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Children and Adolescents – Guidelines Position Paper on Complex PTSD

ISTSS, 2019

For the past two decades, there has been substantial debate about whether there are qualitatively different symptom profiles that can develop in children from different types of traumatic events and life circumstances. The term “complex trauma” is often used to describe both the presumed causes and the consequences of exposure to traumatic stressors when the child has experienced other significant adversities and is manifesting more severe clinical presentations. The interest in an additional descriptive term or diagnosis has been fueled by trauma-focused treatment trials pointing to the fact that the experiences of many children involve more than the trauma and more than trauma-specific symptoms (e.g., children in foster care, residential treatment, juvenile justice). Efforts to classify these clinical presentations have included a proposed Developmental Trauma Disorder (Ford, et al, 2013).

Updated November 9, 2020.

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