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Glossary of Terms

Complex Trauma

For Experts

  • Currently not a diagnosis in the DSM or ICD.
  • Psychological trauma resulting from exposure to multiple traumatic events or a single prolonged traumatic event, particularly when the event was difficult to escape, such as repeated childhood sexual or physical abuse, prolonged domestic violence, torture, slavery, genocide campaigns (Greeson, Briggs, Kisiel, Layne,  Ake, Ko, Gerrity, Steinberg, Howard, Pynoos, & Fairbank, 2011; Briere & Scott, 2015; National Child Traumatic Stress Network, 2019).
  • Can result in mental health conditions, including but not limited to, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and C-PTSD, depending on the severity of the response to the initial exposure.
  • Often mistakenly used interchangeably with C- PTSD, but Complex Trauma would be a causal experience that may lead to C-PTSD.

For General Public

  • Currently not a diagnosis in the DSM or ICD.
  • Severe psychological trauma resulting from severe types of potentially psychologically traumatic events.
  • Often used in conversations interchangeably with C-PTSD.

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