Complex Trauma Resources

Resources for Youth

What is Complex Trauma: A Resource Guide for Youth and Those Who Care About Them (2017) (PDF)
This Guide was developed for youth who have experienced, or know someone who has experienced, Complex Trauma. Older youth, adolescents, and young adults can explore the information in this Guide on their own to help make sense of their experiences and understand themselves better. Clinicians, caregivers, and other adults can also use the Guide to have conversations with youth about what Complex Trauma is, how it can impact them, coping strategies that can help and those that can cause problems, and strategies for making things better. 

Complex Trauma Fact Sheets

Complex Trauma: Facts for Directors, Administrators, and Staff in Residential Settings (2016) (PDF)
Beginning with a case example, this 6-page fact sheet gives information for staff in Residential Treatment Centers (RTCs) on how to understand behavior through a trauma lens, as well as specific recommendations for directors and administrators on trauma-informed residential policies, staff training and self-care, and the developmental and educational needs of youth.

Complex Trauma: Facts for Treatment Staff in Residential Settings (2016) (PDF)
This 4-page fact sheet details the importance of a holistic, multidisciplinary, multi-level approach to addressing the needs of youth with complex trauma in Residential Treatment settings. The fact sheet offers general guidelines for treatment providers in RTCs, challenging them to “avoid a . . . view of youth behavior that is limited solely to behavior management.”

Complex Trauma: In Urban African-American Children, Youth, and Families (2017) (PDF)
This 4-page fact sheet discusses how families living in racially and economically segregated communities must also cope with the effects of historical trauma and intergenerational racism, and presents the specific barriers that African-Americans face in obtaining needed services. Finally, the fact sheet presents ideas for providers on building supportive relationships with African-American children and families who have experienced complex trauma.
Complex Trauma: In Juvenile Justice System-Involved Youth (2017) (PDF)
This 7-page fact sheet delineates the path from complex trauma exposure to involvement in the juvenile justice system; describes the “survival-oriented coping” that youth adopt to manage their lives; and explores the many challenges these youth face in managing their emotions, physical responses, and impulses. The fact sheet presents recommendations for judges and juvenile justice program administrators, parents and family members, and adults who supervise youth.

Complex Trauma: Facts for Service Providers Working with Homeless Youth and Young Adults (2014) (PDF)
Offers information on how to support teens and young adults who are homeless and may have experienced multiple traumas.

Complex Trauma: Facts for Shelter Staff Working with Homeless Children and Families (2014) (PDF)
Guides shelter staff in how best to support the homeless children and families with whom they work.

Complex Trauma: Facts for Caregivers (2014) (PDF)
Helps parents and caregivers recognize the signs and symptoms of complex trauma and offers recommendations on how to help children heal.

Complex Trauma: Facts for Educators (2014) (PDF)
Explains the ways complex trauma may affect learning and offers recommendations for educators to support students and take care of themselves. 

Addititonal Resources

Remembering Trauma: Connecting the Dots between Complex Trauma and Misdiagnosis in Youth
This short film (16 minutes) highlights the story of a traumatized youth from early childhood to older adolescence illustrating his trauma reactions and interactions with various service providers (including probation officer, school counselor, and therapist). This product was created to support the critical importance of using a trauma lens in your work within child-serving systems and the potentially detrimental impact of not incorporating a trauma framework.

Complex Trauma Speaker Series 
Featuring experts from the NCTSN, this series includes presentations on the neurobiology of complex trauma, assessment and treatment planning, and a wide range of evidence-based interventions. All presentations are available for free through the NCTSN Learning Center for Child and Adolescent Trauma, and continuing education credits are available.

Polyvictimization and Complex Trauma: Understanding Special Populations, Enhancing Multidisciplinary Responses to Polyvictimization
This webinar series, a collaborative effort between the OVC National Action Partnership on Polyvictimization and the NCTSN Complex Trauma Workgroup and Complex Trauma Treatment Network, focuses on complex trauma and polyvictimization as they affect a wide range of populations and offers useful tools to a broad range of professionals, including educators, mental health workers, law enforcement, judicial personnel, and child welfare workers.

Complex Trauma in Children and Adolescents (2003) (PDF)
The original white paper on this topic developed by the NCTSN Complex Trauma Task Force.

Complex Trauma in Children and Adolescents (2007) (PDF)
This article appeared in the winter 2007 issue of the journal Focal Point. It is an adaptation and update of the Network white paper listed above. Click here to access the article. Focal Point is a publication of the Research and Training Center on Family Support and Children's Mental Health.

Complex Trauma in the NCTSN (PDF)
Results of an NCTSN survey on complex trauma exposure, outcomes, and treatment approaches for impacted children and their families who received intervention and/or comprehensive assessment services in 2002.