Treatment of Complex Trauma: A Sequenced, Relationship-Based Approach

Author(s): Christine A. Courtois and Julian D. Ford


This 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 addresses key scientific advances.


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"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

"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

"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

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 Dissociation and 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.

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 Postscript References Index

General Fields

  • : 9781462524600
  • : Guilford Publications
  • : Guilford Publications
  • : November 2015
  • : United States
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Christine A. Courtois and Julian D. Ford
  • : Paperback
  • : 616.8521
  • : 378