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Bragin, M. (2019). Pour a Libation for Us: Restoring the Sense of a Moral Universe to Children Affected by Violence. J. Infant Child Adolesc. Psychother., 18(3):201-211.

(2019). Journal of Infant, Child & Adolescent Psychotherapy, 18(3):201-211


Pour a Libation for Us: Restoring the Sense of a Moral Universe to Children Affected by Violence 

Martha Bragin, PhD, MSW

Addressing the treatment of children and adolescents affected by violent societies is a difficult one. The problem of combining family, community, and social healing with concern for the well-being of each affected child has been an intractable one in many countries, including the US.  The Moral Third is a developmental concept that illustrates how a sense of the moral world is at the heart of psychic development. The paper proposes that this concept offers significant practical application to the treatment of young people affected by violence and the society that has injured them.

The author draws on global efforts to think about this work in countries experiencing armed conflict. She reviews theoretical contributions from Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa and their application to US populations.  A case example from Sierra Leone illustrates the combined use of traditional healing with group work to create a space in which affected children, their caregivers, and communities could symbolize unspeakable experience and begin to heal. The paper connects the conceptual framework illustrated by this example with that of the Moral Third to suggest the creation of a way forward in which youngsters, their therapists and society might heal together.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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