Complex PTSD

As the DSM-5 was being drafted, Bessel van der Kolk (of The Body Keeps the Score fame) advocated for a new diagnosis, Complex PTSD (C-PTSD). This additional category recognizes that there is a difference between the trauma experienced in a one-time incident, like a car crash for example, and an ongoing developmental trauma like repeating abuse. They are obviously different, thought often treated the same. The new category was not included in DSM-5, but practitioners everywhere recognize the difference, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has now set up Complex PTSD as a separate diagnostic category.

Complex PTSD results from repeated traumatic events. Some of the characteristics typical to C-PTSD are as follows:

  • Difficulty controlling emotions.
  • Negative self-view.
  • Difficulty with relationships.
  • Detachment from the trauma.
  • Loss of a system of meanings.

Though cognitive therapies have provided helpful, somatic therapies have proven especially healing, such as EFT and EMDR.

Complex PTSD results from repeated traumatic events. There are distinctive differences between PTSD and C-PTSD. The sources of Complex PTSD abide beneath the level of the conscious mind and body-based methods often provide the best path to healing.

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