Connecting the dots between complex trauma and misdiagnosis in youth


DISCLAIMER: This film is inspired by a true story. This story shows the various ways that trauma can impact youth. It contains adult language and includes scenes with family violence and sexual assault, which may be upsetting to watch. People who have experienced historical trauma, institutionalized racism, sexism and other forms of oppression may be uniquely impacted by the content of this film. It is strongly recommended that you view this film in the presence of a trusted adult that can offer support as needed.

Subtitles / Subtitulos

SUBTITLES: To access subtitles for Remembering Trauma, click the “CC” icon at the bottom right corner of the video. A red line will appear under the icon to indicate that subtitles are turned on. Then, click the “Settings” icon, to the right of the CC icon, to choose between English or Spanish subtitles. The subtitles will play at the bottom of the screen.

SUBTÍTULOS: Para tener acceso a los subtítulos de ‘Recordando el Trauma’, haga clic en el icono “CC” que se encuentra en la esquina derecha de abajo del video. Al hacer clic, aparecerá una línea roja debajo del icono que le indicara que la facultad de subtítulos está prendida. Después haga clic en el icono “Configuración”, que se encuentra a la derecha del icono “CC” para escoger, ya sea subtítulos en inglés o en español. Los subtítulos aparecerán al pie de la pantalla. 



“Remembering Trauma: Connecting the Dots between Complex Trauma and Misdiagnosis in Youth” is a short film (16 minutes) that highlights the story of a traumatized youth from early childhood to older adolescence illustrating his trauma reactions and interactions with various service providers (including probation officer, school counselor, and therapist). This product was created in order to support the critical importance of using a trauma lens in our work within child-serving systems and the potentially detrimental impact of not incorporating a trauma framework. We believe this resource can serve as a powerful educational and awareness raising tool. 

“Remembering Trauma Part 2” incorporates scenes from the narrative Part 1 film, with poignant commentary from real world professionals who work across child-serving settings, including school, juvenile justice and mental health.


The purpose of these films is to highlight the impact of complex trauma and the potential for misdiagnosis. This film, inspired by a true story, depicts the experience of a Latino young man and his family. The challenges and experiences depicted in this story are unique to the character portrayed and should not be generalized to other individuals or groups of people. Experiences of complex trauma are often compounded by systems of oppression such as racism, sexism, heterosexism and the like. Thanks to the feedback of many viewers after the films were released, we realized that the Remembering Trauma films did not take these additional challenges experienced by members of marginalized communities into account. We apologize to all viewers whose experiences with racism and oppression were not captured by these films. While the films cannot be reproduced, we believe it is essential to address these  missed opportunities. Thus, we have developed a series of questions that we invite viewers to consider and reflect upon to bring these issues to light:

In what unique ways might oppression related to race and ethnicity impact the experience of complex trauma?

What types of personal reactions might viewers have related to Manny’s race, ethnicity and culture after viewing this video?

How might racism (both implicit or explicit biases) or xenophobia (rejection of foreigners) impact Manny’s story and the way he was treated in the film?

Please put yourselves in the shoes of the professionals depicted in the film and consider how your own racial history and/or privilege may impact your perceptions of Manny and/or the youth you work with.

For more information and discussion questions focused on the intersection of race, culture, and trauma, check out our newest resource available in our downloads section!


26% of children in the United States will witness or experience a traumatic event before they turn four.1
1 in 6 children between the ages of 2-5 years receive a psychiatric diagnosis.2

The majority of youth in juvenile detention have been exposed to 6 or more traumatic incidents by the time they are detained; the average number of exposures for detained youth is 14.3

1 National Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention, 2012; 2 Duke Early Childhood Study: Egger, 2016; 3 Abram et al., 2004

What is complex trauma?

Complex trauma includes exposure to multiple or chronic traumas, as well as the wide-ranging and long lasting effects of this trauma exposure. Complex trauma is interpersonal in nature, and often occurs at the hands of caregivers.




