Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)


Social Work

First Advisor

Michael Chovanec


Social Work


Complex trauma in early childhood has the ability to impact a child’s development in multiple domains, thus influencing development throughout the rest of their life. The purpose of this study was to explore best practices with children who have experienced complex trauma from the perspective of mental health professionals, with a focus on children between the ages of three and five. Qualitative interviews were conducted with six mental health professionals who were asked to discuss the presentation, interventions, and outcomes of a case where the child experienced complex trauma. Consistent with previous literature, all participants in this study reported self-regulation deficits and relational impairments for the case they discussed. Additionally, all six participants utilized play therapy and expressed the importance of collaboration with other adults and systems in the child’s life in order for treatment to be successful, exemplifying the need to utilize an ecological approach. Other practices used by professionals included Cognitive Behavioral Therapies, feelings/emotion interventions, EMDR, and relational interventions such as including the parents/caregivers in treatment, addressing the attachment needs, and coaching parents. Overall, participants utilize a combination of approaches and interventions in order to provide best practices, always emphasizing safety, attachment, and development.

Included in

Social Work Commons