What Lies Beneath: Navigating the Hidden Depths of Complex Trauma


Trauma is a word that has become very familiar in our current conversation, but there is a lot of confusion surrounding what it means. This is particularly true for the topic of complex trauma, which sometimes even confuses clinicians who are more familiar with the typical post-traumatic stress disorder presentation we see after events such as car accidents or assaults. In this talk, Dr. Colette Smart will draw on theory, research evidence, and clinical experience to illuminate the topic of complex trauma -— what it is, what causes it, and what we know about how people heal. At the end, she will also provide resources that could be helpful if you or someone you know is struggling with the effects of complex trauma.

Dr. Colette Smart

Dr. Colette Smart is a registered psychologist, an associate professor of psychology and a member of the graduate training faculty in clinical psychology at the University of Victoria. As of January 2024, she is also the mental health and substance use research scholar in residence at Island Health. Her areas of research and clinical practice broadly span clinical neuropsychology, cognitive-affective neuroscience and cognitive rehabilitation, using a multi-method, patient-oriented approach where possible. Her current program of research focuses on the neuropsychology of trauma and resilience, including complex trauma, the topic of today’s talk.

Outside of academia, Dr. Smart maintains an active clinical practice where she provides psychotherapy and cognitive rehabilitation to clients with chronic illness and co-occurring traumatic stress, as well as complex trauma. A committed scientist-practitioner, most of her research ideas come directly from the lived experiences of her clients.

Deans' Lecture Series

Research is continually reshaping the way we live and think. In these online talks you'll hear from distinguished members of the faculties at the University of Victoria and learn about their research interests. 


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