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Leading Trauma Expert Highlights the Importance of Spirituality in Psychotherapy for Trauma Victims in New Book

Christine A. Courtois, PhD, ABPP, national clinical trauma consultant for Elements Behavioral Health, co-edits a newly released book titled Spiritually Oriented Psychotherapy for Trauma.

Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) Oct. 6, 2014 – Christine A. Courtois, PhD, ABPP, a licensed psychologist in independent practice in Washington DC and the national clinical trauma consultant for Elements Behavioral Health, is the co-editor, along with Donald F. Walker, PhD, and Jamie D. Aten, PhD, of the just-released book Spiritually Oriented Psychotherapy for Trauma.

Spiritually Oriented Psych_RGBWhile survivors of trauma will be able to glean a great deal from the book, it is primarily a guide for therapists. Research indicates that many therapists are not very oriented toward spirituality and spiritual issues in their own lives and don’t know how to bring them up in psychotherapy since these issues were not included in professional training for many. Some therapists even think doing so is unethical and not within the domain of psychotherapy. However, this view is challenged here as these are important issues for traumatized individuals as well as other clients who have indicated a need to discuss them as part of their overall treatment.

“It really behooves therapists to ask about spirituality and, if it’s an area of interest or concern for the client, to try to address it with the recognition that religious orientation and belief systems may be very different between the therapist and the client,” says Dr. Courtois. If the therapist is unaware of the tradition that the client comes from or believes in, she recommends that they get educated or find ways to encourage the client to talk about it so it can be included in the therapy.

In addition to editing the book, Dr. Courtois wrote the introduction and conclusion with her two co-editors and wrote two chapters. One addresses ethical issues in treatment and the other looks at spiritual dimensions and distress that originate in experiences of complex trauma, an area she has specialized in. Complex trauma often begins in childhood, with child abuse or other attachment disturbances, and impacts an individual’s development in many different areas, including spirituality.

“A lot of trauma survivors ask questions like ‘Why God, why me? If there is a God, where is He or She and why was this allowed to happen? Is God punishing me or has God abandoned me?’” says Dr. Courtois. “They also define much of their identity and their relationships based on what happened to them. They might also have their view of God or the Divine in ways that are associated with their trauma experiences.”

The key takeaway in the book, according to Dr. Courtois, is: “Spiritual healing is possible and is within the domain of holistic trauma treatment. Trauma (especially when interpersonal and repeated) is, by its very nature dispiriting, and it challenges or deprives individuals of self-worth, trust in others (including the Divine) and personal meaning. Yet, it can also intensify meaning, either at the time of the trauma where it may function as a resource, or later where it may provide existential insights and reasons for living. In either case, trauma has a profound impact, but it’s an impact that can be addressed through spiritually oriented psychotherapy that addresses the wounds of trauma.”

Spiritually Oriented Psychotherapy for Trauma is available through the American Psychological Association at 800-374-2721, or on the Web at www.APA.org/pubs/books.

About Dr. Courtois

Dr. Christine Courtois is an authority in the treatment of trauma, having worked in this area for over 35 years. She is a board certified counseling psychologist in independent practice in Washington DC where she also co-founded and co-directed an inpatient and day hospital trauma treatment program for 16 years. Dr. Courtois has organized the development of practice guidelines for the treatment of complex trauma for three professional organizations and has been appointed chair of the American Psychological Association’s Guideline Development Panel for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder to produce evidence-based practice guidelines set for release in 2015.

Dr. Courtois has written or co-edited eight books on the treatment of incest, child sexual abuse, complex traumatic stress disorders and other types of trauma, including Spiritually-Oriented Treatment for Trauma. She is past president of Division 56, Trauma Psychology, of the American Psychological Association and past founding co-editor of its journal, Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice and Policy. As national clinical trauma consultant for Elements Behavioral Health, she is developing integrated trauma-informed addiction treatment programs to promote sustainable recovery.

About Elements Behavioral Health

Elements Behavioral Health is a family of behavioral health care programs that includes Promises Treatment Centers, The Ranch, The Recovery Place, Lucida Treatment Center, Clarity Way, Journey Healing Centers, The Sundance Center, the Sexual Recovery Institute, Right Step and COPAC. Elements offers comprehensive, innovative treatment for substance abuse, sexual addiction, trauma, eating disorders and other mental health disorders. We are committed to delivering clinically sophisticated treatment that promotes permanent lifestyle change, not only for the patient but for the entire family system. For more information about Elements Behavioral Health, visit www.elementsbehavioralhealth.com.

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