Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)


Social Work

First Advisor

Michael Chovanec


Social Work


The purpose of this research project was to investigate the impact of parental trauma symptoms on the child. The researcher became interested in this topic over the last few years with the increased reports of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on returning vets from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. With reports of increase domestic abuse and suicides in this population, the research was curious how these symptoms of trauma impacted their children. The majority of the research reviewed centered around quantitative studies where parents had developed classic single event PTSD symptoms from war trauma (vs. complex PTSD), and how the diagnosis impacted their child on a micro level. The writer conducted a qualitative research project with 8 licensed mental health professionals who worked directly with children and families in private psychotherapy. Most of the findings supported the data in the existing literature. However, amajor finding was that in some cases a trauma bond between parent and child existed that was so invasive it replaced any sort of nurturance, security, or love between the parent and child, and yet they remained connected to each other. An implication for social work would be the importance of working from a systems perspective so that the child is not labeled as the sole problem, and that potential new treatments could be developed to work collaboratively with both the child and parent. Future research recommendations include: 1) studying a larger sample in order to generalize the population, 2) Identifying if the parent has a specific PTSD diagnosis in case examples, 3) Studying how the age of the child mediates the impact of the parent’s PTSD symptoms.

Included in

Social Work Commons