First Advisor

Dave Fischer

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Psychology and University Honors




Post-traumatic stress disorder in children, Psychic trauma in children




In 2005 The Complex Trauma Task force, which is part of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, constructed diagnostic criteria for a new diagnosis: Developmental Trauma Disorder (DTD). DTD serves as a more precise, accurate, and specific diagnosis for children and adolescents who’ve experienced multiple exposures to one or more developmentally adverse interpersonal traumas, which affect multiple areas of functioning and cause extreme interruptions in developmental processes throughout the course of one’s life. A diagnosis of DTD describes the immense impairments and distress that characterize individuals living with developmental trauma, and provides clinicians a foundation and trauma-informed framework for working with effective therapeutic modalities specific to their client’s needs. Although the construction of DTD is founded on clinical observations, empirical data, and over twenty years of literature and research on developmental psychopathology, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) declined the proposal to include the diagnosis in its most recent version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5 (DSM-5), published in 2013. Included in this paper is a literature review intended to provide background information on DTD, explain the importance of having the diagnosis included in the DSM and the implications of its absence, and present some effective therapeutic practices for developmental trauma.


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