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Conway, F. Oster, M. Szymanski, K. (2011). ADHD and Complex Trauma: A Descriptive Study of Hospitalized Children in an Urban Psychiatric Hospital. J. Infant Child Adolesc. Psychother., 10(1):60-72.

(2011). Journal of Infant, Child & Adolescent Psychotherapy, 10(1):60-72

ADHD and Complex Trauma: A Descriptive Study of Hospitalized Children in an Urban Psychiatric Hospital

Francine Conway, Ph.D., Maria Oster, M.A. and Kate Szymanski, Ph.D

This paper embarks on a descriptive exploration of the relations between ADHD and Complex Trauma among children in an urban psychiatric hospital. To date, these two diagnostic categories have not been examined in concert. This study was based upon chart reviews of 79 children and adolescents who were receiving treatment at an urban children's psychiatric hospital. The Hospitalized Child and Adolescent Trauma and Psychopathology Questionnaire was completed for each participant and information regarding demographics, diagnosis, and complex trauma. Results showed ADHD children experience higher incidences of chronic stress, termed here as environmental trauma, and disruptions in attachment relationships referred to here as attachment trauma. We propose that experiences of chronic adverse situations during childhood, also referred to as complex trauma, cannot be extricated from ADHD symptomatology and is strongly correlated with behavior that is common among children who have deficits in psychological processes known as mentalization. Implications for development of a capacity to mentalize with ADHD children are discussed.

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