Resource caravans and resource caravan passageways: a new paradigm for trauma responding

We have long outgrown the capacity of the accepted clinical models of trauma, and a paradigm shift in our thinking is long overdue. The data on traumatic stress were posited from a certain cognitive-behavioural viewpoint, with particular emotional components based almost in their entirety on western, mostly white individuals seeking treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder, and focusing on that time frame. As such, mechanisms such as fear and emotional conditioning theory and the ways traumas are encoded in memory only partially explain trauma response. Conservation of resources theory posits that severe trauma responses occur when personal, social or material resources, which are key to the self, survival and social attachments, are lost severely and rapidly. These resources tend to aggregate or fail to aggregate in what conservation of resources theory terms ‘resource caravans’; they do not exist in isolation. Because resource caravans are created and sustained within the environmental and social context of resource caravan passageways, environmental context is fundamental to trauma response. It is argued that resource loss and the maintaining of resource caravans are the best predictors of trauma response, both in terms of posttraumatic stress disorder and in terms of the idioms of trauma distress across cultures.

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Hobfoll, Stevan