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Complex Post Traumatic Disturbance


Children and adults who are exposed to social and economic disadvantage, racism, sexism, homophobia, and homelessness are more likely to experience trauma and may be more negatively affected by it (e.g., Bassuk, et al., 2003; Carter, 2007). (e.g., Breslau, Wilcox, Storr, Lucia, & Anthony, 2004; Chen, Keith, Airriess, Wei & Leong, 2007). Also crucial is the fact that disadvantaged young people are less likely to have access to quality mental health care after experiencing trauma (e.g., McKay, Lynn, & Bannon, 2005; Perez & Fortuna, 2005; Rayburn, et al., 2005). Individuals of lower socioeconomic position are disproportionately represented among the victims of crime, according to studies published in the clinical literature.


Child abuse, sexual and physical assaults by peers, gang or community violence, "drive-by" shootings, robbery, sexual exploitation through prostitution, trauma associated with refugee status, witnessing domestic violence, and loss associated with a family member's or friend's murder are all common traumatic experiences among those of lower socioeconomic status (e.g., Berthold, 2000; Breslau, 1991; Farley, 2003; Giaconia et al.,1995; MacBeth, Sugar, & Pataki, 2009; Schwab-Stone, et al., 1995; Singer, Anglin, Song, & Lunghofer, 1995).


Complex posttraumatic disturbance is a term used to describe the mental health effects of a person's exposure to many, severe kinds of trauma. The term "complex trauma" refers to a group of symptoms that arise from exposure to a number of traumatic incidents that might be continuing in nature and can have a wide range of effects on the victim. Sexual, physical, and/or psychological abuse in childhood is a common cause of trauma, and it usually occurs with emotional neglect and toxic social settings (Briere & Scott, 2012; Cook, et al., 2005).


Anxiety, depression, dissociation, relational, identity, and affect regulation disturbances, cognitive distortions, somatization, "externalizing" behaviors such as self-mutilation, dysfunctional sexual behavior, and violence, substance abuse, eating disorders, vulnerability to revictimization, and traumatic bereavement associated with loss of family members and other significant attachment figures are all impacts of complex trauma.


There is a lack of empirically-informed therapies for children and adolescents who have experienced complex trauma, despite the fact that this issue is very frequent in mental health populations, particularly among socially impoverished or marginalized groups. This deficiency may be attributable in part to the difficulty of the issue; addressing such a wide variety of effects often necessitates a combination of treatment modalities and components.


Single-modality methods to treatment (e.g., exposure therapy, cognitive therapy, or psychiatric medication) may not always be the most effective, as was said above; this is particularly true if the intervention is not tailored to the client's unique psychological requirements and cultural context.

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Mimi Rothschild

Mimi Rothschild is the Founder and CEO of the Global Grief Institute which provides Certification training programs forGrief Coach, Trauma Coach, End of Life Coach, and Children's Grief Coach. She is a survivor who has buried 3 of her children and her husband of 33 years. She is available for speaking engagements and comments to the press on any issue surrounding thriving after catastrophic loss. MEDIA INQUIRIES: Info@GlobalGriefInstitute.com

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