Psychological Therapeutic Solutions

By Dr Deborah Kingston

By Dr Deborah Kingston

Understanding Complex Trauma and Effective Ways to Work Through It

Complex trauma, a term often used in psychological contexts, refers to exposure to multiple traumatic events, often invasive and interpersonal in nature. At Psychological Therapeutic Solutions, we specialise in working with individuals who have experienced such traumas.

Defining Complex Trauma

Complex trauma typically arises from prolonged or repeated experiences, such as childhood abuse (physical, sexual, emotional), bullying, or living in adverse environments like domestic violence or with caregivers suffering from addiction or mental health issues. These experiences can trigger the brain into a state of hypervigilance, impacting an individual’s life significantly.  Past and Present situations can merge and our responses can feel illogical which impacts on all aspects of daily functioning.

It is important to also understand that many people can be traumatised but not experienced what we would call a big T trauma.  People who endure emotionally unsafe childhoods maybe through criticism and a lack of emotional warmth and connect can go on to develop complex trauma.

Assessment and Understanding

Our approach involves a thorough assessment of an individual’s life, from birth to the present day, to understand how various experiences have shaped their coping strategies. By exploring these life events, we identify patterns and responses that might stem from past trauma.

Common Symptoms of Complex Trauma

  1. Persistent feelings of sadness or despair.
  2. Hypervigilance and constant alertness.
  3. Difficulty in trusting others.
  4. Flashbacks or intrusive memories.
  5. Emotional numbness or detachment.
  6. Severe anxiety or panic attacks.
  7. Disrupted sleep patterns, including nightmares.
  8. Difficulty in managing anger or intense emotions.
  9. Feelings of guilt or shame.
  10. Relationship difficulties or social withdrawal.
  11. Not being able to plan a future.
  12. Identity Disturbances (not know who I am)

Trauma-Based Therapies: Coping with complex trauma requires a multifaceted approach. At Psychological Therapeutic Solutions, we employ trauma-based therapies like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR), alongside Compassion Focused Therapies and Poly Vagal Theory. These therapies aim to process traumatic memories, develop healthier coping mechanisms, and restore a sense of safety and trust.


Complex trauma can deeply affect an individual’s life, but with the right support and therapeutic interventions, it is possible to navigate these challenges and find a path to putting your traumatic experiences firmly in the past and creating stability in the present.

For further guidance and support consider reaching out to Psychological Therapeutic Solutions. Contact us to explore personalised options for your healing process.