Article Title

Adult survivors of childhood trauma: Complex trauma, complex needs


Background: Childhood trauma is common and can have profound consequences throughout a person’s life. Adult survivors of childhood abuse pose a number of challenges for general practitioners (GPs). The diagnosis of their medical and psychiatric illnesses is complex; the therapeutic relationship can be both delicate and critical to recovery; and the treatments are varied, often expensive and frequently inaccessible.

Objective: The aim of this article is to provide a conceptual framework for the assessment and management of an adult survivor of childhood adversity.

Discussion: GPs can be effective and facilitate recovery-orientated, trauma-focused care, even when local services are limited. This model considers the person’s presenting symptoms and the consultation interaction, and it is applicable regardless of diagnosis. Key principles include listening and engaging to understand why the person is presenting in this way, and approaching care in a targeted and collaborative manner. This can alleviate emotional distress for the patient, GP and care team.


childhood trauma, adult survivors, assessment, management, trauma-focused care, recovery-orientated, general practitioners (GPs)

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