Shared traumatic reality in communal disasters: Toward a conceptualization

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The phenomenon variously termed " shared reality," " shared trauma," or " shared traumatic reality" refers to situations in which helper and helpee, psychotherapist and client, are exposed to the same communal disaster. This article has two aims. One, pursued in the first part of the article, is to trace the development of the concept; analyze the conditions under which it was acknowledged, articulated, and labeled; and review the changes in the term over time. The other, pursued in the second part, is to offer a conceptualization of the phenomenon based on analysis of the literature. Here, the article shows that the phenomenon is characterized by two distinct dynamics, one pertaining to professionals providing help in the emergency phase, the other to professionals conducting ongoing psychotherapy; to offer a preliminary definition of the phenomenon which covers the shared features of the two dynamics; and to present the distinct features of each.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-259
Number of pages11
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2010


  • Blurring boundaries
  • Communal disaster
  • Helping professionals
  • Shared trauma
  • Shared traumatic reality


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