Transforming Historical Trauma Through Dialogue


David S. Derezotes

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  • Chapters
  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
  • Subject Index
  • Dedication

    I dedicate this book to my partner, Tami Derezotes. As the therapist tells Will in the film Good Will Hunting, a soul mate is someone who challenges you. In that sense, Tami, you have always challenged me to be the best person I can be, and I always appreciate that.


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    I believe that we need more leaders who see their role as dialogue facilitators. Such leaders are likely to help transform the sociohistorical trauma in our families, institutions, and local and global communities. Such leaders are not reluctant to stand up to violence when necessary, but they also recognize that violence tends to lead to more violence, creating ongoing cycles of sociohistorical trauma. I believe we can co-create a world where people can be both passionate about we think, feel, and want and yet remain compassionate toward those who think, feel, and act differently.


    I want to express my gratitude to Kassie Graves, Senior Acquisitions Editor, Human Services at SAGE Publications. Thank you, Kassie, for believing in this project and giving me the opportunity to write and publish this text.

    I also need to acknowledge some of the people who were especially helpful to me as I researched and wrote this book. Thank you to Candace Christensen and Sui Zhang for your help in the literature reviews. Thanks to AuDeane Cowley; you have always been willing to let me discuss my ideas with you. I am thankful to Kilo Zamora, for your help in developing the chapter on social and economic justice issues. I also acknowledge George Cheney and Mark Owens and Debra Daniels; I value you as co-developers and co-facilitators of dialogue, and I have learned valuable lessons from all of you. Finally, thanks to all of the people who have allowed me to facilitate dialogue spaces for you; you have all also been important teachers for me as well.


    Transforming Historical Trauma is written for both professional helpers and for the general public, although professionals may be more familiar with some of the concepts in the text. This text is divided into three sections.

    Section I: Sociohistorical Trauma, Transformation, and Dialogue

    The five chapters in this section provide a background into the research and theories that inform the three main topics of the text. The population at risk includes people who experience sociohistorical trauma (described in Chapter 1). The practice goal with this population is transformation (described in Chapter 2). The method used to treat this population is dialogue (described in Chapters 3, 4, and 5). Section I is the most academic section and has the heaviest use of citation, which gives the reader a summary of the most recent and relevant literature on these subjects. The author has used female pronouns throughout most of Section I.

    Section II: Dialogue Models

    The five chapters in this section provide dialogue models that can be used to help transform sociohistorical trauma. The psychodynamic model (Chapter 6), cognitive-behavioral model (Chapter 7), experiential model (Chapter 8), and transpersonal model (Chapter 9) are informed by the four “forces” of psychology that have been developed over the past 150 years. The ecological and biological models (Chapter 10) are drawn from more recent approaches to professional helping that have especially emerged in the past decades. These chapters are a blend of literature review and model building. The chapters are heavily referenced but not necessarily as extensively as in the first five chapters of Section I. The author has used a mixture of female and male pronouns in Section II.

    Section III: Dialogue Applications

    The last five chapters of the text provide readers with dialogue methods that can be used with groups commonly encountered in today's practice settings. These methods are drawn from the models described in Section II. Chapter 11 describes dialogue methods that can be used to help bridge community divides. The use of dialogue to help address social and economic justice issues is addressed in Chapter 12. Dialogue models for peace and conflict resolution work is the focus of Chapter 13. Chapter 14 provides methods for children, youth, adults, and the elderly across the life span. Finally, the last chapter (Chapter 15) offers a community therapy model of dialogue for work with mental health issues. Chapters in this last section include shorter literature reviews and devote relatively more attention to the description and philosophy of practice in dialogue methods. Chapters in this section use primarily male pronouns.

  • About the Author

    David Derezotes is currently Professor at the College of Social Work, University of Utah, where he is Chair of Mental Health and Practice and Director of the Bridge Training Clinic. He also teaches in the Peace and Conflict Studies program, the URLEND program, and the Religious Studies program at the university. His other texts include Spiritually-Oriented Social Work Practice (2006), Revaluing Social Work: Implications of Emerging Science and Technology (2005), and Advanced Generalist Social Work Practice: An Inclusive Approach (2000). He is involved in a number of campus and community dialogue projects in Utah, including Bridging the Religious Divide, the Dialogue Training Group, and the White Male Privilege Group.

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