Complex Trauma

Complex Trauma in Children and Adolescents
by Cook, Spinazzola, Ford, Lanktree, Blaustein, Cloitre, DeRosa, Hubbard, Kagan, Liautaud, Mallah, Olafson, & van der Kolk

The immediate and long-term consequences of children’s exposure to maltreatment and other traumatic experiences are multifaceted. Emotional abuse and neglect, sexual abuse, and physical abuse, as well as witnessing domestic violence, ethnic cleansing, or war, can interfere with the development of a secure attachment within the caregiving system.

Complex trauma exposure results in a loss of core capacities for self-regulation and interpersonal relatedness. Children exposed to complex trauma often experience lifelong problems that place them at risk for additional trauma exposure and cumulative impairment (eg, psychiatric and addictive disorders; chronic medical illness; legal, vocational, and family problems). These problems may extend from childhood through adolescence and into adulthood. … (Read the full article).

The article goes on to describe the seven “Domains of Impairment in Children Exposed to Complex Trauma” (attachment, biology, affect regulation, dissociation (ie, alterations in consciousness), behavioral regulation, cognition, and self-concept) and the “Six Core Components of Complex Trauma Intervention” (safety self-regulation, self-reflective information processing, traumatic experiences integration, relational engagement, and positive affect enhancement).  Lastly, the paper discusses current treatment models of complex trauma in children and adolescents.

Source: Cook, A., Spinazzola, J., Ford, J., Lanktree, C., Blaustein, M., Cloitre, M., & … van der Kolk, B. (2005). Complex Trauma in Children and Adolescents. Psychiatric Annals35(5), 390-398.

A brief video by The National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine and Mary Jo Barrett, MSW, Founder and Director Center for Contextual Change. “The symptoms we see, in the classroom, in our relationships are the persons attempts to regain [their lost] power, control and value.”


~ by Brendan Kober on December 16, 2011.

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