The children and adults who are treated in mental health and social service settings and who have been exposed to adversity, trauma, and/or toxic stress are likely to suffer from complex problems related to the developmental challenges they have faced.
Table: Complex Responses to Toxic Events
Table: Chronic Maladaptive Pathways
Currently, efforts are underway to expand our understanding of the complexity associated with exposure to repetitive and overwhelming stress that usually begins in childhood by using different terms such as “complex PTSD” or “developmental trauma disorder” [1-2]. These terms embrace a wide variety of interactive problems that include: alterations in the ability to manage emotions; alterations of identity and sense of self; alterations in ongoing consciousness and memory; alterations in relations with the perpetrator; alterations in relations with others; alterations in physical and medical status; and alterations in systems of meaning.
S.E.L.F. represents the four nonlinear, key areas of recovery that provide an organizing framework for the complex problems presented by trauma survivors, by families with problems, and by chronically stressed organizations.
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