Nathanael Matanick

With a multicultural background and diverse international experience, Nathanael Matanick infuses his art with his understanding of our shared humanity and rich diversity. His magic touch finds its precision in eliciting a desired emotional response and rarely is an audience left unmoved by his artful storytelling. Simplicity and poise mark his films, raising questions more than offering answers. His most recent contribution to the film community, a short film entitled ReMoved, has won him numerous awards and cultivated an eager anticipation for the next works of art he will create.


Cassandra Kisiel, Ph.D.

Dr. Cassandra Kisiel is a clinical psychologist and a research associate professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. She is the Principal Investigator and Director of the Center for Child Trauma Assessment, Services and Interventions, and in this capacity she oversees all activities of this Center of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN). Dr. Kisiel also serves as a longstanding trauma consultant for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. She has over 20 years of experience specializing in the complex, developmental effects of trauma, dissociation, child trauma assessment, and trauma-informed systems. She has published and lectured extensively on assessment and services for children exposed to complex trauma across various settings. She is the primary developer of Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS)-Trauma version which has applications in numerous child-serving systems across the country.


Tracy Fehrenbach, Ph.D.

Dr. Tracy Fehrenbach is a clinical psychologist and assistant professor with the Mental Health Services and Policy Program at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and the Co-Director of the Center for Child Trauma Assessment, Services and Interventions. Dr. Fehrenbach leads the Center’s activities within the areas of juvenile justice and health disparities. She has dedicated her career to clinical work and research that promote healing for people impacted by trauma. In the role of Principal Investigator, she currently oversees the evaluation of one national and one international program for justice-involved youth. She is a co-developer of the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS)-Trauma version and is passionate about the culturally sensitive and meaningful application of both trauma-informed assessment and intervention. Dr. Fehrenbach also enjoys teaching and training on these topics and is always eager to learn from others in the field.



If you plan to screen Remembering Trauma or host a training, download this facilitator’s guide for tips and discussion questions.




In addition to the general discussion questions, included are targeted questions for educators, probation officers, caseworkers, administrators, clinicians and family members.



The intersection of race, culture, and trauma is is central to the Remembering Trauma films. This resource includes additional discussion questions, definitions and resources to support a more culturally-sensitive discussion of the films.



Download and share this infographic with colleagues, friends and family for a snapshot of trauma’s impact on children throughout their lives.



Download this agenda as a guide for your own screening of Remembering Trauma. The agenda includes time for an introduction to the film and themes, viewing the films, discussion, and action planning.



Download and use this PowerPoint template as you start to prepare for sharing the film as either a stand alone screening or embedded as part of a training. The template provides slide visuals, content, and embedded links that align with the sample agenda.



Check out these resources and tip sheets developed by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network to learn more about trauma and misdiagnosis.



Share this flyer with your organization and community to spread the word about


TRAILER [1:21]

Want a sneak peek? Watch our trailer and embed the link in emails and social media to spread the word about our film.



Learn more about the developers of this film and their areas of interest and expertise.



Already facilitated a training or screening using Remembering Trauma?


If you or a child are in immediate danger, call 911.

To report suspected abuse, contact the Childhelp® National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453)

To learn more about child trauma and trauma-focused treatment, check out the CCTASI webpages For Youth & Family.

Child Sexual Abuse
Stop It Now! 
Phone: 1-888-PREVENT (1-888-773-8368)

Crime Victims 
National Center for Victims of Crime 
Phone: 1-800-FYI-CALL (1-800-394-2255) 
TTY: 1-800-211-7996

Dating Abuse 
Love is Respect 
Phone: 1-866-331-9474 
TTY: 1-866-331-8453

Domestic Violence 
National Domestic Violence Hotline 
Phone: 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233) 
TTY: 1-800-787-3224

Missing and Abducted Children 
Child Find of America, Inc. 
Phone: 1-800-I-AM-LOST (1-800-426-5678)

Missing and Exploited Children
National Center for Missing & Exploited Children 
Phone: 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678)

Rape and Sexual Abuse 
Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network 
Phone: 1-800-656-HOPE (1-800-656-4673)

Runaway and Homeless Youth 
National Runaway Safeline
Phone: 1-800-RUNAWAY (1-800-786-2929)

Suicide Prevention 
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 
Phone: 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) 
TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY (1-800-799 4889)