Trauma Education Essentials
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Book Reviews

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Book reviews written by Dana Ross, MD, MSc, FRCPC. 

'It's Not You, It's What Happened To You' by Christine Courtois, PhD

Courtois has written a short, clearly-written and useful book that provides an explanation of what is meant by the term 'complex trauma.' She starts by explaining the various terms that are often used to describe different types of trauma and provides a brief snapshot of different attachment styles. Her next chapter discusses the emotional turmoil that can occur in complex trauma, including shame, guilt, anger, depression, numbness, fear and anxiety. 

My favourite chapter is number three where she discusses memory, flashbacks, and the impact that trauma can have on a person's relationship with self and others. Her explanations are so crisp and on point that I think this will become required reading for my learners.

She then talks about co-morbidities that are common such as depression, anxiety, various addictions, and self-harming. Finally she ends by providing an overview of assessment and different types of treatment for complex trauma. 

I don't have a lot of deep thoughts about this book. Courtois' ability to articulate complicated concepts in manageable soundbites is impressive. It was helpful to me to read some of her explanations because now I can explain some trauma-related ideas in a less complicated and more straightforward manner. In fact, since imitation is the greatest form of flattery, I'm going to keep my review short and sweet. I'll end by saying that if you're looking for an explanation of complex trauma that is concise and easy to read; stop, drop what you're doing, and get this book!

Dana RossComment