PTSS Course Outline


Course Description

This course focuses on the suffering and traumas associated with the African experience in America inclusive of the periods of capture, transport, enslavement, emancipation leading up to current times. Multigenerational patterns of adaptive behaviors passed along through generations will be explored with an emphasis on assessment and interventions using evidence based, culture specific, and social justice models. A relationship based approach with a particular focus on strategies that inform practice will be presented. The goal of this course is to expose students to the historical events and policies which have lead to contemporary social problems and structural inequalities that continue to negatively impact African Americans. The course will provide practical tools that will inform practice and empower individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities throughout the change process.

A crucial aspect of social work involves sensitivity and competence in working with African Americans as an underserved population. This course is designed to enable students to develop a knowledge base and critical awareness of issues specifically impacting African Americans in practice and policy. This course will include the development of techniques useful for practice.

Course Objectives

At the completion of this course, students will be able to:

A. Understand how the structural inequalities beginning with the period of enslavement continue to impact African Americans and their communities today.

B. Select and apply strategies to enhance empowerment for African American populations at risk, and to promote economic and social justice across the five levels.

C. Understand the cultural ethical issues related to differing assessment intervention strategies for working with African Americans.

D. Analyze and apply relevant concepts of the Relationship Approach and the Philosophical Aspect of cultural difference as a basis for understanding the reasons African American individuals and families behave the way they do within their social/cultural environments.

E. Examine and investigate culturally appropriate interventions for work with African American individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities.

F. Understand how to involve community residents, professionals, and family members in change strategies aimed at policy and organizational change.

G. Critique trauma theory and literature for relevance in working with people of color.

H. Understand the role that social learning theory and learned helplessness has played in the adaptive behaviors of African Americans and other racial and ethnic groups.

Required Texts
Leary, J. D. (2005) Post traumatic slave syndrome: America’s legacy of enduring injury and healing. Portland Or. Uptone Press,

DeGruy, J. A. (2009) Post traumatic slave syndrome: America’s legacy of enduring injury and healing: The study guide. Portland Or. JDP publisher.

PTSS Book and Study Guide can be purchased on line at: and will also be available in class on April 6th 2012

• 1 PTSS book and 1 PTSS Study Guide will be on reserve at the PSU Library.

Suggested Readings:

Alexander, M. (2010). The new jim crow: Mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness. New York, NY: The New Press.

Butterfield, F. (1995). All god’s children: The bosket family and the american tradition of violence. New York: Avon Books

Gilligan, J. (1997). Reflections on a national epidemic, Violence. New York: Random House, Inc.

Hacker, A. (1992). Two nations: Black and white, separate, hostile, unequal. New York, NY: Macmillan publishing Company.

Kalayjian, A. & Eugene, D. (2010). Mass trauma and emotional healing around the world[2 volumes]: Rituals and practices for resilience and meaning-making. Santa Barbara, CA:
Praeger, ABC CLIO.

Mclagen, E. (1980). A peculiar paradise: A history of blacks in oregon 1788-1940
Portland, Or, Georgian Press.

Morris, T. (1996). Southern slavery and the law, 1619-1860. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press

Painter, N. I. (2010). The history of white people. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company
Stamper, N. (2005) Breaking rank New York: Avalon Publishing.

Stamper, N. (2005). Breaking rank. New York: NY Avalon Press.

Tatum, B. D. (1997). Why are all the black kids sitting together in the cafeteria? New York: Basic Books.

Reading Packet (available later)

The following websites may have useful materials for some of the content of this course:

Instructional Methods

This class will be taught with a variety of methods in order to; (1) convey different types of information, (2) highlight African American axiological teaching and learning styles (3) include formats that require students to apply their learning. This class blends lecture, discussion, audio and videotapes, and small group process. Course readings allow students to individually gain knowledge of information. In-class sharing of reactions to the course materials allows students to gain an understanding of multiple perspectives on, and critiques of, the readings. Interactive lectures will be used to present frameworks for understanding diversity, oppression, and social changes strategies, and also allow students’ reactions and perspectives to be shared so that we all learn from each other. Finally, in-class student presentations allow all students to benefit from each others’ experiences and learning, and allow for peer feedback.

This class blends lecture, discussion, films, videotapes, and small group process. Groups will accomplish tasks such as discussion, assignment preparation, skill building, support, case consultation and presentation, role play, and literature review. Given the variety of methods utilized to teach this course, your attendance and participation are crucial to your learning, the learning of others, and the maximization of all methods used.