Recovering from Genocidal Trauma: An Information and Practice Guide for Working with Holocaust Survivors

Recovering from Genocidal Trauma: An Information and Practice Guide for Working with Holocaust Survivors

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By Myra Giberovitch
University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division © 2014
World Rights
360 Pages
ISBN 9781442616103
Published Jan 2014
Online discount: 25%
 $34.95    $26.21
ISBN 9781442646322
Published Jan 2014
Online discount: 25%
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ebook (EPUB format)
ISBN 9781442665446
Published Dec 2013
Online discount: 26%
Full purchase $34.95

Since the Second World War people have become aware of the trauma associated with genocide and other crimes against humanity. Today, assisting mass atrocity survivors, especially as they age, poses a serious challenge for service providers around the world.

Recovering from Genocidal Trauma is a comprehensive guide to understanding Holocaust survivors and responding to their needs. In it, Myra Giberovitch documents her twenty-five years of working with Holocaust survivors as a professional social worker, researcher, educator, community leader, and daughter of Auschwitz survivors.

With copious personal and practical examples, this book lays out a strengths-based practice philosophy that guides the reader in how to understand the survivor experience, develop service models and programs, and employ individual and group interventions to empower survivors. This book is essential for anyone who studies, interacts, lives, or works with survivors of mass atrocity.

Myra Giberovitch is an adjunct teaching professor and field placement supervisor in the School of Social Work at McGill University as well as the founder of Services for Holocaust Survivors at the Cummings Centre in Montreal.


Part I: Survivors of Mass Atrocity

Chapter 1 – Mass Atrocity Crimes

Chapter 2 – Understanding the Historical Context

Chapter 3 – Identifying a Holocaust Survivor

Chapter 4 – Changing Perceptions about Holocaust Survivors

Part II: Understanding Survivors

Chapter 5 – Impact of Trauma: Vulnerability and Resilience

Chapter 6 – Environmental Factors that Reduce the Impact of Trauma

Chapter 7 – Other Issues Unique to Survivors

Part III: Survivor Services and Programs

Chapter 8 – Transcending Victimization through Empowerment

Chapter 9 – Creating a Specialized Program

Chapter 10 – Short-term Group Services

Chapter 11 – Long-Term Group Service: An Incubator Environment

Chapter 12 – Intergenerational Programs

Part IV: Professional Interactions with Survivors

Chapter 13 – Therapeutic Responses

Chapter 14 – Responses to Environmental Triggers

Chapter 15 – Responses to Emotional Reactions

Chapter 16 – Professional Considerations

Part V: Going Forward

Chapter 17 – Recovery Milestones Applicable to Other Communities


Appendix A: Mass Atrocity Crimes

Appendix B: Rafael Lemkin: A Survivor’s Contribution to Society




Recovering from Genocidal Trauma is a remarkable book. Breaking the conspiracy of silence surrounding trauma and ageing, this moving and thought-provoking book provides powerful insights that are of deep relevance to practitioners and survivors of genocidal trauma around the globe.”

Myriam Denov, James McGill Professor, School of Social Work, McGill University

“Well written, broad in scope, and extremely thorough, Recovering from Genocidal Trauma is an impressive book that contributes to the body of knowledge regarding practice with survivors of mass atrocity and trauma, especially aging Holocaust survivors and their children.”

Sophie Yohani, Department of Educational Psychology, University of Alberta

Recovering from Genocidal Trauma is a unique contribution to the literature on the practical provision of services for the aging Holocaust survivor. Myra Giberovitch’s familiarity and personal experience is of enormous benefit in a manual like this.”

Clare Pain, Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, and Director of the Psychological Trauma Program at Mount Sinai Hospital

“More and more survivors of atrocities are seeking help through health care and social service agencies in Canada, and social work and health care providers need to understand better how to service these people. Recovering from Genocidal Trauma is a much-needed book that looks at the effects of trauma on people who have experienced atrocities and war. Clearly written and quite practical in its content, it offers a wealth of knowledge for academics, practitioners, students and community leaders.”

Linda Kreitzer, Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary

"The life work of Myra Giberovitch finds expression in this valuable work infused with wisdom and insight. Myra is a professional (social work) and a daughter of parents who survived Auschwitz, Gross Rosen and Dachau. Raised by survivor-parents within a community of survivors, she knows of what she speaks. And thankfully she speaks not only of the damage inflicted through relentless and prolonged cruelty but also of the courage and strength demonstrated by so many Holocaust survivors in reclaiming a life of normality. In fact, she demonstrates that suffering and coping can indeed exist side by side and that understanding and respectful listening can be helpful to those who live life daily in the shadow of a tragic past.
This astonishing work reflects a vast experience and provides a framework for those who work with ageing Holocaust survivors as well as victims of contemporary genocides. It is a gift."

Robert Krell, Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia and Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association

“Myra Giberovitch has written a unique contribution to the body of literature on the survivors of the Holocaust.  Her ethnographic approach to the long-term effects of genocidal trauma combines the research with years of academic, clinical, and community social work practice, and imbues her work with the personal passion and insight of the daughter of Holocaust survivors. This book will provide new insights for genocide scholars and health and social service agencies, as well as family members.”

Paula David, Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto

‘An essential tool for everyone who studies, interacts, lives or works with survivors of mass atrocity.’

Mike Cohen, The Jewish Tribune May 2014

‘Myra’s vision, passion, and determination, as well as her compassion for the survivors, are clearly evident. I would strongly recommend this uplifting book as essential reading for anyone working with survivors of genocidal trauma.’

Judith Hassan, Kavod: A journal for Caregivers and Families March 31, 2015