Your Guide to Complex PTSD Treatment Centers Inpatient, Residential, and Retreat
While most people have heard of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the variant of this serious mental health condition, termed complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD), is not as familiar. C-PTSD represents an additional layer, the “complex” element of the disorder, which refers to exposure to compounded traumas endured over a prolonged period of time.
Someone who suffers from C-PTSD has endured multiple exposures to traumatic or abusive events, coming to feel they have no control over what happens to them, and no escape from the misery. The multitude of traumas is what differentiates C-PTSD from the classic PTSD.
The constant sense of dread and foreboding that results from chronic trauma results in symptoms that are similar to the features of borderline personality disorder combined with PTSD symptoms. Seeking help at a complex PTSD treatment center that specializes in treating complex trauma in adults and teens is an important first step in reclaiming your life.
Complex PTSD is the resulting psychological disorder of suffering through chronic trauma, caused by such situations as:
- Domestic abuse, either physical, emotional, or sexual
- Childhood abuse, either physical, emotional, or sexual
- Slavery, sex trade, human trafficking
- Being kidnapped or imprisoned for a prolonged period
- Long-term torture
- Long-term exposure to ongoing crisis conditions
- Long-term caregiving for a mentally ill or chronically sick family member
The sense of being entrapped, with no way to escape the ongoing abuse or exposure to trauma, can result in a variety of dysfunctional behaviors. Finding support through a complex PTSD treatment program will help overcome this debilitating mental health disorder.
C PTSD Symptoms and Traits
Some of the behavioral or personality traits associated with C-PTSD include:
- Difficulty regulating emotions
- Explosive anger
- Suicidal preoccupation
- Isolation and withdrawal
- Feelings of terror and confusion
- Forming a preoccupation with the perpetrator (Stockholm Syndrome)
- Pervasive sense of hopelessness and despair
- Shame, guilt, self-blame, and low self-esteem
- Sense of defilement or stigma
About Complex PTSD Treatment Centers
Treatment for C-PTSD requires a multi-modal approach due to its complex origins and features. The complex PTSD recovery stages provide a guide to treating the condition. The first step is to remove the source or sources of the trauma and/or abuse, and to receive protection. Placement into a supportive treatment environment will teach the individual to let go of the things they cannot control, and aid in mourning what has been lost as a result of the traumatic events.
Individual therapy will assist in helping the victim achieve small, measured accomplishments, with validation for these successes. Counseling should promote self-discovery and self-regulation, as well as to assist in repairing relationships. Some of the treatment modalities used to treat C-PTSD include:
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). DBT stresses such skills as mindfulness, acceptance, and distress tolerance.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT helps individuals make fundamental changes in maladaptive thought patterns that reinforce the C-PTSD symptoms.
- Psychodynamic therapy. This is also called psychoanalysis, and involves a more intensive look at the childhood experiences or traumas to better understand the development of C-PTSD.
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). EMDR is a type of exposure therapy that helps individuals diminish the impact of the various traumas involved in the C-PTSD diagnosis.
- Internal family systems therapy. This approach looks at the sub-personalities or “families” within the overall psyche, and identifying which sub-personalities may be in conflict.
- Emotionally focused therapy. A short-term therapy that can be adapted to individuals, families, or couples. EFT includes elements of experiential therapy, attachment theory, and systemic therapy.
- Experiential therapy. Experiential therapy accesses a variety of expressive techniques to help individuals re-enact or role play past experiences or traumas. These activities include art, music, drama, props, guided imagery, pet care activities, or other types of recreation.
- Medication management. Many times medication is included in the treatment plan for C-PTSD. These medications might include antidepressants, benzodiazepines, or mood stabilizers.
Living with C-PTSD can be extremely destabilizing, leading to impairment in functioning and deep emotional scars. For some, self-medicating the pain, using a substance such as alcohol or drugs, can help alleviate the symptoms, at least at first. What may result is called a dual diagnosis, or the presence of C-PTSD with a co-occurring substance use disorder. The substance abuse or addiction further complicates an already challenging mental health disorder, as the symptoms may ultimately become enhanced instead of mitigated.
Treatment of a dual diagnosis involves an integrated approach during which both disorders will be treated simultaneously. In addition to the treatment elements for treating the C-PTSD, additional interventions will be necessary for addressing the substance use disorder. These might include:
- Detox. In some cases the individual may have developed addiction or chemical dependence on the substance. If so, the first step of the dual diagnosis program will involve detox and withdrawal, allowing the body and brain to stabilize once the substance has cleared the system. During detox the individual will be carefully monitored throughout the process. Medications are provided to help diminish the severity of the withdrawal symptoms.
- Medical-assisted treatment. Some individuals who have become dependent on opioids or alcohol will benefit from MAT. These medications provide some protection against relapse, which helps sustain recovery. The drugs attach to the opioid receptors in the brain, blocking the effects of the substance. Over time, the cravings for the substance will decline.
- Addiction education. One way to help deter recurrent drug or alcohol abuse it to teach individuals how these substances impact brain structures. The classes demonstrate how brain chemistry is affected by drugs and alcohol, how tolerance increases consumption, and how neural pathways are altered.
- Recovery tools. The addiction recovery program helps individuals with a dual diagnosis avoid relapsing by equipping them with new coping skills to access when recovery is threatened.
- 12-step or similar meetings. The philosophy behind Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step program is sometimes included in the addiction recovery programming. This might involve guest speakers, recovery meetings, and integration of the major tenets of the 12-step program into the rehab curriculum.
Continuing care. Following completion of the dual diagnosis program, the individual will rely on continuing care services to help reinforce recovery of both the C-PTSD and the substance use disorder. This will involve taking such steps as incorporating recovery meetings into the routine, seeing an outpatient therapist once a week, participating in group therapy sessions on occasion, and even considering transitioning to a sober living setting for awhile.
The Treatment Specialist offers resources for Complex PTSD Treatment Centers and Residential Retreats
How to Help Someone With Complex PTSD
For those who struggle with C-PTSD life is nearly unbearable. The confusion that has resulted from distorted attachment bonds can lead to a dysfunctional connection between pain and love. Finding expert complex post traumatic stress disorder recovery will provide compassionate therapeutic for those who suffer with this mental health condition. For more information about getting help for C-PTSD, please call (866) 644-7911.