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Abstract

The self and attachment difficulties associated with chronic childhood abuse and other forms of pervasive trauma must be understood and addressed in the context of the therapeutic relationship for healing to extend beyond resolution of traditional psychiatric symptoms and skill deficits. The authors integrate contemporary research and theory about attachment and complex developmental trauma, including dissociation, and apply it to psychotherapy of complex trauma, especially as this research and theory inform the therapeutic relationship. Relevant literature on complex trauma and attachment is integrated with contemporary trauma theory as the background for discussing relational issues that commonly arise in this treatment, highlighting common challenges such as forming a therapeutic alliance, managing frame and boundaries, and working with dissociation and reenactments.