VID Specialized University, Norway / Plymouth University, UK
Connections across the generations: Trauma and corrective scripts in families

Arlene Vetere, FBPsS, FAcSS, is professor of family therapy and systemic practice at VID Specialized University, Oslo, Norway. She has recently retired from her position as Deputy Director of the Clinical Psychology Doctorate at Surrey University, UK. She is a clinical psychologist registered with the UK HCPC, and a systemic psychotherapist and supervisor registered with the UKCP. She has authored numerous books and articles, and three with prof Rudi Dallos - the latest most relevant to this presentation is 'Systemic Therapy and Narratives of Attachment - Applications in a range of clinical settings', 2009, Routledge. She has co-edited with prof Tarren Sweeney, 'Mental Health Services for Vulnerable Children and Young People - Supporting children who are, or have been, in foster care', 2013, Routledge.

Rudi Dallos is professor and programme Director on the doctorate in clinical psychology at the University of Plymouth.  He has specialised in clinical work with children and families  and has developed, with Arlene Vetere, an approach which integrates concepts and clinical techniques from systemic therapy, attachment theory and narrative therapy (ANT). He has conducted research and  worked clinically  with the Young Offenders and developed  the ANT approach to working with them and their families. 

Systemic family therapists and researchers are interested in inter-generational learning in families, and specifically how aspects of family ‘culture’ are handed on to the next generation. They explore the development of patterns of attachment, care giving and comforting and the adaptive strategies of affect regulation, essential to our safety and protection and to that of others. This symposium will explore the idea that family members make comparisons across the generations in terms of the similarities and differences in how their own parents and grandparents were with each other as a couple and as co-parents, and with them, and with their children, and how this is either repeated, or changed, in each subsequent generation. Importantly, this allows us to construe the intentions of the individual/couple/family in a positive framework as they have tried to repeat what was beneficial to them and to ‘correct’ and change what was unhelpful to them in their past experiences. We suggest that the intensity and flexibility  of these attempts to ‘correct’ are in turn shaped by past dangers and traumatic  experiences  which can result perversely to aggravate rather than ameliorate problems. This opens a discussion with parents and family members as to whether these attempts have been successful or not, and how they might be altered, strengthened, elaborated or changed again. In this symposium, we shall make clear how research advances into understanding the developmental impact of unresolved intergenerational trauma and loss in families along with research into modern attachment theory and affect regulation can inform how  we assist children and families therapeutically when one or more members has been traumatised.