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Unit 5A/55 Lathlain St, Belconnen

Research

The ‘‘HEALTH’’ model – Part 1: treatment program guidelines for Complex PTSD
Pam K. Connor and Daryl J. Higgins
Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia; Australian Institute of Family Studies, Melbourne, Australia
(Received 21 May 2008; final version received 11 July 2008)

This paper outlines the development and piloting of the ‘‘HEALTH’’ model for treatment of Complex PTSD in clients who have experienced multiple traumas across childhood and adulthood – particularly child sexual abuse and sexual assault in adulthood. As a guideline-based treatment model, HEALTH outlines six stages of intervention: (1) having a supportive therapist; (2) ensuring personal safety; (3) assisting with daily functioning; (4) self-regulation – learning to manage core PTSD symptoms; (5) treating Complex PTSD symptoms; and, finally, (6) having patience and persistence to enable ‘‘ego strengthening’’. Using a case study approach, we provide both qualitative and quantitative assessment data for the individuals in the study, all of whom displayed numerous pre-treatment symptoms of Complex PTSD. Such programs are different to standard PTSD treatment programs that focus predominantly on core PTSD symptoms of re-experiencing, avoidance and arousal. The results of this study provided support for the use of guideline-based treatment programs that cater specifically for the needs of those who have suffered long-term/multiple trauma experiences by targeting Complex PTSD symptoms. Keywords: Complex PTSD; therapy; treatment guidelines; multiple traumas Complete Paper

Sexual and Relationship Therapy Vol. 23, No. 4, November 2008, 293–303


Case Report

The ‘‘HEALTH’’ model – Part 2: case study of a guideline-based treatment program for Complex PTSD relating to childhood sexual abuse

Pam Connor and Daryl John Higgins

Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia; Australian Institute of Family Studies, Melbourne, Australia

(Received 29 July 2008; final version received 30 July 2008)

This study outlines some of the practical issues for practitioners in the use of a guidelinebased treatment program: HEALTH (Connor & Higgins, 2008). Issues are explored using a case study of a 23-year-old woman who had multiple trauma experiences throughout her childhood and who was diagnosed with Complex PTSD (CP). The objective of the treatment program was ‘‘ego strengthening’’ and reduction of CPspecific symptomatology. Through this, the aim was to increase her capacity for eventual exploration and working through of her early abuse. The use of the HEALTH treatment guidelines with this case allowed for an individualised focus, with the program being tailored to meet the client’s needs. A major positive outcome of the treatment program was that the client reported improvements in all CP symptoms identified at the outset and reported being more capable of undertaking work directly related to the earlier abuse issues. A case study is used to explore issues for practitioners in implementing this guideline-based treatment program. The case study demonstrates that – in addition to focusing on core-PTSD symptoms undertaking therapeutic work to address directly the abuse issues – there are important the benefits for clients when CPspecific symptoms are addressed directly, as outlined in the HEALTH model. Keywords: the HEALTH model; Complex PTSD; therapy; multiple traumas; childhood sexual abuse Introduction Complete Paper Sexual and Relationship Therapy Vol. 23, No. 4, November 2008, 401–410