Treating Survivors of Childhood Abuse: Psychotherapy for the Interrupted Life

Treating Survivors of Childhood Abuse: Psychotherapy for the Interrupted Life

by Marylene Cloitre, Lisa R. Cohen, Karestan C. Koenen

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Meeting a key need, this book presents a modular adult psychotherapy approach grounded in extensive clinical experience and research. Provided is a flexible, empirically supported framework for helping clients manage symptoms related to past physical or sexual abuse; build emotion regulation and interpersonal skills; and process traumatic memories and their associated…  See more details below


Meeting a key need, this book presents a modular adult psychotherapy approach grounded in extensive clinical experience and research. Provided is a flexible, empirically supported framework for helping clients manage symptoms related to past physical or sexual abuse; build emotion regulation and interpersonal skills; and process traumatic memories and their associated feelings of fear, shame, and loss. Session-by-session guidelines include many suggestions for tailoring interventions to each person's needs in the context of a safe, supportive therapeutic environment. Designed in a large, easy-to-use format, the book includes over a dozen reproducible handouts, worksheets, and other tools for clinicians and clients.

Editorial Reviews

Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Gary B Kaniuk, PsyD (Cermak Health Services)
Description: This is a step-by-step manual for treating survivors of childhood abuse. The authors introduce a "resource loss" model for understanding childhood abuse and have developed a two phase program for individuals suffering from such trauma.
Purpose: The authors describe their purpose in the preface: "This book provides a treatment program that takes into account the long trajectory of disadvantages experienced by many abuse survivors that precedes their arrival into the therapist's office. The concept of the 'interrupted life', which guides this treatment, refers to the disruption caused by abuse to self-regulation and interpersonal capacities that otherwise would have been expected to develop. The treatment is intended to provide the survivors with emotional and social skills they did not have the opportunity to obtain due to the diminished presence of a competent, caring, nurturing parent and the burden of managing the abuse, often alone or in secret." The book meets the authors' objectives.
Audience: According to the authors, "this book provides an evidence-based treatment for mental health providers who work with survivors of childhood abuse." They continue: "This book is also for the survivors themselves. We hope that each survivor may 'see' something of themselves in the descriptions and stories told in the book and, more important, find the interventions and ways of approaching problems relevant to them. Ideally, survivors perusing the book can come to know what they need or want and be better prepared to search for an effective therapy that is appropriate for them." The authors all have relevant experience in addressing PTSD.
Features: The book contains three basic parts: theoretical considerations and treatment guidelines; skills training in affective and interpersonal regulation (STAIR); and narrative story telling (NST). Each chapter in the last two parts has a box summarizing theme, planning and preparation, agenda (for the session), and session handouts. Each chapter in the two treatment phases (chapters 10-24) contains homework and/or worksheets for the client to complete. This readable book contains practical information that can be used by both experienced and novice therapists. The authors summarize their treatment philosophy in chapter 1: "The treatment philosophy described in this book affirms that recovery from childhood trauma requires the rehabilitation of resources and life skills that were derailed or denied in the skirmish of survival in a chronically abusive environment. The treatment is at heart a resource recovery program, with an emphasis on reclaiming and building emotional and social competencies. We adhere to the notion that resources above and beyond those necessary for survival must be recruited and accumulated in order to recover from the damages inflicted by a trauma. In addition, like many other researchers, clinicians, and survivors, we have found that emotional processing of the trauma is a powerful if not a critical component in trauma recovery."
Assessment: This is a wonderful book because it is can be used pragmatically with clients. Though trauma work is difficult, this book provides a coherent rationale and treatment program. It makes intuitive sense. I have not seen another treatment manual for survivors of childhood abuse like this one on the market.
From the Publisher

"This book presents an innovative treatment for adult survivors that is based on the available science about traumatic abuse and its aftermath. The authors' model is a hybrid of available effective treatments, organized in a progressive and hierarchical fashion. It dramatically shortens treatment time and thus has high value for clinician and patient alike. The treatment manual is concrete, yet attuned to the special needs and issues of survivors, and treatment goals can be quantified to test for effectiveness. A major contribution to the treatment literature."--Christine A. Courtois, PhD, Washington, DC

"This marvelous book comprehensively summarizes the effects of childhood trauma on cognitive, interpersonal, and self-regulatory functions, and presents a lucid, phase-oriented approach to the treatment of the hundreds of thousands of adults who suffer from the long-term effects of early developmental trauma. Filled with handouts and practical, step-by-step information, this book will serve as an invaluable guide to help clinicians organize and implement outstanding evidence-based treatment for this population."--Bessel A. van der Kolk, MD, Boston University School of Medicine

"Trauma clinicians have long awaited Cloitre and colleagues' treatment manual for child abuse survivors. The wait was well worth it: the authors offer a highly detailed, step-by-step, incisive approach to the treatment of trauma symptoms, affect regulation problems, and altered schemata. By attending to emotional regulation issues and the need for titrated exposure, and highlighting the importance of the therapeutic alliance, this book provides the missing link in the cognitive-behavioral treatment of complex, abuse-related trauma. I highly recommend this book!"--John Briere, PhD, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California

Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic

"A perfect aid for helping students understand the trauma a child endures when mistreated, as well as a source of valuable insights about tools for helping the child go through the process of recovery successfully. This text is one of the few I have ever read that respects how fragile and vulnerable we are when young, and why standard methods may not be as effective with children as they usually are with adults....I am amazed at how simply the text conveys the vast complexity that is a tortured child. The chapter order is exactly how I would want my students to progress throughout the course. The description of treatment methods is explanatory without being tedious, and the case examples are perfectly interspersed throughout the text to serve as lecture breaks for discussion. By far the most impressive aspect of the text is the practical advice provided. The numerous examples of how one would deal with a traumatized child in the real world, in actual therapeutic sessions, are most helpful....I cannot praise this work highly enough...The authors effectively convey the message that it is possible to make a positive impact in the life of a child who has seen so much pain and misery. If I can teach only one lesson to my students, I cannot think of a better one to convey."

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Product Details

Guilford Publications, Inc.
Publication date:
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
File size:
3 MB

Meet the Author

Marylene Cloitre, PhD, is the founding director of the Institute for Trauma and Stress at the New York University Child Study Center, and the Cathy and Stephen Graham Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Lisa R. Cohen, PhD, is a Research Scientist with the Social Intervention Group at the Columbia University School of Social Work. She maintains a private psychotherapy practice in New York City, specializing in the treatment of complex trauma disorders.

Karestan C. Koenen, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Society, Human Development, and Health and Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. She is also an experienced clinician, specializing in empirically validated treatments for PTSD.

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