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A socio-cultural understanding of trauma in Black Africans in KwaZulu-Natal.

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For many South Africans, exposure to potentially traumatic events is an unavoidable part of daily life. However, trauma interventions which are developed on Western principles are used to treat people from non-Western cultures. Research has shown that the best treatment for a client is one that is tailored to the needs and sociocultural context of the individual. The aim of this study was to understand what cultural factors, social factors, traditional methods and beliefs should be considered when adapting a trauma intervention model to the South African context, specifically for Black Africans in KwaZulu-Natal. Kleinman‟s explanatory model of illness was used as the theoretical framework in order to inform the questions asked, and for analysis of the emergent data. A mixed method approach was employed, with data collection involving a PTSD screening measure and semi-structured interviews. Participants were Black individuals who had been through a traumatic experience. The research was conducted at Open Door Crisis Centre and 1000 Hills Community Helpers, and data was analysed using a thematic analysis approach. In support of studies reviewed, results showed that sociocultural factors, such as the culture of violence, culture of blame, poverty, patriarchy, alcohol use and an African worldview influenced victims‟ understanding of their traumatic event, consequences they experienced and what intervention they felt they required. It was deduced that much of the experience of the participants is not idiosyncratic to Black Africans, and therefore Western evidence-based treatments could be beneficial, with slight changes. A number of recommendations are made with regard to adapting a trauma intervention to make it more culturally applicable, including the need to test a CBT based intervention in a controlled study. There is also a need for prevention interventions at a community and policy level which aim to address the mentioned sociocultural factors.


M.A. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban 2013.


Post-traumatic stress disorder -- KwaZulu-Natal., Blacks -- Social conditions., Theses -- Counselling psychology