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CPS and Complex Trauma

Congratulations to our colleagues, Drs. Holmes, Stokes, and Gathright, for their publication of a case series describing their use of Collaborative Problem Solving (CPS) on an inpatient unit with children who have experienced complex trauma. We have been focusing a lot lately on the applications of CPS to treating traumatized children thanks to our collaboration with Dr. Bruce Perry and the Child Trauma Academy. In many ways, CPS operationalizes what trauma-informed care is intended to be:

  • a compassionate and accurate understanding of the impact of trauma on brain development (lagging skills and triggering situations)
  • a movement away from power and control (Plan A) to a collaborative and relational process (Plan B) that reduces the power differential, gives the child control but not sole responsibility, and helps to detoxify triggering situations slowly over time time

The authors of this recent paper also emphasize that CPS provides a common philosophy, language and process with clear, replicable guidelines that can be used by non-mental health professionals as well (teachers, foster parents etc.) – a rarity amongst clinical approaches for working with traumatized children. The benefit of course is that when children like the ones they described working with leave the hospital there can be seamless transitions and continuity of care.


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