In This Article Intervention with Traumatized Populations

  • Introduction
  • Introductory Works
  • Textbooks
  • Manuals and Guidebooks
  • Bibliographies
  • Journals
  • Empirical Reviews of Studies on Trauma Treatment

Social Work Intervention with Traumatized Populations
Cheryl Regehr, Stefan Treffers
  • LAST REVIEWED: 06 May 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 July 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389678-0130


This entry identifies materials from the social work, psychology, and psychiatry literature on the treatment of individuals who have experienced trauma. Individual response to distressing events is highly varied. Several studies have demonstrated that rates of trauma exposure over the life course are between 60 and 80 percent, but rates of experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are only 5 to 8 percent. The reported lifetime prevalence for post-traumatic stress disorder in the general population of the United States is reported to be 5 percent for men and 10 percent for women. Traumatic stress is reported in a wide variety of populations, including victims of shared events, such as wars, terrorist attacks, and natural disasters, and victims of highly personalized events, such as sexual assault or torture. Certain occupational groups are frequently identified as vulnerable to post-traumatic stress disorder by virtue of their repeated exposure to gruesome events, such as emergency responders or military personnel. Given the wide range of individuals who experience trauma responses, considerable study and effort has gone into the development and evaluation of trauma treatment.

Introductory Works

This section includes important foundational literature works on the nature of trauma reactions and treatment for trauma. These keys works include Herman 1997, Horowitz 1976, Lindemann 1944, McCann and Pearlman 1990, and Straussner and Calnan 2014, Van der Kolk, et al. 1996. In addition it includes reviews on risk factors for developing traumatic responses (Brewin, et al. 2000; Straussner and Calnan 2014), and the psychobiology of traumatic stress (Yehuda 2006).

  • Brewin, C. R., B. Andrews, and J. D. Valentine. 2000. Meta-analysis of risk factors for posttraumatic stress disorder in trauma-exposed adults. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 68.5: 748–766.

    DOI: 10.1037/0022-006X.68.5.748E-mail Citation »

    Wide-ranging studies examine risk factors for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This paper provides a useful meta-analysis to determine the relative moderating effects of pretrauma characteristics (demographics and previous trauma exposure) and posttrauma factors (trauma severity and social supports).

  • Herman, Judith L. 1997. Trauma and recovery. New York: Basic Books.

    E-mail Citation »

    Describes the potentially devastating effects of violence on victims and strategies for intervention.

  • Horowitz, Mardi J. 1976. Stress response syndromes. New York: Jason Aronson.

    E-mail Citation »

    This is a foundational book outlining the concept of traumatic stress. Updated versions include Stress Response Syndromes: PTSD, Grief and Adjustment Disorders (Northvale, NJ: Aronson, 1997) and Stress Response Syndromes: Personality Styles and Interventions (Northvale, NJ: Aronson, 2001)

  • Lindemann, Erich. 1944. Symptomatology and management of acute grief. American Journal of Psychiatry 101:141–148.

    DOI: 10.1176/ajp.101.2.141E-mail Citation »

    Published shortly after the Cocoanut Grove fire, this article gives an excellent descriptive account of the symptomatology of acute grief and trauma response as well as a discussion of the principles involved in its management.

  • McCann, I. Lisa, and Laurie Anne Pearlman. 1990. Psychological trauma and the adult survivor: Theory, therapy, and transformation. New York: Brunner Mazel.

    E-mail Citation »

    An introduction to the concept of self-schema theory as it relates to psychological trauma.

  • Straussner, S. L., and A. J. Calnan. 2014. Trauma through the life cycle: A review of current literature. Clinical Social Work Journal 42.4: 323–335.

    DOI: 10.1007/s10615-014-0496-zE-mail Citation »

    This literature review provides an overview of common traumatic responses encountered across the life cycle as well as accompanying treatment approaches that are specific to different life stages.

  • Van der Kolk, Bessel A., Alexander C. McFarlane, and Lars Weisaeth, eds. 1996. Traumatic stress: The effects of overwhelming experience on mind, body, and society. New York: Guilford.

    E-mail Citation »

    As rape is now viewed as one of the archetypal events leading to post-traumatic stress disorder, this book provides an excellent grounding in concepts of etiology, consequences, and possible treatments for traumatic stress.

  • Yehuda, Rachel. 2006. Psychobiology of posttraumatic stress disorder: A decade of progress. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1071:110–124.

    DOI: 10.1023/A:1015055711424E-mail Citation »

    This volume is an outstanding resource containing cutting-edge work edited by Rachel Yehuda, a leading scholar in the field.

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