Menu Close

What Is Complex Trauma?

A woman thinking about her complex trauma

Trying to overcome a complex trauma can be more challenging than dealing with just one trauma. It can also lead to a dual diagnosis when someone tries dulling the effects of the trauma with drugs or alcohol. Professional intervention is needed to understand and overcome the side effects of a complex trauma. The path forward will be difficult on your own, as a complex trauma causes you to constantly feel like you are at risk of trauma again. Seek help to get you to move forward in a healthy and productive way. This type of trauma is often associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Going through treatment among peers who are dealing with similar challenges—even if their traumatic experiences are unique—can be highly beneficial. To find out more about complex trauma and a PTSD treatment program in Austin, Texas, call the team at The Arbor at 844.413.2690.

What Is Complex Trauma?

A complex trauma is like most traumas in that it develops after a traumatic experience. But, in addition to the anxiety, flashbacks, and triggers you might experience, a complex trauma can also cause serious relationship issues, a distorted sense of self, and uncontrollable emotions. In addition, a complex trauma is not just one traumatic event but a series of events over time.

Any trauma can cause you to shut down temporarily in response to a natural fight or flight reaction. However, with complex trauma, you feel you are always in survival mode and you never really return to a feeling of safety. It’s like you are constantly reliving the past and the trauma.

When a trauma is continual, it is considered complex PTSD. The frequency of the trauma is what distinguishes a trauma as complex.

Types of Trauma

No matter the trauma, there are approaches that work across the board. What will be unique about treating a complex trauma is that the treatment needs to address the fact that—even with treatment—the effects of the trauma can surface at any time in someone’s life.

Treatments can include:

  • One-on-one therapy
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR)
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Exposure therapy to address trauma head-on in a safe setting
  • Trauma-informed therapy

Coping skills to manage symptoms is also an important part of complex trauma therapy. Having a support network that can hold you accountable will help you through the process.

Types of trauma that can be categorized as complex include:

  • Childhood trauma
  • Neglect or abandonment
  • Abuse by someone close to you
  • Domestic violence
  • A kidnapping, trafficking
  • Torture or enslavement
  • Acts of violence
  • Military front-line trauma
  • Any traumas that happen repeatedly

Get the Support for Complex Trauma at The Arbor Today

Trauma comes in all shapes and sizes. It can also manifest itself in different ways. PTSD specifically is a long-form type of trauma, in that the effects can rear their ugly head at any point in someone’s life. Having the right type and level of support is key to managing this kind of trauma. In some cases, the support of family and friends may be enough, but in other cases, professional intervention through trauma therapy or a PTSD treatment program may be necessary.

People deal with trauma in different ways. It can be easier for some than for others. Some therapies that can help that process along include:

  • Talk therapies like individual, family, and group therapies
  • Behavioral therapies like CBT
  • Experiential therapies like yoga or equine therapy
  • Aftercare and alumni programming

The treatment team at The Arbor is available to answer any questions you have surrounding complex trauma and PTSD. Call today at 844.413.2690 or complete our online contact form.