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What is complex trauma and how does it affect us?


​Let's look first at what trauma is and what differentiates complex trauma from other trauma. Trauma occurs whenever a person is in a place where they perceive that they are in danger and they can neither prevent nor handle it.

There's essentially two types of trauma

  1. Simple trauma - This is a one time event that can lead to PTSD or not. For example, a home invasion, rape or  car accident. 

  2. Complex trauma  - occurs when a person is in a traumatic situation on an ongoing basis. So, it's not just one incident of being raped; it's being sexually molested over and over for a number of years or on a number of occasions. It's not just one experience of a home invasion; it's living with somebody who constantly invades your privacy or makes you feel unsafe or is critical of you. it's an ongoing series of events that create complex trauma.


How do you know if you have experienced complex trauma?

There are four different places that complex trauma comes from:

An environment where there was someone who was  abusive in some way.

This doesn't just have to be physical abuse. The following all count as abuse: criticism, name-calling, humiliation, teasing, taunting,  mocking .This could be a parent. It could be a sibling but it could also occur at school at work.  It can be any situation where somebody is more powerful than you and they're in some way hurting you. So, this could be the father who's a dictator and you can't challenge him. It could be an older sibling who's constantly mocking you. 

An environment that involves neglect 

Examples of neglect- a parent who is a workaholic and is never around  so the kids are left to fend for themselves, a parent who's not emotionally available to you because they have their own issues , a situation where somebody wasn't there for you when you were hurt or when you needed them  so you felt rejected, abandoned or unsafe.

An environment where there is abandonment 

We'll see this with a child who has been adopted or where Child Protective Services has come in and removed a child. It can happen in an environment where there's divorce or where there's some kind of instability, where a parent isn't around. This could be a situation where a parent or grandparent, someone significant to the client, has died. It doesn't have to be an actual experience of abandonment. What matters is your perception of the event at the time. For example, I had a client whose parents went away on vacation when she was 2. She didn't understand that they were going to come home again and so this event led her to feel abandoned.  This category also includes people who have experiences several losses within a relatively short period of time. 

Where there has been a failure to meet our basic human needs

 As human beings, we have many needs and so if there's ever a situation or a series of events where these needs don't get met then this can lead to complex trauma as well.  Some of those needs: safety, food,  shelter,  respect, feeling valued ,being respected for who you are, having a sense of belonging, being validated, having people believe in you, having people stand behind you , a sense of fairness and justice,  consistent rules,  honesty, being able to trust other people and being trusted ,having people believe you, intimacy,  privacy- not having to share your secrets, being able to be emotionally connected to people, having consistent boundaries, having unconditional love.



We now know the mind and body cannot be separated. It used to be that these were seen as two separate things but we are now aware that the experiences that we have in our lives impact on us physically as well as emotionally and psychologically. There is now scientific evidence that Chronic trauma can result in the following issues:

  • Addiction

  • Depression

  • ADD, ADHD and other learning difficulties

  • Anxiety disorders

  • Conduct disorders

  • Phobias

  • Sexual dysfunction

  • Disassociation

  • Juvenile delinquency

  • Attachment disorders

  • Psychotic disorders

  • Narcissistic disorders

  • Bipolar disorders

  • PTSD

Aside from the scientifically studied conditions that results from trauma, I have also witnessed the following conditions in my clients resulting from trauma:

  • Perfectionism

  • Difficulty setting and maintaining boundaries

  • Enmeshment in relationships

  • Self worth and self esteem challenges

  • Trust issues

  • Difficulty with speaking up

  • Tendency towards people pleasing and care taking of others

  • Having to be the grown up when a child-- a sense of over responsibility for others, rescuing others

  • Victim mentality

  • Shame

  • Guilt

  • Not feeling "enough"


Many of the above issues result form the client having to find coping mechanisms to deal with the traumatic environment. They are adaptive. For example, hyper vigilance is a coping mechanism that allows the person to be one step ahead of others in their environment, able to detect when something "bad" is about to happen. People pleasing is a coping mechanism-- if you can figure out what someone who poses a threat to you wants you to be, and then BE that,  then you are more likely to be able to protect yourself from them. Over responsibility for others may be a way to cope with a parent who is dysfunctional-- If the dysfunctional parent seems incapable of caring for the child, the child may take on caring for the parent. If a child can learn to take care of the parent, then the child is ensured survival. Because the SC is illogical, once  a coping mechanism is developed, it remains active. If it was necessary then, it must be necessary now, is the reasoning.

Taking a Client-Centered Approach to Healing

At my practice, I offer a client-centered approach to hypnotherapy, tailoring each session to the unique needs and symptoms of every individual. By personalizing the therapy experience, we can explore and address the specific traumas that have impacted your life.


Here's how my client-centered hypnotherapy can help you overcome complex trauma:

Personalized Treatment Plans:

Each client receives a personalized strategy based on their specific needs and symptoms. We explore the root causes of your trauma and develop a targeted plan to help you heal.

Exploring Childhood Experiences:

Often, the symptoms experienced in adulthood can be traced back to childhood trauma. Through non-invasive hypnosis, we examine the experiences that may have shaped your perceptions, beliefs, and emotional responses.

Re-framing and Removing Impact:

Together, we reframe past experiences, enabling you to reinterpret their impact on your life. By shifting perspectives and releasing the emotional burden associated with trauma, you can experience significant healing.

Unconscious Resolution:

The effects of trauma often manifest at a subconscious level. Many individuals seek relief from symptoms without realizing that unresolved trauma lies beneath. Hypnotherapy allows us to delve into the subconscious and address these hidden sources of distress.

Relieving Symptoms without Reliving the Experience:

Hypnotherapy offers a gentle and effective path to healing, allowing you to address the underlying trauma without having to relive the painful memories. It provides a unique opportunity to release emotional burdens and find freedom from past experiences.

If you suspect that trauma may be affecting your life or are aware of unresolved past experiences, I invite you to schedule a free consultation. Together, we can explore how client-centered hypnotherapy can help you overcome the effects of complex trauma. Take the first step towards healing and reclaiming your well-being.

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