Treatment of Complex Trauma: A Sequenced, Relationship-Based Approach

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Overview

Authored by two experienced clinicians, this insightful guide provides a pragmatic roadmap for treating adult survivors of complex psychological trauma. Christine Courtois and Julian Ford present their effective, research-based approach for helping clients move through three clearly defined phases of posttraumatic recovery. Two detailed case examples run throughout the book, illustrating how to plan and implement strengths-based interventions that use a secure therapeutic alliance as a catalyst for change. Essential topics include managing crises, treating severe affect dysregulation and dissociation, and dealing with the emotional impact of this type of work. The companion Web page offers downloadable reflection questions for clinicians and extensive listings of professional and self-help resources. See also Drs. Courtois and Ford's edited volume, Treating Complex Traumatic Stress Disorders, which presents research on the nature of complex trauma and reviews a range of evidence-based treatment models for adults.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The state of the art of treating complex trauma, both the basics and the nuances, as summarized by two wise and sophisticated experts."--Judith Lewis Herman, MD, Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

"Both authors have worked extensively with survivors of complex trauma, and share their wisdom and experience in this book. At a time when this clinical population is becoming more visible to clinicians, this thoughtful, extensively documented work is a real treasure. The emphasis on therapist self-care and the ways in which the authors underscore the central importance of therapist self-awareness and self-regulation are particularly valuable. This book will be required reading for all of my interns."--Laura S. Brown, PhD, ABPP, Director, Fremont Community Therapy Project, Seattle, Washington

"Courtois and Ford, two internationally acknowledged experts, have written a magnificent book on the nature and phase-oriented treatment of complex trauma. Destined to become an instant classic, the book is illustrated throughout with instructive case material. It is at once an excellent guide for the uninitiated and an outstanding resource for experienced clinicians in the field. As most forms of complex trauma occur in interpersonal relationships, the book's emphasis on the therapeutic relationship as the vehicle for healing contributes to its importance."--Onno van der Hart, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Psychopathology of Chronic Traumatization, Utrecht University, The Netherlands

"Finally! We have long needed a clinical guidebook that takes treatment providers through the process of therapy for complex posttraumatic stress syndromes, which are among the greatest challenges that professionals encounter. Courtois and Ford's broad and deep clinical experience shines through in their discussion of assessment, engagement, and treatment--as do their optimism, passion, and hope."--Sandra L. Bloom, MD, founder, The Sanctuary Model

"Courtois and Ford provide detailed guidelines for conducting their sequenced treatment approach, from preparation, assessment, and planning, to each of the phases of therapy. The book covers the 'meat and potatoes' of trauma therapy: ensuring client safety, cultivating the therapeutic relationship, and processing trauma memories. It includes strategies from different theoretical approaches and treatment modalities and addresses more complex processes, such as psychic emptiness and dissociation. Written with exceptional clarity, compassion, and respect, and richly illustrated with clinical material, this is an invaluable resource for clinicians."--Sandra C. Paivio, PhD, CPsych, Department of Psychology, University of Windsor, Ontario, Canada

Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Ileana Ungureanu, MD, PhD (Adler School of Professional Psychology)
Description: This is a comprehensive work on the treatment of complex traumatic stress disorders, including the specific aspects of treating individuals, couples, families, and groups.
Purpose: The authors' goal is to provide mental health practitioners who work with complex trauma situations a guide for treating their clients, as well as a more in-depth understanding of these disorders and how they affect the lives of those suffering. It is a much needed book, due to a relative scarcity of literature dealing with complex trauma.
Audience: It can be useful to graduate students in training to be clinicians as well as to skillful therapists looking for more information in addressing very difficult situations with their clients. Both audiences can rely on these authors' work. Dr. Courtois is the past president of the Psychological Trauma Division of the American Psychological Association, and Dr. Ford is the associate editor of the Journal of Trauma and Dissociation, one of the premiere peer-reviewed journals in the field.
Features: While PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) has received a lot of research attention lately, complex trauma has failed to receive the recognition it needs as one of the most challenging situations therapists can encounter in their professional life. This book fills this particular scholarly void. It also addresses the relational impact of trauma. Many times complex trauma is perpetrated in relationships, sometimes in intimate relationships (parent-child, romantic partners). Until now, these aspects were not necessarily addressed in a comprehensive book about complex trauma. Using an attachment theory lens, the authors masterfully talk about the impact of trauma on couples and families, also addressing the very important topic of the therapeutic relationship as a secure base for clients suffering from trauma. The case examples throughout the book illustrate in a very poignant way the different aspects of treatment.
Assessment: This is a must-have for any clinician working with patients with trauma on a daily basis and for those therapists who do not necessarily have a specialization in trauma, but would like to get more knowledgeable about complex trauma. It should also be a required textbook for graduate students, especially doctoral level students interested in working in and/or researching PTSD situations.
The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease

