Trauma treatment: Issues for specific populations
When it comes to trauma, women are affected by specific issues related to their gender, such as violence against women, sexual abuse, women's role in the family and in society, women's mental health issues, childbearing and mothering, and sexism.
For an overview of some of these issues, see the online public information brochure Women: What Do These Signs Have in Common?
Trauma treatment should also acknowledge the impact of women's unique experiences and needs.
Many adolescent women are dealing with a number of complex issues related to trauma when they access the mental health or addiction systems, including substance use problems, depression, eating disorders and a history of violence including physical, emotional and sexual abuse.
Young women speak about sexual abuse in Hear Me, Understand Me, Support Me: What Young Women Want You to Know about Depression.
The U.S. National Child Traumatic Stress Network provides information about what causes child traumatic stress, how it affects a child, and what can be done about it. The website also contains information about school-based intervention programs, including early, intermediate and long-term recovery services.
A research review by the Task Force on Community Preventive Services suggests that cognitive therapy (rather than drug, art or play therapy) may be the most effective trauma therapy for children.
Literature on the topic notes that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has scarcely been researched in the elderly and there is no population-based information on prevalence and risk factors in this population. In addition, older adults with PTSD are often not recognized or incorrectly diagnosed. The U.S. government is currently conducting the first randomized clinical trial of psychotherapy for older veterans with PTSD. It will compare relaxation training (RT) to prolonged exposure therapy (PE). The project will also examine whether cognitive impairment influences psychotherapy outcome.
People who come from countries with conflict or disaster
Some refugees and other newcomers have left countries where they have experienced or witnessed natural disasters, war, conflict, sexual abuse, political conflict, military duty, bombings, displacement, the disappearance of family members or torture. Some have lived through many years, even generations, of political unrest and a constant fear of crises. For an overview of PTSD in this population, see CAMH's public information brochure on PTSD for refugees and new immigrants.
CAMH has a photo-novella (story in photographs) for clients that depicts a refugee child's trauma response (PDF only), published in English, French, Portuguese, Spanish and Tamil.
Also see Eva Saphir's chapter "Trauma Work with Latin-American Women in Canada" in Working with Immigrant Women: Issues and Strategies for Mental Health Professionals (CAMH).
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website includes a section on secondary mental health treatment following disasters.
- The Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma is a leader in the care of traumatized refugees and civilians living in areas of conflict and natural disasters.
- Helping Refugee Trauma Survivors in the Primary Care Setting is a clinical resource produced by the U.S. Center for Victims of Torture meant for primary health care providers working with refugees or other survivors of war trauma and torture.