Research-based Recovery Information*
for Adult Survivors of Childhood Abuse and Adversity


If you are currently experiencing an emotional crisis and you or someone else are at risk
-- please phone your local Emergency Service: Dial 111


Go to your nearest Hospital Emergency Department


Phone your local DHB Mental Health Crisis Team -- [LINK]

MOST people WILL benefit from talking to someone about their experience of trauma, but unlike in the old days of compulsory debriefing post "critical incident", HOW and WHEN this occurs, and with WHOM are perhaps most important. If YOU feel the need to talk to someone NOW, keep on asking until you find the right person.

General Information about Dealing with, and Recovering from, Trauma -- [LINK]

If you're looking
for general information on Psychology
and better coping, please go here -- [LINK}
-- these resources will also be valuable if you're coping with the effects of abuse and trauma,

but I'd recommmend you first consider some "crisis management skills" -- see --[LINK}.

If you have more time available, and are reluctant to be "dependent" if you can avoid it -- though in theory I'd always getting the support of otheres as much as possible (but this is not always available) -- take a look at my page on Tapping -- [LINK], and in particular, listen to Terri Cole's (2012) 42 min MP3 on Tapping for Childhood Trauma -- [LINK]

help with managing emotional distress    -  Use of Acceptance and Metaphors
-- practising the techniques suggested in this video by Joan Klagsbrun, PhD   in Counseling,
      may help with managing emotional distress -- [LINK]


          See Blog Post -- Functional Contextual View of Drugs,
                from Psychiatrist Dr Rob Purssey        [LINK]

     Other   "critical" (aceptical, in the scientific sense)   views of prescribed drug treatments


There are certain essentials if one is to recover successfully from the effects of childhood abuse and neglect. The first is a good relationship with oneself, the keys to which are self-awareness, self-forgiveness and self-compassion, and the second is a good relationship with another, the key to which is acceptance of you by the other as you are, warts and all, and that is not to say they do not wish to see you doing better than you are, and their capacity to validate you as a worthwhile human being. Indeed, this "comprehensive validation" has been shown to be even more effective in some ways, therapeutiaclly, than one of the standard therapies for childhood abuse and resulting personality difficulties - Dialectical Behavior Therapy (Linehan et al., 2002 -- [LINK]). Many of those suffering from depression, especially despression born of childhood trauma, have instead a negative relationship with themselves, sometimes even a self-hating relationship, the sort of relationship they don't share with other people, that others often don't even know about. Those from such backgrounds are often self-isolative, and "socially disconnected" from others, to such an extent that this is almost their primary defining characteristic (Dorahy, 2010) -- [LINK]

See my discussion of
             -- [LINK]

See my discussion of
             -- [LINK]

Cloitre et al (2011) -- [LINK] -- see also -- [LINK] -- report the results of a survey of experte in the treatment of Complex Trauma:

Ratings from a mail-in survey from 25 complex PTSD experts and 25 classic PTSD experts regarding the most appropriate treatment approaches and interventions for complex PTSD were examined for areas of consensus and disagreement. Experts agreed on several aspects of treatment, with 84% endorsing a phase-based or sequenced therapy as the most appropriate treatment approach with interventions tailored to specific symptom sets. First-line interventions matched to specific symptoms included emotion regulation strategies, narration of trauma memory, cognitive restructuring, anxiety and stress management, and interpersonal skills. Meditation and mindfulness interventions were frequently identified as an effective second-line approach for emotional, attentional, and behavioral (e.g., aggression) disturbances. Agreement was not obtained on either the expected course of improvement or on duration of treatment. The survey results provide a strong rationale for conducting research focusing on the relative merits of traditional trauma-focused therapies and sequenced multicomponent approaches applied to different patient populations with a range of symptom profiles.

