Complex trauma refers to the sequelae of simultaneous or continuous severe traumatic experiences. Torture, ongoing violence and natural disasters often create circumstances that are so difficult to integrate that a certain percentage of survivors will experience the symptoms of complex trauma. Many of these symptoms fall into the main three categories of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Hypervigilance, Hyperarousal, and flashbacks. In many cases, survivors may avoid any circumstance that may in any way remind them of the traumatic experiences.

As always, every individual manifests different combinations and intensities of symptoms. Treatment must be tailored to each individual case. Every tribe, culture, and nation has unique ways of treating trauma. In countries where psychology is not a discreet entitiy, psychotherapy is implicit in the ways people interact with one another both individually and collectively (rituals, customs and traditions). Practitioners who wish to assist groups that have experienced complex trauma must begin their work by learning such implict therapeutic techniques. Any other approach is doomed to failure by its presumption.

Two groups listed to the left are good resources for theories and methods of treating complex trauma. The International Society for Health and Human Rights (www.ishhr.org) consists of practitioners throughout the world who research the most effective ways of treating complex tauma. As traumatic experiences can empower unconscious processes at the expense of ego consciousness (see "analysis." left), the International Trauma Treatment Program (www.ittp.org) utilizes a Jungian approach to treat complex trauma.

Send mail to: jrv@u.washington.edu
Last modified: 7/24/2006 5:19 PM