The treatment regimens for individual, collective, and transgenerational trauma are closely interrelated; indeed, treatment may span generations and requires a culture-sensitive approach . The concept of post-traumatic stress disorder can be applied to all ethnic groups. Yet, the different notions of health and/or illness as well as cultural or medical treatment traditions when dealing with traumatic experiences require different concepts or therapeutic modifications [13,14,15,16].
A basic requirement is a secure environment in which the person does not feel the threat of persecution or any other danger. Only this sense of security will allow open dialogue regarding their experiences and acceptance of the treatment and therapists. Even the recognition of cognitions, emotions, the definition of self, individual and collective identity, and the way in which disorders manifest themselves (for example, women increasingly complain of headaches), makes conventional treatment difficult since there is often no concordance with known diagnostic criteria . Women repeatedly report, in great detail, the burden of their ancestors using the word ‘Ferman’ (equivalent to the Holocaust) , and are not able to make the link between this and their own traumatization, which can lead to a lack of understanding and impatience among physicians and therapists .
A further problem during treatment is trauma confrontation [20, 21]. The Yazidis are familiar with the practice of ‘narration’, freely speaking about disasters, which can be used to good effect as a resource . Nevertheless, traditional expositional therapy with survivors who have completed their socialization in a collective society up to adulthood is not always effective [23,24,25], and may even be counterproductive, reducing compliance and increasing the drop-out rate. Against this background, it remains an open question whether suppression and avoidance might be better coping strategies. In many cultures, this represents a successful coping mechanism, and this is particularly true in collectivist societies in which social harmony is the highest priority . Particularly in this case, the healing process is determined by the cultural and social context, and all efforts are made to ensure that the victim does not ‘lose face’. When correctly applied (e.g., by means of social support, social contact, and when embedded in social structures), narration can be accepted by the victim and can be experienced as a healing process. In traditional societies, the telling of stories (narration) is a trusted psychological tool; in fact, this tool was still known to the Mayas .
The collective experiences of terror and abuse, part of the collective memory of the Yazidis, difficult as they may be, may (from a psychotherapeutic point of view) help a Yazidi to come to terms with their individual trauma by strengthening their resilience. Resilience strengthening is of great significance for the treatment of terror survivors.