Handbook of Post-Traumatic Therapy

Handbook of Post-Traumatic Therapy

Handbook of Post-Traumatic Therapy

Handbook of Post-Traumatic Therapy

Synopsis

This handbook provides both a conceptual and practical framework for diagnosing, treating, and assessing post-traumatic stress in survivors of violence, abuse, war, ethnocultural problems, political torture, and disaster. The in-depth clinical experience of Williams and Sommer helps define a variety of theories and methods for treating children, adults, families, and other groups with various types of post-tramautic stress disorders. They point to specific new kinds of therapies and types of interventions, and discuss new developments and trends for the treatment of post-traumatic stress. This reference volume, with its lengthy bibliography, is designed for students, teachers, and practitioners in the fields of psychology and psychiatry, social work, medicine, and public health.

Excerpt

As a specific focus of professional practice, the field of traumatology is relatively new and, according to Figley (1994), has emerged only within the past decade. However, the incidence of traumatic events in the lives of human beings in all cultures has been documented for centuries, ranging from accounts in the works of Homer to Shakespeare's plays to Ambrose Bierce's chilling stories of Civil War soldiers (Williams, 1990).

It is highly unlikely that an individual will avoid the direct experience of a traumatic event or events during his or her lifetime. However, if that person is fortunate enough to avoid direct contact with trauma, secondary exposure to the traumas of others is unavoidable. The modern technological world allows every television owner to view on a daily basis death by starvation in Somalia, death by a sniper's bullet or the trauma of organized rape in rape camps in Bosnia, and countless other examples of human pain. The secondary traumatization resulting from this constant exposure to the traumas of others may eventuate in post-traumatic symptoms.

Traumatic events, by DSM III-R definition (APA, 1987), are events "out of the range of ordinary experience." To be classified as traumatic, an event must be perceived and processed as serious enough to challenge basic assumptions of safety, predictability, justness, and fairness (Janoff-Bulman, 1992). These events, during processing, become encoded in the brain as active memory and often return in the form of intrusions (the "B" category of DSM III-R; images, dreams, reactions to triggers, flashbacks) (Horowitz, 1986). If the mind is unable or unwilling to process these intrusions, it tends to shut down and avoid them, until they become so intense that they are unavoidable and demand attention.

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