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Beyond The Balance Sheet Podcast

Aug 17, 2022

Today’s guest is psychotherapist Dr Kristen Zaleski. Dr Zaleski speaks about surviving trauma and the impact trauma has on its victims. She breaks down the different levels of trauma and explains that trauma consists of moments that happen during a high-stress state. Dr. Zaleski discusses how trauma is different for each individual and describes the signs parents should  look for in their own children. Tune in today to learn more about how trauma affects individuals and the support people need to work through the trauma they have experienced.  




  • [00:55] Dr. Kristen Zaleski’s background.  
  • [1:52] Is there such a thing as generational trauma, and how does someone break the cycle? 
  • [4:00] How do professionals find a way to provide help but still manage their own lives? 
  • [6:41] Are there differing capacities to the way people handle trauma?  
  • [8:58] We have exposure on a daily basis through social media, the news, etc. Are there different levels of trauma?  
  • [13:18] What should parents look  for if their children have experienced trauma?  
  • [18:06] How Dr. Kristen Zaleki sees the connection between those who have experienced trauma and those who are affluent. 
  • [22:38] What do we think about the long term impact of those who were sexually assulted by those in power?   




  • The capacity to handle trauma depends on how you were raised as a child and how your self-care and  survival strategies are when it comes to stress.  
  • Stress is an important and necessary part of life. The important thing is being able to find a way to regulate the stress and find a way back to homeostasis. It’s important for parents and caregivers to allow their children to experience stress, but also educate them on healthy ways to cope.  
  • There is a lot of blame and discounting of trauma with victims. People need support to shift the narrative from it being their fault to it being a situation that happened. They need  help to work through the feelings of stress that come along with trauma.  



Kristen Zaleski, Ph.D., LCSW is the Clinical Director of the Mental Health Collective, founding director of the USC SDP-Keck Human Rights Clinic, and a past Associate Professor at USC in the School of Social work for the past decade. She is also a psychotherapist in private practice in Hermosa Beach, California. Kristen's research and clinical focus spans two decades with trauma survivors and survivors of human rights abuse. Dr. Zaleski's first book, Understanding and Treating Military Sexual Trauma, is currently in its 2nd edition and is the first social work text on the topic. In November 2019, Oxford University Press published her second book, Women's Journey to Empowerment in the 21st Century, on the topic of transnational feminism and global violence. Dr. Zaleski is an Advisory Board Member to Meta (previously Facebook) on the Global Safety Task Force team and is a trainer at the Department of Defense on sexual violence treatment and theory.   


USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck Kristen Zaleski Profile  


Dr. Kristen Zaleski’s Website 


The Mental Health Collective Website 


Dr. Kristen Zaleski’s LinkedIn 


Dr. Kristen Zaleski’s Twitter