College of Science and Health Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Spring 6-11-2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Jocelyn Carter, PhD

Second Advisor

Cecilia Martinez-Torteya, PhD

Third Advisor

Anne Saw, PhD



This study seeks to address gaps in intergenerational trauma research by focusing on a predominantly Latine and racially minoritized sample, applying Life Course Theory concepts to the measurement of trauma exposure among parents, and using person-centered methods to uncover trauma typologies (subgroups with similarly patterned trauma histories). Participants were 143 parents (91 primary caregivers and 52 secondary caregivers, of which 42 were fathers) and their preschool age children (n = 91; 51.1% boys) recruited from three Head Start Programs in the Chicagoland Area (65.65% of families had low household incomes). Five distinct trauma typologies were found through Latent Class Analysis: Normative (50.70%), Non-Relational Acute (14.08%), Environment/Poverty and Childhood Sexual Abuse (14.08%), Lifespan Polytrauma (11.97%), and Lifespan Physical Abuse (9.17%). Children of fathers with trauma histories characterized by non-relational acute exposures had higher externalizing symptoms compared to children of fathers with normative trauma histories. Among mothers, relational frustration and parenting confidence emerged as two potential pathways of intergenerational trauma transmission mediating the effects of typologies characterized by poly- and/or relational trauma on child internalizing and externalizing symptoms. Findings illustrate the benefits of grounding research methodology in theory and suggest it might be helpful for trauma psychotherapists to take broader assessment and treatment approaches.

SLP Collection


Included in

Psychology Commons