that the child’s behavior and emotions will change significantly. The psychological impact of trauma would be more pronounced in individuals who are considered underage. For instance, children who have gone through prolonged trauma will exhibit these key signs: confusion, anxiety, dissociation, sadness, and exhaustion (Sargent et al., 2020). Those who do not get help immediately will tend to experience additional psychological problems, such as depression and anger.

Trauma is capable of triggering cognitive symptoms during childhood. Cunningham et al. (2018) reveal that the emotional experience of traumatic events will compel children to have difficulties in memory and problem-solving abilities. Such individuals will be unable to remain attentive and improve their cognitive functions. Similarly, many scholars have identified some of the social implications of traumatic events and situations in underage individuals. For instance, Henderson (2019) indicates that the emotional pain and stress associated with trauma will make it impossible for the affected individuals to relate positively with their colleagues and family members. In most cases, they will totally withdraw from others and stop engaging in social activities that used to be entertaining. Experts dealing with such children and adolescents should be able to identify some of these impacts and consider the best ways to provide timely guidelines and support (Henderson, 2019). From this analysis, it is agreeable that the involvement of key professionals and families could be evidence-based and capable of delivering timely results.

Societal and Familial Dynamics

African Americans are identified as a minority group in American society. Although these individuals have recorded meaningful milestones in the areas of education and economic attainment, much needs to be done if they are to achieve equal liberties and opportunities in the country. This argument supports the fact that many families lack resources and basic needs. This scenario explains why some young people might experience different forms of abuse in their respective societies (Henderson, 2019). Those who have been raised by absent parents might lack the relevant moral guidelines. Most of them will be unable to get adequate financial resources to pursue and complete their studies. The end result is that they will engage in binge drinking and other social malpractices, including smoking, crime, and alcoholism.

Similarly, the family setups tend to be disoriented or incapable of meeting the demands of these adolescents. First, many individuals lack the relevant advice that can help them overcome the challenge of trauma. Second, most parents tend to be abusive and unsupportive, thus increasing the chances of social and psychological trauma (Cunningham et al., 2018). Third, some children grow up in families whereby their fathers have been incarcerated. Such individuals will be unable to acquire their basic needs. Fourth, the presence of timely guidelines and instructions in some African Americans families tends to expose more children to possible abuse. These attributes, therefore, explain why experts should be aware of these issues and be ready to offer personalized support.

Valid and Reliable Assessment Techniques

When dealing with individuals with diverse backgrounds, it is always necessary to embrace the use of assessment techniques that are valid, reliable, and capable of delivering positive results. For children and adolescents, the Childhood Attachment and Relational Trauma Screen (CARTS) appear to be the best. Experts will use it to examine children’s relations with their family members. The tool is simple and would be completed in 10-15 minutes (Henderson, 2019). The DSM-5 for posttraumatic symptoms is the second assessment method that could be appropriate for children with diverse backgrounds. It focuses on the symptoms and helps the assessor learn more about the level of trauma. The third method that can work effectively for the selected population group is the Child Post-Traumatic Symptom Scale (CPSS). This tool is reliable and capable of screening both adolescents and children for signs of trauma.

Individual and Family Strategies and Interventions

Psychotherapists can utilize different interventions to help adolescents who have gone through traumatic experiences. The first method is that of family therapy. Such an approach is structured in nature and helps professionals guide their clients in the family setting. The model encourages all family members to be involved in the process (Manyam & Davis, 2020). The ultimate aim is to reduce conflict and re-pattern the experiences of all individuals. Behavioral therapy is the second approach whereby the affected individuals could be suffering from the social and emotional impacts of trauma. This method is more personalized in comparison with family therapy.

Coping skills therapy is also personalized in nature. This third method is intended to inoculate stress. The fourth method that is capable of working effectively for individuals and/or families is that of cognitive processing therapy. This strategy is evidence-based and helps clients re-pattern their cognitive abilities (Cunningham et al., 2018). These methods are appropriate and capable of providing the necessary support to members of the selected population.

Resilience and Wellness Across the Lifespan

The concepts of ethics can guide professionals and family members to provide psychosocial therapy to adolescents across the lifespan. The idea of respecting and empowering young children and adolescents can help them pursue their goals diligently (Cunningham et al., 2018). Sources of abuse and trauma could be addressed through the notions of utilitarianism. Family and community members can embrace the best ideas and actions to maximize happiness for the greatest majority.

Similarly, evidence-based campaigns that are informed by the cultural aspects of African Americans can make it possible for the members to address all sources of trauma. Proper programs designed to provide continuous support and care to victims of abuse can result in resilience and sustainability (Manyam & Davis, 2020). Such measures will maximize wellness across the lifespan and ensure that members of the target population grow up to become responsible and successful adult citizens.


African American children and adolescents could be identified as a group that is at risk for trauma. The involvement of family members and experts can support such individuals and empower them to achieve their potential. Proper interventions and strategies will make it easier for them to address their challenges and eventually re-pattern their experiences. The proposed measures are culturally competent and capable of helping more adolescents from the selected racial community who might be going through trauma.


Cunningham, M., Francois, S., Lee, X. W., & Rodriguez, G. (2018). Resilience and coping: An example in African American adolescents. Research in Human Development, 15(3-4), 1-15. Web.

Henderson, Z. (2019). In their own worlds: How black teens define trauma. Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma, 12(1), 141-151. Web.

Manyam, S. B., & Davis, T. L. (2020). Trauma group therapy with African American children and adolescents: A 30-plus year content analysis. The Journal for Specialists in Group Work, 45(1), 56-75. Web.

Phipps, R., & Thorne, S. (2019). Utilizing trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy as a framework for addressing cultural trauma in African American Children and Adolescents: A proposal. The Professional Counselor, 9(1), 35-50. Web.

Sargent, E., Zahniser, E., Gaylord-Harden, N., Morency, M., & Jenkins, E. (2020). Examining the effects of family and community violence on African American adolescents: The roles of violence type and relationship proximity to violence. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 40(5), 633-661. Web.

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PsychologyWriting. 2023. "Trauma Interventions in African American Adolescents." September 19, 2023.

1. PsychologyWriting. "Trauma Interventions in African American Adolescents." September 19, 2023.


PsychologyWriting. "Trauma Interventions in African American Adolescents." September 19, 2023.