U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Toward a Radical Understanding of Trauma and Trauma Work

NCJ Number
Violence Against Women Volume: 9 Issue: 11 Dated: November 2003 Pages: 1293-1317
Bonnie Burstow
Date Published
November 2003
25 pages
This article offers a critique of the way in which professionals conceptualize and approach trauma and trauma work.
As violence against women gained attention as a public health problem, feminist therapy emerged as a way of treating trauma. Feminist contributions to trauma therapy have made significant impacts on the profession. This article offers a critique of how feminist theory has shaped trauma work. One criticism the article points out is the notion of post-traumatic stress disorder as encompassing too many random symptoms. Problems within feminist praxis are explored as the author asserts the need for a more radical understanding of trauma and trauma work. The article also explores the notion of institutional psychiatry and how it may actually create mental disorders by applying a rigid, textbook definition to patients’ problems. Trauma and trauma work is considered from a radical perspective and a more radical approach to counseling traumatized individuals and communities is urged. Trauma work should move away from the realm of psychiatry and toward a model of radical adult education. References