Phenomenology and psychological assessment of complex posttraumatic states


  • John Briere,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California
    • Psychological Trauma Program, LAC + USC Medical Center, 2020 Zonal Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90033
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  • Joseph Spinazzola

    1. The Trauma Center, Division of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine & National Child Traumatic Stress Network, Boston, Massachusetts
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The authors offer a framework for the assessment of psychological responses associated with exposure to early onset, multiple, or extended traumatic stressors. Six prominent and overlapping symptoms clusters are described: altered self-capacities, cognitive symptoms, mood disturbance, overdeveloped avoidance responses, somatoform distress, and posttraumatic stress. A strategy for the structured, psychometrically valid assessment of these outcomes is introduced, and specific recommendations for use of various generic and trauma-specific child and adult measures are provided. Implications of trauma assessment for treatment planning are discussed.