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What Is Complex Trauma?

two people talk while sitting on chairs about complex trauma

Our understanding and diagnosis of trauma have changed through the decades, and it is now widely accepted that not all traumas are the same. In fact, there is a term used to describe a specific type of trauma that goes beyond the general definition—complex trauma.

Complex trauma can be defined as repeated exposure to traumatic events or experiences throughout one’s life. This can include childhood neglect, abuse, war, natural disasters, domestic violence, and other ongoing or multiple forms of trauma. In contrast, single-event traumas are defined as one-time occurrences, such as a car accident or physical assault.

If you or someone you know requires a PTSD treatment program, contact Evoke Wellness at Cohasset at 866.931.6429 today.

What Is Complex Trauma?

Complex trauma is a type of trauma that differs from single-event traumas in many ways. While both types can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), complex trauma typically involves prolonged, chronic exposure to traumatic events or experiences.

Unlike single-event traumas, which are usually sudden and unexpected, complex trauma can occur over an extended period, leaving victims feeling constantly on edge and experiencing heightened levels of fear and anxiety. The ongoing nature of complex trauma makes it challenging for individuals to process their experiences and can lead to long-term emotional, psychological, and physical consequences.

Types of Trauma

Traumatic events or experiences can vary in forms and impact each individual differently. Some common types of trauma include:

  • Childhood trauma – This type of trauma occurs during childhood and can include emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, neglect, abandonment, or exposure to domestic violence.
  • Intergenerational trauma – Also known as historical trauma, this type of trauma is passed down through generations and results from the shared experiences of a group or community. It can include events such as genocide, forced displacement, oppression, or cultural suppression.
  • Acute trauma – This type of trauma is a single-event occurrence and is often unexpected. It can include accidents, natural disasters, physical assaults, or acts of terrorism.
  • Chronic trauma – As the name suggests, this type of trauma occurs over an extended period and involves repeated exposure to traumatic events or experiences. Examples of chronic trauma include ongoing domestic violence, prolonged war or conflict, or childhood abuse.

Complex trauma, by its chronic and repetitive nature, can deeply embed itself into a person’s psychological fabric, often leading to a range of coping mechanisms and behavioral patterns that may be self-destructive or harmful.

Treatment for Complex Trauma

Treating complex trauma requires a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach tailored to the needs of the individual. Here are some common types of treatment:

  • Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) – This type of therapy helps individuals understand and change thought patterns that lead to harmful behaviors and feelings. It is designed to reduce symptoms of trauma, depression, anxiety, and behavioral disorders.
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) – This therapy facilitates the processing of traumatic memories and associated feelings. The individual focuses on a back-and-forth movement or sound while thinking about the traumatic event to help reduce the intensity of the distressing memory.
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) – DBT helps people learn new skills to manage painful emotions and decrease conflict in relationships. It emphasizes mindfulness, emotional regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness.
  • Somatic experiencing – This body-oriented approach to the healing of trauma and other stress disorders focuses on the body’s response to trauma. It helps to release the physical tension associated with these experiences.
  • Psychodynamic therapy – This therapy focuses on revealing the unconscious content of a client’s psyche to alleviate psychic tension.

Everyone is unique and may respond differently to the treatments available. Therefore, working with a professional who can provide a treatment plan best suited to the individual’s needs is crucial.

Call Evoke Wellness at Cohasset for Complex Trauma Treatment

If you or a loved one is struggling with complex trauma, reach out to Evoke Wellness at Cohasset at 866.931.6429 for support and guidance.

Our team of experienced professionals can help develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses the individual’s specific needs and challenges. Through therapy and support, we believe in helping individuals heal from complex trauma and move towards living a healthier, happier life.