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Understanding and Treating C-PTSD

Abstract

Complex posttraumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) can result from ongoing and repeated exposure to trauma, particularly in childhood. The trauma is frequently in the form of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse perpetrated by those in a position of trust such as a parent or other relative, teacher, caregiver, or clergyman. Treating those with C-PTSD is centered on the formation of a strong therapeutic alliance. This article examines how to diagnose C-PTSD and how the therapeutic alliance can be built with patients who have had their trust betrayed by the very people who should have protected them. It also covers a three-part approach to therapy that focuses on (1) coping in the here and now, (2) addressing the root cause of trauma, and (3) moving forward.

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Correspondence to Fabiana Franco.

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Franco, F. Understanding and Treating C-PTSD. J Health Serv Psychol 47, 85–93 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s42843-021-00038-1

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Keywords

  • Complex Trauma
  • C-PTSD
  • Emotional dysregulation
  • shame
  • dissociation
  • fear
  • guilt