Social Welfare PhD student publishes study on healing self, healing community

Daria Mueller

Learn about the Social Welfare PhD program

Daria Mueller (PhD candidate, Social Welfare) is the lead author of the recently published study, “A mutual process of healing self and healing community: A qualitative study of coping with and healing from stress, adversity, and trauma among diverse residents of a midwestern city.” UWM Associate Professor David Pate and Professor Dimitri Topitzes co-authored the paper.


Residents of urban American neighborhoods facing economic hardship often experience individual and collective adversities at high levels. This study explores how racially diverse adults experience stress, adversity, and trauma, and how they cope and heal in the context of their environment.

Following a critical realist grounded theory methodology, four focus groups were conducted with African American, White and Latinx participants (N = 21) within an employment service program. Participants identified key stressors ranging from financial and job challenges, violence, and trauma.

To cope with and heal from adversity, they practiced positivity, named trauma and its effects, sought social connection, envisioned community‐based resources, and addressed structural and systemic barriers. The data generated a theory of “a mutual process of healing self and healing the community” through intrapersonal, interpersonal, and structural change.

The results of this study indicate a need for peer‐led, community‐engaged initiatives and holistic, trauma‐informed, healing‐centered practices.

From a UWM or UWM-connected computer, you can view the entire February 26 study  in the Journal of Community Psychology. You can view the abstract and other publication information from any other computer.