Purpose: The aim of the article is to explore what is meant by trauma and to illuminate how traumatic experiences are woven into the fabric of the lives of youth in disadvantaged contexts. The article shares a perspective on the value of body-based interventions and an innovative social justice approach, described as radical healing, that fosters individual and collective healing.
Design/methodology/approach: The article is based on a study using narrative inquiry to explore youth experiences of a holistic approach to personal transformation. The voice of two young men are included in the article. The methodological framework is one of thinking with stories, rather than about stories. It is about recognising the lived experiences of youth.
Findings: For youth in disadvantaged communities, trauma is a continuum of variably negative life events that continue to haunt them as they grow, such as poverty, food insecurity, and domestic violence. Body-based approaches and radical healing offer the possibility to centre individual healing, so that youth can be agents of transformation in their own lives and communities.
Social implications: Trauma if not understood and worked with meaningfully, is often the catalyst for substance abuse, violence, anger, alienation and exclusion.
Originality/value: A single narrative was analysed to understand trauma and its effects. The more trauma is unmasked, the more youth and communities can be supported to foster their own healing.
Keywords: narrative inquiry, radical healing, trauma, youth, disadvantaged communities