Challenging Definitions of Psychological Trauma: Connecting Racial Microaggressions and Traumatic Stress

  • Kevin L. Nadal John Jay College of Criminal Justice – City University of New York
  • Tanya Erazo John Jay College of Criminal Justice – City University of New York
  • Rukiya King John Jay College of Criminal Justice – City University of New York
Keywords: microaggressions, discrimination, racism, trauma, racial trauma

Abstract

While previous studies have found significant relationships between racial microagressions, depression, and anxiety, few studies have examined the effects of racial microaggressions on traumatic stress. Furthermore, although trauma has been traditionally conceptualized as psychophysiological reactions to life-threatening events, the notion of racial trauma has been excluded, despite resulting in similar symptomatology. The current study utilized a correlational, cross-sectional design with a racially diverse sample of people of color (N=254) to investigate the relationships between racial microaggressions, racially- or culturally-related trauma, and trauma symptoms. Using hierarchical multiple regression analysis, results indicated that a greater frequency of racial microaggressions was significantly associated with greater traumatic stress symptoms, and that school or workplace microaggressions were the type of microaggression that was most associated with traumatic symptoms. Implications are discussed, including the need for counselors, psychologists, and helping professionals to consider racial microaggressions as traumatic events while using culturally-informed trauma-focused methods to normalize and empower people of color.

Published
2019-12-12
How to Cite
Nadal, K. L., Erazo, T., & King, R. (2019). Challenging Definitions of Psychological Trauma: Connecting Racial Microaggressions and Traumatic Stress. Journal for Social Action in Counseling & Psychology, 11(2), 2-16. https://doi.org/10.33043/JSACP.11.2.2-16