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Treatment of Complex Trauma: A Sequenced, Relationship-Based Approach
Christine A Courtois and Julian D. Ford | Foreword by John Briere
Guilford Press / Softcover / Oct 2015
9781462524600 (ISBN-10: 1462524605)
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) / Trauma
price: $41.95
378 pages
In Stock (Ships within one business day)

his 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 therapist self-care. The companion website offers downloadable reflection questions for clinicians and extensive listings of professional and self-help resources. A new preface in the paperback and e-book editions addresses key scientific advances.


“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.”

—Doody's Review Service

“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

“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 book has already had a profound effect on the field, and has introduced many previously unaware clinicians to foundational concepts. 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.”

—Laura S. Brown, PhD, ABPP, private practice, 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

“Treatment of Complex Trauma is an excellent book for graduate Complex Trauma courses, as it provides a wide range of treatment strategies for clinicians to use with clients. The book give students a thorough understanding of PTSD and complex trauma. It offers a comprehensive overview of treatment measures, ways to build the therapeutic relationship, and clinician self-care.”

—Toby Spiegel, PsyD, Associate Dean, School of Behavioral Sciences, California Southern University

“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

“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


Foreword by 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

About the Authors:

Christine A. Courtois, PhD, ABPP, a counseling psychologist in private practice in Washington, DC, is National Clinical Training Director of Elements Behavioral Health; cofounder and past Clinical and Training Director of The CENTER: Posttraumatic Disorders Program, in Washington, DC; chair of the Guideline Development Panel for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder of the American Psychological Association (APA); past president of APA Division 56 (Trauma Psychology); and past founding Associate Editor of the Division's journal, Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy. She is a recipient of the Outstanding Contributions to Professional Practice Award from APA Division 56, the APA Award for Distinguished Professional Contributions to Applied Psychology as a Professional Practice, 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 (four of them coedited or coauthored with Dr. Ford), book chapters, and articles on trauma-related topics.

Julian D. Ford, PhD,ABPP, a clinical psychologist, is Professor of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Law at the University of Connecticut, where he is also Director of the Center for Trauma Recovery and Juvenile Justice. He has served on the Steering Committee of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, as Associate Editor of the Journal of Trauma and Dissociationand the European Journal of Psychotraumatology, as Co-Chair of the Presidential Task Force on Child Trauma for the APA Division 56, and as a board member and Vice President of ISTSS. With Christine A. Courtois, Dr. Ford is a recipient of the Print Media Award from 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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