Children of victims of terrorist activities: A family approach to dealing with tragedy

Solly B. Dreman, Esther C. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The present report deals with the treatment of families of victims of terrorist activities. Such families are subject to an initial crisis situation involving severe stress as well as disruption in family role structure and homeostasis. Much of the trauma precipitated by such events is a result of their suddenness, their salience in the public consciousness and the consequent stigma they produce towards survivors and/or relatives of victims. A number of specific issues were common in the two case studies presented in this report as well as in other families affected by terrorism. These included dealing with the need to be a superparent and correcting unrealistic expectations, teaching effective limit setting including giving permission to be a parent, giving permission to bean adult, dealing with guilt and phobic reactions as well as family and network reorganization. Therapy concentrated on promoting family strengths and coping and deemphasized individual pathology. Common to most families treated was the strong desire of the victim's children to be treated as normal and not as psychological casualties. Thus, family therapy proved to be an ideal treatment modality for dealing with the tragic loss. By focusing on the problems of day-to-day living, the mourning work evolved naturally in the course of therapy. Specific therapeutic modalities such as cotherapy and network intervention facilitated family adjustment considerably.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-47
Number of pages9
JournalThe American Journal of Family Therapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1982

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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