This conclusion (whilst published in 2011), like most "published" research (the most current research is either reported in professional-to-professional contexts, such as conferences, or in other forms of professional-to-professional commmunication -- one of the initial reasons why "the internet" was established as an academic communication medium) does not reflect the most recent findings in the field, which will be discussed on this site as it appears. More thorough review and understanding of the research, as it has appeared since the time of Cloitre's reeearch, leads me to place a higher value than is consistent with a "second-line approach" on contextual and cognitive factors (such as mindfulness and, psychological flexibility). Naturally, I thus favour Acceptance and Commitment Therapy -- [LINK] as an approach to dealing with Complex Trauma. Certain elements of ACT are well researched, such as acceptance - the opposite of avoidance, mindfulness (especially the non-judgemental acceptance of private experiences such as feelings) -- [LINK], psychological flexibility, commitment to values, getting "unstuck" from past messages from others and from self ("self-stigma"), empathy, and especially self-compassion (Thompson & Waltz, 2008 -- [LINK]; Wei et al, 2011) -- [LINK]. Research considering these factors will be discussed in separate sections of this site.

Thus, the available treatments for Complex PTSD include:

I acknowledge there are numerous difficulties in carrying out and evaluating the use of "contextual therapies" such as ACT for PTSD / Complex Trauma, but the research has begun (Lang et al, 2012 -- [LINK]; Mulick, Landes & Kanter, 2011) -- [LINK}.

Elsewhere on this site -- [LINK], I provide guidelines for dealing with trauma experienced as an adult, which are adapted from those on the US Government's PTSD Factsheets, but I am adapting these to reflect the multi-problem nature of adult complex trauma of childhood origin and the latest research.

Additional information on this site about treatments for anxiety disorders [LINK]

For now may I recommend, consistent with the above advice, your trying out the following sites:

OTHER RESOURCES    on the 'net, publications, audiovisual etc

Gift From Within -- [LINK]
          -- An International Nonprofit Organization for Survivors of Trauma and Victimization
           -- Comprehensive range of resources for recovery from a variety of forms of trauma;
                     some free resources, some for purchase.

Established in 1993 with the intention of giving trauma survivors, their loved ones and supporters a credible online website that was friendly and supportive:

Help for Victims of Emotional Neglect -- in some ways, a central focus of this site,
see   [LINK]


Please NOTE -- whilst patients might benefit from "self-guided" application of the above materials, I strongly encourage you to discuss your use of these materials with your treating therapist.


Those who present with histories of having suffered childhood abuse, neglect, or trauma may present with a number of, perhaps related, conditions:

General trauma -- including PTSD is discussed here -- [LINK]

Complex Trauma Disorder -- [LINK]

Mood & Substance Use Disorders -- [LINK] -- still to be written -- but see comments in my early research proposal -- [LINK] -- and the local research by Kate Scott of Otago Univeersity, and related reseaarch by Shin et al -- [LINK]. It should be noted that even mild psychological disorder can have such severe effects, longterm, as reduced life expectancy -- [LINK]. Among the first prospective, community-based studies of the relationship between PTSD and adult substane use is that of Haller & Chassin (2012) -- still unpublished, and only recently "available" online -- [LINK] -- when I have had a chance to further review this study I shall report in more detail. In this study, results from path analyses indicated that PTSD symptoms directly influenced risk for adult drug problems, but PTSD symptoms only influenced risk for adult alcohol problems to the extent that PTSD symptoms increased early adult externalizing symptomatology. Early adult internalizing symptomatology did not significantly mediate the influence of PTSD on either adult alcohol or drug problems. These findings suggest that the association between PTSD and future drug problems may be best explained by a PTSD-specific self-medication mechanism, whereas the association between PTSD symptoms and future alcohol problems may be best explained by an increased propensity to engage in externalizing behaviors.

Physical Disorders -- still to be written -- but see other research Professor Scott has conducted, and note the chronic nature of the physical disorders suffered [LINK] -- and earlier research discussed briefly in my initial research proposal -- [LINK]


Resources in the areas of "acceptance" and "defusion" skills, especially those related to mindfulness, fusion/defusion, and values clarification / committed action towards those values:

THERAPY -- AUDIOVISUAL RESOURCES -- video, audio, articles -- [LINK]

Important projects for this site will be brief reports discussing the topics listed, but not detailed above (Mood and Substance Use Disorders; and Physical Disorders), and in particular the development of a table reviewing specific and non-specific treatment factors of likely relevance in the treatment of Complex Trauma. By specific factors, I mean relevant types of treatment (ACT, Cognitive Processing Therapy, in particular). By non-specific factors I mean such "process" factors as those aspects pertaining particularly to therapist-client relationship characteristics -- some of these factors are mentioned in the videos listed here -- [LINK}.

These videos are available via professional-to-professional communication --

                please contact me -- [LINK].