Children whose families and homes do not provide consistent safety, comfort, and protection may develop ways of coping that allow them to survive and function day to day.
Complex trauma describes both children’s exposure to multiple traumatic events—often of an invasive, interpersonal nature—and the wide-ranging, long-term effects of this exposure. These events are severe and pervasive, such as abuse or profound neglect. They usually occur early in life and can disrupt many aspects of the child’s development and the formation of a sense of self. Since these events often occur with a caregiver, they interfere with the child’s ability to form a secure attachment. Many aspects of a child’s healthy physical and mental development rely on this primary source of safety and stability.
It is important that mental health providers, family members, and other caregivers become aware of specific questions to ask when seeking the most effective services for these children.
The following interventions have been developed specifically for Complex Trauma and were designed to address a range of developmental concerns and competencies.
The following resources on Complex Trauma were developed by the NCTSN.