Finding the Treatment That’s Right for You
This section features a number of psychotherapy models, therapeutic interventions and specialized techniques for the treatment of complex trauma. The approaches included here include a carefully selected but non-exhaustive list. Other approaches may also be of benefit to you or someone in your care.
Trauma Treatments Featured Here
The models selected for inclusion here share one common focus: they were explicitly designed, modified or carefully repurposed to target and ameliorate the complexity of adaptation to trauma.
Some of these models were developed primarily for use with young children and their caregivers; some for adolescents; others for adults. Some are comprehensive interventions that attempt to address all the major effects of complex trauma.
Others focus on a particular category of complex trauma symptoms. Some are open-ended, longer-term therapies. Others are time-limited, structured treatment protocols. Some are designed as group therapies. Others are primarily practiced as individual, family or couples therapy. Most are designed as standalone treatments, while a few involve innovative techniques most often used in conjunction with a primary, trauma-focused psychotherapy.
Evidence Basis for Selected Treatments
Models listed here all possess some amount of empirical support. This is often in the form of published evaluation of their effectiveness in real-life practice. Notably, data of this sort is regarded in the scholarly literature as constituting a lower level of evidence-base compared to treatment efficacy data gathered from controlled research employing experimental study designs including random assignment of participants to treatment condition and exclusion for complicating factors. Such artificial study designs are often challenging to justify ethically, however, especially in the treatment of children and others who have been suffering for a long time. Also, many common effects of complex trauma—things like self-medication, self-harm, aggression, unstable living situations and caregiving relationships, and dissociation— are among the complicating factors excluded from formal studies.
Most interventions represented here are supported by a high degree of practice-based knowledge. This is knowledge gained about what works to help people heal, cultivated across decades of use with diverse clients and communities, and often embedded within cultural healing rituals.
A Note about Other Trauma Treatment Models
There are an ever-growing number of therapies for traumatic stress, including many good and highly-evidence-based models not described here. We did not include models that do not adhere to the phase-oriented approach recommended in the treatment of Complex PTSD. Revisiting traumatic memories without first attending to safety and building capacity to tolerate painful emotions has been associated with treatment dropout and worsening of symptoms in complex trauma clients.
Also omitted are a number of fine interventions that are difficult for an individual person or family to access, or that require infrastructure from larger systems of care to implement successfully. Likewise, we do not feature some models that have been successfully used with select complex trauma clients but were not primarily developed for this purpose.
Finally, many innovative, emerging treatments for complex trauma have not been added to this list because they have yet to be evaluated. Abundant information about other trauma treatment models is readily available elsewhere.
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