Systemic traumatic stress: The couple adaptation to traumatic stress model

Briana S.Nelson Goff, Douglas B. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

143 Scopus citations


Research traditionally has focused on the development of symptoms in those who experienced trauma directly but overlooked the impact of trauma on the families of victims. In recent years, researchers and clinicians have begun to examine how individual exposure to traumatic stress affects the spouses/partners, children, and professional helpers of trauma survivors. However, empirically supported, theory-based literature that identifies the mechanisms by which interpersonal or "secondary trauma" occurs in response to traumatic events is limited. Here, we present the Couple Adaptation to Traumatic Stress Model, a systemic model of the development of interpersonal symptoms in the couple dyad based on empirical literature. Potential mechanisms and clinical vignettes are included to describe the systemic processes that occur with trauma couples. Areas for future research and clinical implications also are identified.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-157
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Marital and Family Therapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2005


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