Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Clinicians' perspectives on assessing older adults with early life trauma
by Chak, Kam Keung Felix, Psy.D., California Institute of Integral Studies, 2016, 187; 10117915
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this study is to explore clinicians’ perspectives on assessing older adults with early life trauma. While research has shown that traumatic experiences are common in childhood and early adulthood, there has been a dearth of research on the perspectives of clinicians working with older adults with early life trauma. In this current study, the researcher interviewed 8 licensed clinicians with an average of 11 years of clinical experience working under varying professional licenses. Utilizing grounded theory methodology, semi-structured interviews were conducted to answer the primary research question: What are the experiences, insights, and reflections of clinicians on assessing older adults with early life trauma? A grounded theory of barriers and corresponding strategies for assessing older adults with early life trauma was developed from data derived from the interview transcripts of 8 participants. Two categories and 7 subcategories were identified and saturated with 24 major codes and 3 minor codes. The category impact of childhood trauma in late life was determined to be the context of the grounded theory. The context elaborates the prevalence and common types of early life trauma of older adults, its relationship with the aging process, and its impact on mental health. The results indicate there are 6 barriers to assessing early life trauma that can be categorized into two groups: (a) older adult’s factors and (b) clinician’s factors. In order to tackle these barriers, 9 corresponding strategies proposed by the participants were categorized into three groups: (a) relationship building, (b) information gathering, and (c) knowledge acquiring. The results of this study provide evidence that posttraumatic stress symptoms may emerge or re-emerge in older adults with mental health issues. This is the first study from clinicians’ perspectives to point out the barriers and corresponding strategies for assessment of early life trauma in older adults. The emergent theory is not a traditional theoretical model, but rather provides practical guidelines for clinicians to be more prepared for the challenges of assessing the early life trauma of older adults.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Puhakka, Kaisa
Commitee: Bersing, Doris
School: California Institute of Integral Studies
Department: Clinical Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 77/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Psychology, Clinical psychology
Keywords: Assessment, Clinician perspective, Complex PTSD, Early life trauma, Elderly, Older adult
Publication Number: 10117915
ISBN: 978-1-339-79286-6
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