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#1. Thus polyvictimization or complex trauma are "developmentally adverse interpersonal traumas" (Ford, 2005) because they place the victim at risk not only for recurrent stress and psychophysiological arousal (e.g., PTSD, other anxiety disorders, depression) but also for interruptions and breakdowns in healthy psychobiological, psychological, and social development. Complex trauma not only involves shock, fear, terror, or powerlessness (either short or long term) but also, more fundamentally, constitutes a violation of the immature self and the challenge to the development of a positive and secure self, as major psychic energy is directed toward survival and defense rather than toward learning and personal development (Ford, 2009b, 2009c). Moreover, it may influence the brain's very development, structure, and functioning in both the short and long term (Lanius et al., 2010; Schore, 2009).

Complex trauma often forces the child victim to substitute automatic survival tactics for adaptive self-regulation, starting at the most basic level of physical reactions (e.g., intense states of hyperarousal/agitation or hypoarousal/immobility) and behavioral (e.g., aggressive or passive/avoidant responses) that can become so automatic and habitual that the child's emotional and cognitive development are derailed or distorted. What is more, self-integrity is profoundly shaken, as the child victim incorporates the "lessons of abuse" into a view of him or herself as bad, inadequate,
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#2. ... as Herman (1992b) cogently noted two decades ago, these personality disorders can be iatrogenic, causing harm to individuals as an inadvertent result of the social stigma they carry and the widespread (but not entirely accurate) belief among professionals and insurers that those with Cluster B personality disorders (especially borderline personality disorder[BPD]) cannot be treated successfully, cannot recover, and are a headache to practitioners. For example, the BPD diagnosis continues to be applied predominantly to women often, but not always, in a negative way, usually signifying that they are irrational and beyond help. Describing posttraumatic symptoms as a personality disorder not only can be demoralizing for the client due to its connotation that something is defective with his or her core self (i.e., personality) but also may misdirect the therapist by implying that the patient's core personality should be the focus of treatment rather than trauma-related adaptations that affect but are distinct from the core self. In this way, both therapists and their clients may overlook personality strengths and capacities that are healthy and sources of resilience that can be a basis for building on and enhancing (rather than "fixing" or remaking) the patient's core self and personality.
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#3. With regard to complex trauma survivors, self-determination and autonomy require that the therapist treat each client as the "authority" in determining the meaning and interpretation of his or her personal life history, including (but not limited to) traumatic experiences (Harvey, 1996). Therapists can inadvertently misappropriate the client's authority over the meaning and significance of her or his memories (and associated symptoms, such as intrusive reexperiencing or dissociative flashbacks) by suggesting specific "expert" interpretations of the memories or symptoms. Clients who feel profoundly abandoned by key caregivers may appear deeply grateful for such interpretations and pronouncements by their therapists, because they can fulfill a deep longing for a substitute parent who makes sense of the world or takes care of them. However, this delegation of authority to the therapist can backfire if the client cannot, or does not, take ownership of her or his own memories or life story by determining their personal meaning.Moreover, the client can be trapped in a stance of avoidance because trauma memories are never experienced, processed, and put to rest. Helping a client to develop a core sense of relational security and the capacity to regulate (and recover from) extreme hyper- or hypoarousal is essential if the client is to achieve a self-determined and autonomous approach to defining the meaning and impact of trauma memories, a crucial goal of posttraumatic therapy.
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#4. The overarching principle of a therapeutic relationship is that therapists should be ever mindful of a variant of the Hippocratic oath and, to the degree possible, strive to "do no more harm" (Courtois, 2010). Complex trauma clients have already experienced considerable harm, much of it at the hands of other human beings. As a result of the ubiquitous processes of transference, attachment styles, and IWM [Internal working models], these clients often view the therapist's behavior and their relationship through the lens of their trauma-related negative interpersonal expectancies and unhealed emotional wounds and injuries. Therapists should not be surprised to be "guilty until proven innocent", not because clients with complex trauma histories are "unfair" or "unreasonable" but precisely the opposite - because the most realistic self-protective stance for them (given the fact that betrayal and harm have been more the rule than the exception) is to "distrust first and verify" (or to be hypervigilant) rather than to start with an expectation of safety and trustworthiness.
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#5. The development of a working alliance is crucial because it addresses a psychic phobia associated with relationships that is common in complex trauma clients. As we discussed, when primary relationships are sources of profound disillusionment, betrayal, and emotional pain, any subsequent relationship with an authority figure who offers an emotional bond or other assistance might be met with a range of emotions, such as fear, suspicion, anger, or hopelessness on the negative end of the continuum and idealization, hope, overdependence, and entitlement on the positive. Therapy offers a compensatory relationship, albeit within a professional framework, that has differences from and restrictions not found in other relationships. On the one hand, the therapist works within professional and ethical boundaries and limitations in a role of higher status and education and is therefore somewhat unattainable for the client. On the other, the therapist's ethical and professional mandate is the welfare of the client, creating a perception of an obligation to meet the client's needs and solve his or her problems. Furthermore, the therapist is expected to both respect the client's privacy and accept emotional and behavioral difficulties without judgment, while simultaneously being entitled to ask the client about his or her most personal and distressing feelings, thoughts and experiences. Developing a sense of trust in the therapist, therefore, is both expected and fraught with inherent diff
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#6. Type II trauma also often occurs within a closed context - such as a family, a religious group, a workplace, a chain of command, or a battle group - usually perpetrated by someone related or known to the victim. As such, it often involves fundamental betrayal of the relationship between the victim and the perpetrator and within the community (Freyd, 1994). It may also involve the betrayal of a particular role and the responsibility associated with the relationship (i.e., parent-child, family member-child, therapist-client, teacher-student, clergy-child/adult congregant, supervisor-employee, military officer-enlisted man or woman). Relational dynamics of this sort have the effect of further complicating the victim's survival adaptations, especially when a superficially caring, loving or seductive relationship is cultivated with the victim (e.g., by an adult mentor such as a priest, coach, or teacher; by an adult who offers a child special favors for compliance; by a superior who acts as a protector or who can offer special favors and career advancement). In a process labelled "selection and grooming", potential abusers seek out as potential victims those who appear insecure, are needy and without resources, and are isolated from others or are obviously neglected by caregivers or those who are in crisis or distress for which they are seeking assistance. This status is then used against the victim to seduce, coerce, and exploit. Such a scenario can lead to trauma bonding between
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#7. Trust of others is in short supply for many adult survivors, as complex trauma generally involves major relational betrayal. It is, therefore, expectable (although paradoxical) that clients with these histories are predisposed to be mistrustful at the outset of therapy, precisely because of (and in proportion to) the actual trustworthiness of the therapist. When past experiences have thought hard lessons, namely, that one can least afford to trust the people who should be most trustworthy, it stands to reason that confusion about trust results. The therapist must understand and not take offense either personally or professionally and not react judgmentally or defensively. Practically speaking, this involves the therapist being prepared to patiently and empathically respond to active or passive tests or challenges to trustworthiness as legitimate and meaningful communication that deserves a respectful reply in action as well as in words.
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