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Teacher and Student

Resources > Developmental Trauma

Developmental Trauma

Developmental Trauma is a proposed diagnosis first advocated by Bessel van der Kolk and colleagues in 2005. When children are hurt by the relationships that are supposed to keep them safe, their development becomes impaired in predictable ways in different developmental domains and across the life span.

Developmental Domains impacted by developmental trauma.

1. ATTACHMENT:  Difficulties with trusting others, perspective taking, social isolation, empathy.

2. BIOLOGY: Difficulties identifying and regulating physical states, somatic problems, problems with balance and coordination.

3. AFFECT REGULATION: Difficulties identifying, regulating and communicating emotional states.

4. DISSOCIATION: Variable access to states of consciousness; impaired memory for events occurring in particular states.

5. BEHAVIOURAL CONTROL: Poor impulse control, self-destructive, difficulty self-soothing, oppositional behaviours, re-enactments of past traumas.

6. COGNITION: Difficulties in attention, lack of curiosity, learning difficulties, speech/language problems, processing novel information, reflective functioning.

7. SELF-CONCEPT: Lack of continuity in sense of self; negative self-concept and high level of shame; poor body image.

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