ESTSS Special Interest Group “Developmental Trauma”

The term "developmental trauma" is often used to describe repeated, multiple and childhood-onset stressful events and their psychological consequences for the developmental trajectories of children and youth. These experiences are often associated with detrimental impacts in a range of life outcomes such as mental health, learning and social functioning. While the term “developmental trauma” has entered common usage in clinical practice, it remains highly contentious in academic circles and the overlaps and distinctions with related terms (e.g., Adverse Childhood Events, attachment disorders, complex PTSD, etc) is not always clear.

The ESTSS Developmental Trauma SIG aims to create a space to discuss and explore key issues such as definitions, measurements, and interventions. We will organise a series of online talks led by experts, early career researchers, and professionals to promote debate and exchange of ideas. We also aim to build and disseminate resources to inform evidence-based practice and highlight research opportunities.

Webinar Series

The Developmental Trauma SIG is launching a series of webinars to connect interested professionals, clinical and academic, from across Europe to discuss issues related to developmental trauma. The format of these webinars will be a discussion between two professionals with different perspectives on developmental trauma, followed by a Q&A which audience members are encouraged to participate in.

Webinar 1 – What is developmental trauma?

Thursday 30th March – 13:00-14:00 CET



This webinar will explore definitional issues surrounding developmental trauma. The conversation, between Dr Emily Goodwin (Clinical Psychologist, Buckinghamshire CAMHS) and Dr Rachel Hiller (Associate Professor, University College London), will explore different perspectives on the meaning and usefulness of the concept of developmental trauma.

Speaker Bios:

Dr Rachel Hiller is an Associate Professor in Child Mental Health at UCL and Anna Freud Centre. She is a member of the UK Trauma Council and on the Board of Directors for the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies. Rachel’s work is focused on child maltreatment and mental health, and in particular young people with experience of the care system. Working alongside care-experienced young people, caregivers, and professionals, her research aims to find feasible and scalable ways to improve how we recognise and support the mental health of these young people. Much of her work has been focused on (complex) posttraumatic stress disorder, and includes studies exploring the psychological and social processes driving mental health and wellbeing; the development of scalable mental health interventions; and implementation of existing best-evidence practice in CAMHS and social-care based mental health teams.


Dr Emily Goodwin is a Clinical Psychologist working in the Looked After and Adopted Children’s service, part of the Attachment and Vulnerable Young People pathway in Buckinghamshire CAMHS. She has worked in child and adolescent mental health services for ten years with a special interest in working with children who have experienced developmental trauma including looked-after and adopted children and their parents/carers. She works primarily in a Mentalization-Based Treatment (MBT) informed way and has completed post-qualification training in MBT for Parents, Families, and Adolescents. She has completed additional training in trauma-specific therapies including Theraplay, Narrative Exposure Therapy, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy.