In This Article Intervention with Traumatized Populations

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

Social Work Intervention with Traumatized Populations
Cheryl Regehr
  • LAST REVIEWED: 06 May 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 June 2011
  • 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 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 Van der Kolk, et al. 1996. In addition it includes review articles on risk factors for developing traumatic responses (Brewin, et al. 2000), interventions (Ehlers and Clark 2003), and the psychobiology of traumatic stress, which is increasingly becoming an important factor in treatment approaches (Pole 2007, Yehuda 2002).

  • 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).

  • Ehlers, A., and D. Clark. 2003. Early psychological interventions for adult survivors of trauma: A review. Biological Psychiatry 53:817–826.

    DOI: 10.1016/S0006-3223(02)01812-7E-mail Citation »

    Reviews trials of early cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) after trauma.

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

    E-mail Citation »

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

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

    E-mail Citation »

    Now in its fourth edition, published in 2001, this is a foundational book outlining the concept of traumatic stress.

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

    E-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.

  • Pole, N. 2007. The psychophysiology of posttraumatic stress disorder: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin 133.5: 725–746.

    DOI: 10.1037/0033-2909.133.5.725E-mail Citation »

    One of the three clusters of symptoms for diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is hyperarousal. This paper provides a meta-analysis of a wide range of studies comparing psychophysiological arousal between individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder and controls. It confirms the association between post-traumatic stress disorder and hyperarousal responses.

  • 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. 2002. Clinical relevance of biologic findings in PTSD. Psychiatric Quarterly 73.2: 123–133.

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

    This article provides an excellent overview of research findings related to biological correlates to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The author deciphers the early 21st-century knowledge and describes the implications of the findings for the clinical presentation, symptom duration, and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.

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