Working with complex trauma
Bedford Symposia for counselling and psychotherapy
Complex trauma involves chronic, repeated, or sustained trauma, often accompanied by captivity. Initially, this was the description given by Judith Herman in relation to Vietnam veterans, survivors of domestic violence, and adult survivors of child sexual abuse. Her descriptions now form the basis of the new psychiatric diagnosis of complex post-traumatic stress disorder. The evidence suggests that this would also apply to other forms of developmental trauma and severe adult trauma such as torture and imprisonment and many refugee experiences.
In psychotherapeutic practice, we would recognise many of these complex trauma patients as those individuals who may be difficult to engage, high risk and evoking powerful countertransference experiences and inevitable enactments. Working with this group stretches our psychodynamic frame and may require a more flexible, adaptive, and at times an innovative way of making authentic therapeutic contact.
Dr Joanne Stubley is a medical psychotherapist at the Tavistock Clinic. She leads the Tavistock Trauma Service and is a member of the British Psychoanalytic Society. She is also trained in trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy, eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) and MDMA assisted psychotherapy for PTSD. Dr Stubley is co-chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists Psychotherapy Faculty Task group on historical child sexual abuse and is a clinical trustee at the charity Freedom from Torture.
Bedford Counselling and Training are a counselling charity in Bedford providing affordable and low fee counselling for adults in and around Bedford. Our symposia are an opportunity for therapists in the east midlands to hear renowned speakers without going into London.