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Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, known as CPTSD, is sometimes viewed through the lens of a "disorder", however, The Center for CPTSD understands that trauma is an injury, not an illness.  Emotional trauma victims often experience low self esteem, lack of energy, lack of confidence, lack of motivation, intense feelings of guilt, repeated need to apologize, invalidation of feelings by others and self, depression, anxiety, psychosis, suicidal ideations, suicide attempts, self harm, eat disorders, and more.

CPTSD is defined as complex because of the context involved.  Sufferers of CPTSD are often scapegoated as 'being difficult' or 'having emotional problems' due to the lack of understanding the context in which the trauma occurs.  Here is a hypothetical example to help the reader understand more about the difference between PTSD and CPTSD.  

Mental health providers agree that a car accident resulting in witnessing death is traumatic.  The human service fields have a consensus agreement on near death experiences or severe physical/sexual abuse and the anticipated results of trauma.

Someone suffering from CPTSD may not have anything identifiable as traumatic.  A CPTSD sufferer may report something as simple as "my parent wouldn't let me go to my friend's house after school, because they said I need to do my chores first."  A provider who is familiar with CPTSD will ask about other experiences of being denied social interaction and will explore the chore expectations.  The CPTSD provider may find that the person they are serving has never once been allowed to spend time with friends and even when chore completion is finished, the suffered of CPTSD is told that the chores are not all done or done perfectly.  
This may have been repeated daily, weekly, or monthly for years.  This context matters with emotional/psychological injury, sense of self, development, relation dynamics, ability to set boundaries, confidence in decision making, social skills, and more. 

The sufferer may have also sought validation from providers, teachers, friends, and more and been told "just do your chores so you can go out then, its not a big deal."  This is further damaging to the CPTSD sufferer.  This individual may have initially been diagnosed with social anxiety, depression, or ODD.  These layers of social invalidation and indications of self-fault may make CPTSD symptoms worse with standard mental health treatment.  It is imperative that a CPTSD sufferer be treated by those understanding CPTSD, to avoid further emotional damage by invalidations and reversals.

CPTSD Treatment

The Center for CPTSD utilizes a screening process to identify what have been considered "markers" of relational patterns of emotional harm.  This is used in tandem with identifying emotionally harmful communication patterns identified by the APA.  If the family or individual being seen also displays symptoms of mental health disorders that mimic the limbic response consistently, this individual is treated with a combination of Trauma Narrative Therapy, Client Centered, and Cognitive Processing Therapy. 

The most effective way that this practice has found to undo emotional harm done with CPTSD patients, is to identify reversals and reprocess them repeatedly until the unconscious draw is broken.  This is anecdotal and research is needed to prove Reversal Reprocessing as an established therapy, however, its roots are based in APA and current mainstream practice. Psychology and Social Work seem to be just starting to develop an understanding of CPTSD and as a result not much information or treatment modalities are present.  The Center for CPTSD hopes to change that and bring awareness and healing to those in need.

There is a tremendous amount more to add to this.  The hope from this brief explanation of a portion of the treatment is given in hopes to help the reader understand what to expect and be more informed in their care.

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