Clinical Psychology 2 (2009), 1-2, 53-74


Traumatic Events and Trauma in Children and Youth

Bruna Profaca - Child and Youth Protection Center of Zagreb, Zagreb
Lidija Arambašić - Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb, Zagreb

Fulltext (croatian, pages 53-74).pdf

As the understanding of children and youth’s reactions to traumatic events has improved over the last several decades it has become clear that they have a formative impact in childhood. Traumatic experiences change a child’s internal image of the world and shape its self-understanding and understanding of others, they create expectations of the future which affect both the child/youth’s actual behavior and future experiences. The most important outcome of traumatic experiences is that they have an impact on the expectations of the world and safety of living with other people, as well as on the sense of self-integrity. This article gives an overview of the key notions in child traumatic psychology concerning the history of studying childhood trauma, its effects on children’s development and the existing classifications of childhood traumatic events (child abuse and neglect within the family and other traumatic events). Further on, there is a discussion of specific issues regarding the traumatization of children and youth which question the validity of posttraumatic stress disorder in children and youth and introduce the notion of complex trauma in child traumatic psychology. Methodological problems of studying trauma in children and youth are also discussed. An improved understanding of children and youth’s exposure to various forms of traumatization and their consequences enables us to better define the need for intervention. Therefore, this article aims to emphasize the implications of the empirical research of childhood trauma, which can be observed in several areas, including the understanding of the functioning and impact of a traumatic experience, the identification of children and youth exposed to traumatic events and the development of more efficacious intervention and treatment measures and a social support network for traumatized children/youth.

traumatic event, childhood trauma, child abuse, children, youth

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