AMHCA Home Studies

The Importance of Intentionality in Untangling Trauma From Severe Mental Illness 

10-17-2018 16:48

Sunni S. Lutton

Jacqueline M. Swank

Trauma has become entangled and largely lost in the conceptualization and treatment of severe mental illness (SMI). Practitioners conceptualize and treat SMI with medical-model ideals. While researchers support using treatment approaches developed from a medical model in treating the symptoms of SMI, these treatments can be problematic for an individual with SMI who has also experienced trauma. Thus, it is imperative that counselors consider trauma separately when working with individuals presenting with SMI. Additionally, counselors need to employ holistic measures to treat trauma. This article focuses on understanding how SMI and trauma have become entangled, what they look like when separated, and why it is important to disentangle them. The conceptualization for the disentanglement process is presented from a Jungian theoretical foundation.


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