Treatment Options for Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD)

Individuals diagnosed with Complex PTSD have various treatment options available to help them manage their symptoms and work towards recovery.

In this post we will discuss different therapy approaches, their advantages and disadvantages, and how they can provide relief to individuals with C-PTSD.

Additionally, we will explore alternative or complementary methods that may be effective in treating C-PTSD.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a widely used evidence-based treatment for various mental health disorders, including C-PTSD. It focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and beliefs that contribute to emotional distress and maladaptive behaviors. CBT helps individuals develop coping strategies and build resilience, promoting long-term recovery.

Advantages: Well-researched and supported by scientific evidence; structured and goal-oriented approach; relatively short-term compared to other therapies.

Disadvantages: May not adequately address complex trauma’s deep-rooted emotional aspects; requires active participation and commitment from the individual.

cognitive behavioral therapy

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

DBT was initially developed to treat borderline personality disorder but has been adapted to address Complex PTSD. It combines elements of CBT with mindfulness, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness skills. DBT emphasizes the balance between accepting and changing thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

Advantages: Addresses emotional dysregulation, which is common in C-PTSD; provides practical skills for managing stress and improving relationships; includes group therapy, offering additional peer support.

Disadvantages: Can be time-intensive and require a significant commitment; may not be suitable for those who struggle with group settings.

Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy aims to uncover unconscious thoughts and feelings related to past traumas, helping individuals understand how these experiences influence their present behavior.

This approach focuses on the therapeutic relationship and explores childhood experiences, attachment patterns, and defense mechanisms.

Advantages: Addresses the root causes of Complex PTSD symptoms; can lead to profound self-understanding and personal growth; may be particularly helpful for those with attachment-related issues.

Disadvantages: Can be a long-term and intensive process; less structured than other therapies; may not provide immediate symptom relief.

Psychodynamic Therapy - treatment complex ptsd

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR is a unique therapy that combines elements of CBT with bilateral stimulation (e.g., eye movements) to help individuals process and integrate traumatic memories. EMDR aims to reduce the emotional intensity of traumatic memories and promote adaptive coping.

Advantages: Can provide rapid relief from distressing symptoms; does not require extensive talking about the trauma; well-supported by research for treating PTSD.

Disadvantages: May not be suitable for everyone, particularly those with certain medical conditions or severe dissociative symptoms; requires specialized training for therapists.


Neurofeedback Treatment

Neurofeedback, also known as EEG biofeedback, is an innovative treatment for Complex PTSD that leverages brainwave monitoring to teach self-regulation of brain function.

It focuses on altering abnormal brain wave patterns associated with C-PTSD symptoms, helping individuals gain more control over their emotional and physiological responses. By observing their brain activity in real-time and learning to adjust it, patients can reduce symptoms and improve overall mental health.

Advantages: Non-invasive and drug-free; personalized to the individual’s specific brain activity patterns; potential for long-lasting benefits by teaching the brain to maintain healthy patterns.

Disadvantages: Availability may be limited in some areas; can be costly; requires multiple sessions; evidence base is growing but not as established as more traditional therapies.

yoga - treatment complex ptsd

Alternative and Complementary Treatments for Complex PTSD


In some cases, psychiatric medications (such as antidepressants, mood stabilizers, or anti-anxiety medications) may be prescribed to help manage C-PTSD symptoms. Medication should be used in conjunction with therapy for the best results.

Yoga and Mindfulness

Practices such as yoga, meditation, and mindfulness can help individuals with C-PTSD develop self-awareness, self-regulation, and stress management skills. These practices can be integrated into daily routines and used alongside other treatments.

Holistic Approaches

Additional holistic approaches, such as acupuncture, massage, or art therapy, may be beneficial for some individuals with C-PTSD. These treatments can help reduce stress, promote relaxation, and facilitate emotional expression.

Concluding Thoughts on the Treatment Options Available for Complex PTSD

In summary, there are many effective treatments for Complex PTSD that offer real hope for recovery. This includes well-known methods like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), along with newer options such as neurofeedback and mindfulness techniques.

It’s crucial for those dealing with Complex PTSD to know that although it’s tough, healing is achievable. With proper support and a good treatment approach, it’s entirely possible to overcome the challenges of Complex PTSD and improve one’s quality of life.

Important information for anyone struggling with suicidal thoughts

If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, please act immediately. Contact a mental health professional or call a suicide hotline in your area.

In the United States, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, as well as prevention and crisis resources.

You can call the Lifeline at +1 800 273 8255. They also have a chat function on their website that you can use if you do not feel like talking.

In Canada, the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention provides resources and support to those affected by suicide.

In the United Kingdom you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Helpline or call them on 0800 689 5652.

If you are in another country, please visit this page for a list of international suicide hotlines.

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