Understanding and working with clients with traumatic experiences within the family context: Application of trauma-informed systemic work


Trauma-informed Care Series

 in helping professional practice


Understanding and working with clients with traumatic experiences within the family context: Application of trauma-informed systemic work


Trainer︰Law Sau Sheung, Sharon,
                 RSW, LMFT, Clinical Fellow (AAMFT)

“Sharon’s workshop is informative and inspiring.”
Prof. Ma Lai-chong, Joyce
Professor, Department of Social Work, CUHK

Workshop Description:

Many clients have suffered traumatic experiences within the family context where trust and secure attachment are severely violated. Research evidence has informed us that when parents’ own traumatic experiences from the past (e.g. early deprivation, abuse and neglect, and traumatic losses from family-of-origin) are not effectively processed, intimacy and marital satisfaction can be significantly impacted, and intergenerational transmission of traumatic experiences onto their children is much more likely. Resolution of traumatic experiences requires the opportunities for clients to have adequate expression of his/her traumatic memories, feelings, thoughts, body experiences, etc. to someone with sufficient sensitivity, attunement and containment who can competently support the client to make sense of their traumatic experiences, reconnect with the sense of trust and safety, and develop compassion for selfand others. Healing traumatic experiences takes time, energy, and the courage to be vulnerable, which is an antidote to our local cultural values of quickness, strong will and explicit achievement. From the perspective as a marriage and family therapist, this trainer postulates the importance of applying traumainformed practice principles in family and group work to support couples and parents to adequately process and resolve their past trauma so that the likelihood of re-traumatization can be significantly reduced among our younger generations who will develop better physical, psychological and relational health. 


  • To develop understanding of traumatic experiences within family contexts including major violation of trust and loss of a secure base. 1.  

  • To acquire knowledge about the process of intergenerational transmission of trauma in the Chinese Hong Kong context, and to develop a framework in proper trauma assessment and treatment planning. 

  • To cultivate therapeutic qualities (e.g. accurate mirroring, tolerance of vulnerability, articulation of the flow, etc.) that enhance the capacity to connect with clients with traumatic experiences, and to explore some trauma-informed interventions


Day 1    

  • A. Trauma-informed care framework and its implication on family and systemic work

  • B. Intergenerational transmission of trauma in Hong Kong Chinese context: Concerns and opportunities


Day 2    

  • A. Indicators of sufficient processing of traumatic experiences and interruption of intergenerational transmission process.     

  • B. Building therapeutic capacities and sensibilities to work with clients with intra-familial trauma


  • Didactic on impact of intergenerational trauma and trauma-informed framework

  • Sharing of outcomes in using group work in working with intergenerational trauma

  • Case sharing and discussion

  • Experiential practice in building therapeutic sensibilities 

About the trainer:

Ms. Sharon Law (羅秀嫦)

Professional Consultant, Social Work Department ,CUHK

BSSc (CUHK), MA in Clin.Psy. with emphasis on MFT (Azusa Pacific University, USA)
RSW, LMFT (California, USA), Clinical Fellow (AAMFT)

Ms. Sharon Law (羅秀嫦), is a Registered Social Worker in Hong Kong, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in California of the United States, and a Clinical Member with American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. 

She is currently working as the Professional Consultant at the Social Work Department of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, teaching courses in Family Therapy, Mental Health and Mental Disorders, and overseeing final year research projects done by master’s degree level students in Family Education and Family Counselling. She has had more than 20 years of professional experiences combined in being a social worker, a marriage and family therapist, a team leader and supervisor, and an agency administrator, all prior experiences that inform her current full-time teaching at CUHK. She has also authored and edited continuing education curriculums in the United States, and has done professional trainings and presentations in the United States, Europe, and Asia.

She has had extensive experience working with individual, couple, and family cases dealing with complex trauma (chronic abuse, neglect, violent experience, etc.). She has also worked with clients and their family members from different cultures who have experienced the impact of war trauma in Vietnam, Cambodia, Armenia, Iraq, and Afghanistan. She has received extensive trainings in different theoretical orientations in Family Therapy, Gestalt Therapy, and Contemporary Psychodynamic Therapy. As she is both a social worker and a marriage and family therapist—and as she has worked in the frontline providing direct services and also in the supervisory and managerial roles supporting her staff and agencies to build a trauma-informed work culture—she has been consolidating and indigenizing her own trauma-informed care perspective and approach by identifying and positing the key components and themes in trauma-informed services, conceptualization, and interventions.