“Courtois and Ford have demonstrated that they are masters of their subject and are masterful in communicating about the treatment of a very difficult patient population and have contributed a masterpiece in their book….This book is not only essential reading for therapists who want to take on the challenge of treating patients with complex trauma but also an excellent source for any professional who engages in psychotherapy. The reader comes away with not only important tools in establishing a meaningful relationship with patients but also a sense of the gratification that results from treating patients and being a partner in their growth and development.”--The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease
Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease

“Courtois and Ford have demonstrated that they are masters of their subject and are masterful in communicating about the treatment of a very difficult patient population and have contributed a masterpiece in their book….This book is not only essential reading for therapists who want to take on the challenge of treating patients with complex trauma but also an excellent source for any professional who engages in psychotherapy. The reader comes away with not only important tools in establishing a meaningful relationship with patients but also a sense of the gratification that results from treating patients and being a partner in their growth and development.”--Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781462506583
  • Publisher: Guilford Publications, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/30/2012
  • Pages: 378
  • Sales rank: 577,736
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Christine A. Courtois, PhD, ABPP, is a counseling psychologist in private practice in Washington, DC. She is immediate past president of Division 56 (Psychological Trauma) of the American Psychological Association (APA) and past Clinical and Training Director and cofounder of The CENTER: Posttraumatic Disorders Program, also in Washington. Dr. Courtois is a recipient of the Outstanding Contributions to Professional Practice Award from APA Division 56, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD), and the Sarah Haley Award for Clinical Excellence from the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS), among other honors. She has published numerous books, book chapters, and articles on trauma-related topics.

Julian D. Ford, PhD, a clinical psychologist, is Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, where he is also Director of the Child Trauma Clinic and of the Center for Trauma Response, Recovery, and Preparedness. He is Associate Editor of the Journal of Trauma and Dissociation and serves on the board of directors of the ISTSS. With Dr. Courtois, Dr. Ford is a recipient of the Print Media Award from the ISSTD for their coedited volume Treating Complex Traumatic Stress Disorders; he has also published several other books on trauma-related topics. Dr. Ford developed and conducts research on the Trauma Affect Regulation: Guide for Education and Therapy (TARGET) psychosocial intervention for adolescents, adults, and families.

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Table of Contents


Foreword, John Briere
I. Overview of Complex Traumatic Stressors and Sequelae
1. Complex Trauma and Traumatic Stress Reactions
2. Complex Traumatic Stress Reactions and Disorders
II. Treatment of Complex Traumatic Stress Reactions and Disorders
3. Preparing for Treatment of Complex Trauma
4. Treatment Goals and Assessment
5. Phase 1: Safety, Stabilization, and Engagement--Measured in Skills, Not Time
6. Phases 2 and 3: Trauma Memory, Emotion Processing, and Application to the Present and Future
7. Systemic Therapy across Phases: Group, Couple, and Family Modalities
III. Advanced Treatment Considerations and Relational Issues
8. Into the Breach: Voids, Absences, and the Posttraumatic/Dissociative Relational Field
9. Walking the Walk: The Therapeutic Relationship
10. Transference and Countertransference in Complex Trauma Treatment
Postscript
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