Psychology, Professional

Date of Paper/Work


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.)

Type of Paper/Work

Doctoral Project


Nathaniel Nelson; Tatyana Ramirez


Various approaches to the understanding, conceptualization, and treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) have arisen throughout the history of psychotherapy. In the general population, epidemiological studies have indicated that while trauma exposure is quite common, the development of PTSD is far less common. However, certain populations, such as incarcerated women, are often at increased risk of extended histories of recurrent trauma exposure, which may increase risk of what has been described as “complex trauma”. In addition to a wide range of events that may be considered traumatic, complex trauma also factors in age of onset, nature of the event, and chronicity. Complex trauma is often interpersonal, unrelenting, typically begins in childhood, and has been associated with a symptom presentation that may not be fully encapsulated by a PTSD diagnosis (e.g., impaired self-regulation, poor interpersonal relationships, and identity problems). A conceptualization of complex trauma and subsequent effective treatment of complex PTSD with incarcerated women appears to be lacking. Research on the appropriate treatment of PTSD has primarily focused on single incidences of trauma and with the general population. This project examines the current literature on complex trauma and the treatment of complex PTSD with incarcerated women. An original contribution to practice is also provided in the form of a proposed therapy group curriculum that might be implemented with women survivors of complex trauma in the prison system.


incarcerated women, complex trauma

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.