The Legacy of Developmental Trauma: Treating Complex Trauma in Adolescents and Families
Martha B. Straus, Ph.D
Audio Files


Many adolescents seen in treatment have endured complex trauma. Its impact registers on every level from the cellular to the societal. The children are affected neurologically, cognitively, physically, emotionally, behaviorally, socially, and spiritually. They suffer from the cumulative legacy of insecure and unstable attachments, domestic violence, abuse, neglect, multiple placements, and all of the attendant losses along the way, and are usually our most anxious, terrified, defiant, complicated - and mystifying - clients. Caring for them can also be overwhelming. Family members (and other caregivers) frequently suffer from vicarious traumatization or retraumatization while trying to contain and support them, adding another challenging layer of impact. By the time these adolescents reach adulthood, many systems are likely to have intervened to try to help them. But current expenditures for special education, healthcare, therapy and social services appear to be insufficient to stem the full gamut of negative physical and psychosocial outcomes including pregnancy, substance abuse, juvenile delinquency charges, mental health problems, school dropping out and serious chronic and acute medical problems. Complex trauma fills our hospitals and our jails; untreated, it is likely to be passed along to the next generation.

In this highly practical workshop, Dr. Straus will describe the impact and legacy of developmental trauma on adolescents and families, and offer dozens of effective interventions that you'll be able to take to the office right away. We will also examine the cumulative and synergistic effects of fostering resilience in the face of great vulnerability. At the end of the course, you'll know about: building teams that can offer multiple attachment relationships, improving executive functioning, reducing anxiety, unmasking agendas, devising joyful consequences (and using "time-in"), regulating affect, decreasing dissociative coping, fostering competencies and social skills, and developing coherent narratives. Through lecture and case examples, Dr. Straus will give you reasons to be hopeful, and confidence that you can help.