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Complex Trauma SIG


Exposure to complex trauma results in a complex array of symptoms, which may or may not co-occur with the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder. The Complex Trauma special interest group focuses on 1.) identifying the myriad ways in which symptoms related to Complex Trauma can develop, 2.) delineating the ways in which these symptoms manifest, and 3.) understanding and addressing the treatment challenges associated with Complex Trauma.

Symptoms related to Complex Trauma can develop under a variety of circumstances, and an identifiable traumatic stressor is not always discernible. Ongoing psychological threat to the integrity of the self, whether due to shifting caregivers, community violence, or lifelong disadvantage, may not equate with an immediate threat to life or limb, but may nonetheless profoundly affect individuals and communities. These profound effects may present in unexpected ways, including as affective disorders, interpersonal problems, substance abuse, and poor physical health. Neurobiologically, exposure to Complex Trauma is associated with differences in key brain regions related to affect regulation, interpersonal functioning, and reward. These neurobiological differences may be caused by stressors, or represent risk factors for the development of chronic symptoms in the wake of Complex Trauma. Thus, the ultimate goal of this SIG is to provide a forum for clinicians whose clients typically consist of children and adults suffering from the pervasive and long-term effects of Complex Trauma, and for researchers endeavoring to better understand the symptom profiles of individuals with exposure to Complex Trauma.


Stephen DiDonato, PhD
Thomas Jefferson University

Lori Herod, EdD
Founder, Out of the Storm

Rebecca Ohler
Federal Public Defender District of Oregon

Student Co-Chair

Kelly Pattison, MA, LMHC
Adler University

Krista Engle
University of Colorado, Colorado Springs

Complex Trauma SIG Listserv Address

Members of the Complex Trauma SIG can use the SIG listserv to share information with the full SIG.

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