Research Topic

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Complex Traumatic Stress Disorder in Children and Adolescents

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About this Research Topic

Psychological trauma in childhood and adolescence constitutes a determining experience of adversity to the developing psyche of the child and the adolescent. Unidentified and untreated traumatic experiences, sometimes cumulative, may interfere with child development and alter his or her psychological and ...

Psychological trauma in childhood and adolescence constitutes a determining experience of adversity to the developing psyche of the child and the adolescent. Unidentified and untreated traumatic experiences, sometimes cumulative, may interfere with child development and alter his or her psychological and somatic functioning, leading in some cases to the development of a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or a Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD).

For clinicians working with children, the definition of what constitutes trauma has evolved through time, attempting to reach a systemic understanding of the various layers of traumatic experiences throughout development: sudden and violent confrontation to one's death or the death of significant others; loss of physical and/or psychological integrity, but also severe deprivation and separation from attachment figures.

The intensity of the exposure to these forms of trauma, their cumulative effect and the individual and familial responses determine the subsequent clinical evolution.
For children trauma may also be experienced indirectly through trans-generational transmission of trauma from parents (or other primary care-givers) to children. In some cases, unidentified and cryptic traumatic experiences may manifest through symptoms and relational dysfunction in situations where a part of the child's history is unknown, for example in situations like adoption.

The child and adolescent's environment has a very important impact on the evolution of the direct or indirect exposure to a highly distressing event into a stress related disorder. The family, social, and cultural environment can either acknowledge the child and adolescent's experience and accompany them or resort to denial and betrayal, leading to an exacerbation of the problems.

The scope of this Research Topic covers original research and review articles on PTSD and CPTSD in children and adolescents in different settings and on the clinical approaches to favor in terms of assessment, treatment, service organization, and support to the clinicians. The cross-fertilization of evidence-based and culturally relevant therapeutic techniques will be given particular attention. Quantitative as well as qualitative approaches are expected. Finally, an overview of clinical recommendations for the treatment of PTSD and CPTSD in children will be provided.

With thanks to Matias Corral for use of the image.


Keywords: Cross cultural approach, PTSD, CPTSD, Collective Trauma, Trauma Transmission


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