Glossary of Terms
Access to care
The Institute of Medicine Committee on Monitoring Access to Medical Care defined access as timely use of personal health services to achieve the best possible health outcomes. There are a number of individual factors that determine access to care, including social factors, health beliefs, and personal health practices, as well as contextual factors such as health care policies and the organization and financing of health services.
The evaluation of an individual's development, behavior, intellect, interests, personality, cognitive processes, emotional functioning, and/or social functioning for the purpose of identifying needs. Assessment methods include interviewing, systematic observation, and psychometric testing.
Community violence refers to both predatory violence (e.g. robbery) and violence arising from non-family interpersonal conflicts and may include brutal acts such as shootings, rapes, stabbings, and beatings.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
A treatment approach that focuses both on observable behavior and on the thinking or beliefs that accompany the behavior. The goal of cognitive behavioral therapy is to replace maladaptive behaviors, thoughts, and beliefs with more adaptive ones.
Help that is sensitive and responsive to cultural differences. Mental health professionals are aware of the impact of their own culture and possess skills that help them provide services that are culturally appropriate in responding to people's unique cultural differences, such as race and ethnicity, national origin, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, or physical disability.
An approach that takes into account the growth and change of human beings as they age, including cognitive development, social development, language development, moral reasoning, and self and gender identity formation.
A disaster is defined as any natural catastrophe (e.g. tornado, hurricane, earthquake), or regardless of cause, any fire, flood, or explosion that causes damage of sufficient severity and magnitude to warrant the intervention of local, state, or federal agencies and disaster relief organizations.
Domestic violence is sometimes referred to as intimate partner violence, domestic abuse, or battering and includes actual or threatened physical or sexual violence or psychological and emotional abuse between adults in a child's home environment.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, is the official manual of mental health problems developed by the American Psychiatric Association. This reference book is used by psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and other health and mental health care providers to understand and diagnose a mental health problem. Insurance companies and health care providers also use the terms and definitions in this manual when they discuss mental health problems.
Evidence-based practices, sometimes referred to as empirically validated treatments or empirically supported therapy, are practices which have been clearly specified and found to be supported by scientific evidence.
Services, activities, or treatments developed and implemented to change or improve knowledge, attitudes, behavior, or awareness. Services, activities, or treatments developed and implemented to change or improve knowledge, attitudes, behavior, or awareness. Interventions are purposeful responses, which can be acute and provided either in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic event, or after an event has already occurred.
Medical trauma includes trauma associated with an injury or accident, chronic or life-threatening illness, or painful or invasive medical procedures.
Child neglect involves the failure to provide needed, age-appropriate care although financially able to do so, or offered financial or other means to do so. This includes physical neglect (e.g. deprivation of food, clothing, shelter), medical neglect (e.g. failure to provide child with access to needed medical or mental health treatments or to consistently administer prescribed medications), and educational neglect (e.g. withholding child from school, failure to attend to special education needs).
Physical abuse refers to actual or attempted infliction of bodily pain and/or injury, including the use of severe corporal punishment. Physical abuse is characterized by physical injury (for example, bruises and fractures) resulting from punching, beating, kicking, burning, or otherwise harming a child. In some cases, the injury may result from overdiscipline or physical punishment that is inappropriate to the child's age or condition.
Posttraumatic stress disorder
An anxiety disorder defined in the DSM-IV that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or experience in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Diagnostic criteria for PTSD include exposure to a traumatic event, re-experiencing of the event (e.g. nightmares, flashbacks), persistent avoidance of things associated with the trauma (e.g. avoiding certain activities, avoiding talking about the event), and increased physiological arousal. To meet diagnostic criteria for PTSD, an individual must exhibit a certain number of symptoms, for a duration of more than one month, and experience clinically significant distress or impairment.
Sometimes called emotional abuse, psychological maltreatment includes acts or omissions by parents or caregivers that have caused, or could cause, serious behavioral, cognitive, emotional, or mental disorders. Examples include verbal abuse (e.g. insults, belittling, threats of violence), bullying and the use of coercive control, emotional neglect (e.g. shunning, withdrawal of love), and intentional social deprivation (e.g. isolation, confinement).
Public health perspective
An approach that focuses on health promotion and disease prevention for the population at large. A public health perspective considers behavioral and environmental risk factors and targets primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention and intervention strategies to populations depending on their levels of risk.
Refugee trauma includes exposure to war, political violence or torture. Refugee trauma can be the result of living in a region affected by bombing, shooting, or looting, as well as forced displacement to a new home due to political reasons.
Indicators of school violence include fatal and nonfatal student victimization, nonfatal teacher victimization, students being threatened or injured with a weapon at school, fights at school, and students carrying weapons to school.
Child sexual abuse includes a wide range of sexual behaviors that take place between a child and an older person. Behaviors that are sexually abusive often involve bodily contact, such as in the case of sexual kissing, touching, fondling of genitals, and intercourse. However, behaviors may be sexually abusive even if they do not involve contact, such as in the case of genital exposure ("flashing"), verbal pressure for sex, and sexual exploitation for purposes of prostitution or pornography.
Standard of care
Current procedure and practice; generally agreed upon principles of practice.
The U.S. Department of Defense defines terrorism as "the calculated use of violence or the threat of violence to inculcate fear, intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological." Terrorism includes attacks by individuals acting in isolation (e.g. sniper attacks).
People, places, activities, internal sensations, or other things that trigger memories of a trauma experience. Trauma reminders can cause feelings of fear or distress or put people "on alert." Trauma reminders can "restart" posttraumatic stress reactions or behavior even years after a traumatic event has occurred.
Childhood traumatic grief occurs following the death of a loved one when the child objectively or subjectively perceives the experience as traumatic. The cause of death can be due to what is usually described as traumatic, such as an act of violence, accident, disaster, or war, or it can be due to natural causes. The hallmark of childhood traumatic grief is that trauma symptoms interfere with the child's ability to navigate the typical bereavement process.
A written guide with step-by-step instructions for conducting individual, family, or group treatment. Treatment manuals typically cover multiple sessions and describe the techniques used by the clinician, key elements of various phases of treatment, and activities to be done by the client/patient.
A glossary of terms related to child traumatic stress and children's mental health is also available from the National Mental Health Information Center of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services.