Complex Trauma is distinct from the multitude of other terms that exist to describe types of trauma exposure or manifestations of posttraumatic disturbance.
Complex Trauma is defined as the exposure to multiple, often interrelated forms of traumatic experiences AND the difficulties that arise as a result of adapting to or surviving these experiences.
The adverse experiences encapsulated by Complex Trauma typically begin in early childhood, are longstanding or recurrent, and are inflicted by others. Most often they are perpetrated within a person’s formative attachment relationships. Sometimes they are compounded by patterns of risk and dysfunction afflicting generations of families. Frequently, they intersect with structural and institutional forms of violence and oppression that beset certain peoples and communities, particularly those holding minority status within a given society.
The outcomes associated with Complex Trauma span a wide range of psychiatric diagnoses and misdiagnoses, functional impairments, and evolving educational, vocational, relational and health problems.
As illustrated by the above graphic representation of terms used to describe trauma exposure and outcomes, Complex Trauma is the most encompassing of these terms. Importantly, it is the sole clinical construct that considers traumatic experiences and posttraumatic adaptations to be elements of a singular phenomenon.
The writings in this section—along with information and resources provided throughout this website— are intended to unravel the complexity of complex trauma. We hope the perspectives shared here will facilitate a deeper understanding of complex trauma, its origins, it effects on people, and pathways to recovery.
Please visit the resources section of this website for downloadable articles and other resources on complex trauma, as well as links to books, videos and webinars. For inquiries about the topics and resources included in this website, or to correspond with its developers, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
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