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The impact of traumatic events on long-term psychological adjustment in Turkey

Although the history of Turkey is replete with varying individual and collective traumatic events, psychological trauma is a newly developed topic of study in Turkey. Indeed, interest about the effects of traumatic experience has increased sharply during the last 20 years. This increased interest was observed especially after the 1999 Marmara Earthquake, in which 17, 000 people died and 44, 000 people were injured. After the earthquake, many researchers conducted studies in the area and many governmental and non-governmental organizations worked for the rehabilitation and treatment of survivors. In addition to natural disasters, manmade trauma-including torture, violence, terrorism, conflicts, and internal displacements-are among the most studied topics in the current trauma literature of Turkey.

The impact of traumatic events on long-term psychological adjustment and physical health has been underestimated. Studies on long-term psychological adjustment are limited to such traumatic events as earthquake and torture. Even in these studies, although much is known about response to trauma exposure at a broad group level, relatively little is known about intraindividual patterns of change. Because the course of PTSD symptoms is mostly defined based on group means plotted over time, the course of PTSD symptoms is not fully understood. The importance of preventive interventions has been emphasized by many authors, especially after the Marmara Earthquake. Psychological education and psychosocial support have been attempted to be provided to the survivors of trauma.

Regarding treatment efforts, the most widely used psychotherapeutic approach in Turkey is cognitive behavioral therapy. Previously, debriefing was used commonly, especially as a crisis intervention method. Group psychotherapy has also been used in disasters and in group work with female participants. Dynamic psychotherapy and other treatment approaches are also used; however, outcome studies are lacking.

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