March Book of the Month- Beyond PTSD: Helping and Healing Teens Exposed to Trauma

Posted on 2 March 2022

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Our March Book of the Month is Beyond PTSD: Helping and Healing Teens Exposed to Trauma. Access the book now.

About the book

Engaging and working with teenagers is tough. Typically, we attribute this to the storms of adolescence. But what if some of the particularly problematic behaviours we see in teens self-destructive behaviours, academic issues, substance abuse, reluctance to engage in therapy or treatment point to unspoken trauma?

Teens struggle with traumatic stress related to poverty, abuse, neglect, bullying, traumatic loss, and interpersonal or community violence. But youth are also generally reluctant to disclose or discuss experiences of traumatic stress, and adults working with these youth may not immediately perceive the connection between prior trauma and the teens current risky or concerning behaviour. Beyond PTSD: Helping and Healing Teens Exposed to Trauma helps adults recognise and understand traumatised youth, and provides concrete strategies for talking to and engaging the teen, overcoming resistance, and finding the most appropriate evidence-based treatment approach for them.

Nearly twenty contributors pull from their extensive and varied experience working in schools and hospitals to child welfare programs, juvenile justice facilities, paediatric offices, and with families to provide concrete tips to manage the challenges and opportunities of working with trauma-exposed adolescents. Chapters present trauma-informed approaches to youth with aggression, suicide and self-injury, psychosis, and school refusal; youth with physical or developmental disabilities or medical comorbidities, those in juvenile justice or child welfare; teen parents; and LGBTQ youth, among others.

The second part focuses on working with traumatised adolescents in different systems, from schools and hospitals to juvenile justice facilities, paediatric offices, and even within families.

Throughout the text, tables compare different types of trauma therapies and provide information about how treatments might be adapted to fit a specific teen or setting. Readers will also find real life case vignettes and concrete, specific clinical pearls even examples of language to use to demonstrate how to work effectively with difficult-to-engage teens with complex symptoms and behaviours.

Written to be practical and accessible for clinicians, social workers, paediatricians, school counsellors, and even parents, with the information, context, and strategies they need to help the teen in front of them.


“This is a first-class compilation of accessible, compassionate, and expert guidance on understanding and supporting traumatized young people and their families. Beyond PTSD provides a superb foundational understanding of the impact of trauma on adolescent development, with detailed chapters addressing common specific challenging behaviors in traumatized youth and explicit strategies for the systems and settings these youth occupy to better help them. The rolling case-based approach in each chapter skillfully lays out the practical approaches to helping these young people overcome their challenges, making this work useful to a broad range of stakeholders, including clinicians, educational, child welfare and juvenile justice workers, and families.” 

Jennifer F. Havens, M.D., Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, NYU Langone Medical Center. 

“Over the past 20 years there has been a rapidly growing body of research and increasing public and professional awareness of the critical role that traumatic life experiences, especially those during childhood, play in subse­quent illness and behavioural problems. This book edited by Gerson and Heppell provides a comprehensive overview of this accumulating knowl­edge and how to integrate this new knowledge into care for children and adolescents presenting with serious mental health crises. By listening and addressing the stressors and life circumstances driving these psychological crises, health care professionals can begin to treat sources of pain rather than just focusing on symptoms. This trauma-informed approach leads more often to healing than to the revolving door of psychiatric crises and symptom-focused short-term interventions.” 

David L. Corwin, M.D., Professor and Director of Forensic Services, Pediatrics Department, University of Utah School of Medicine; Presi­dent, American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children; Imme­diate Past Board Chair of the Academy on Violence and Abuse.

Access the book now.