Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) covers a wide range of conditions, ranging from a one-time traumatic event to exposure to chronic traumatization.  Complex PTSD differs to PTSD as it will include repeated adverse events that begin from an early age. Whilst EMDR may effectively treat PTSD in 6-12 sessions, Complex PTSD will generally take longer to treat due to the early onset of exposed trauma and repeated episodes.

Early onset of trauma effects psychosocial development, cognitions, and impulse control.  When one is exposed to prolonged interpersonal trauma that starts from an early age there are likely to be symptomatic. Chronic traumatisation causes difficulties forming and maintaining healthy, secure attachments in adulthood.  The following symptoms of Complex PTSD are outlined below:

Regulation of affect and impulses

A person who suffers from Complex PTSD is often likely to experience a modulation of anger, suicidal preoccupation, amnesia, depersonalisation, dissociation and difficulties modulating sexual behaviour.



A person who suffers from Complex PTSD is likely to experience profound guilt and shame, a distorted sense of responsibility and failure. They will often have the feeling of being permanently damaged, experience a sense of alienation and profound aloneness.


Perception of Perpetrator

A person who suffers from Complex PTSD may idealise their perpetrator or have a preoccupation with hurting their perpetrator.  They may sometimes adopt their perpetrator’s belief system.


Relations with Others

A person who suffers from Complex PTSD may idealise and devalue primary relationships.  They may experience feelings of mistrust, revictimization and victimizing others.


Systems of Meaning

A person who suffers from Complex PTSD may have feelings of despair and hopelessness.  They may experience a loss of purpose and problems sustaining spiritual beliefs.



A person who suffers from Complex PTSD may experience mental distress that manifests as a physical symptom that suggest illness and injury.  These symptoms may include memory issues, difficulty with concentration, limb weakness, slurred or stuttered speech, trouble co-ordinating movements, headaches, migraines, loss of sense of smell and chronic pain.

To treat Complex PTSD with EMDR therapy we map out what we need to process by looking at the flashback memories and the associated beliefs with that memory or memories.  When we have desensitised the emotion attached to the memory we install an adaptive belief instead.  In the process I help my clients to reprogram their experience that they have normalised that allow them to trust their judgment better and find compassion for themselves. For more information on how EMDR therapy works please go to my EMDR page.