PTSD is usually a traumatic experience that is short term and violent. 

CPTSD is usually emotional or spiritual trauma that is compounded over time.

Imagine arriving on the scene of a car accident and you notice someone walking towards you speaking gibberish. They look like they are in a daze and appear incoherent. Hospital workers and EMTs refer to this as shock. Shock indicates that a person is not present; they are out of their cognitive minds.

In the field of psychology, researchers have discovered that shock affects more than accident victims or people with physical trauma, it profoundly impacts people who have emotional, spiritual, or psychological distress or trauma. Shock is a “physiological response to any distress that seems intolerable and in which a person feels intensely helpless (Zimberoff & Hartman, 2014, p. 2).

When a dazed accident victim is attempting to collect himself, it is called shock. The effort to collect oneself is often beyond the naked eye’s capacity to see. Returning veterans of war experience the after shock of trauma when they temporarily relive their war experiences. This is termed Post Trauma Stress Disorder (PTSD), in other words the soldier goes through an out of body experience after the initial trauma. Halligan and Yehuda (2000) found that the number one factor determining the severity of a soldier’s level of PTSD is if they suffered trauma early in their life, the younger the trauma experience, the greater the severity of the PTSD symptoms.

When a child experiences trauma, that child will deal with said trauma with the age maturity at which the trauma occurred. If a child is molested at age 2, their experience of the trauma is understood and acted upon with the understanding of a 2-year old. When the trauma is emotionally, psychologically, or spiritually driven the trauma is non-physical. The after shock of non-physical trauma is referred to as Complex Post Traumatic Disorder (CPTSD) and is considered a more severe manifestation of the disorder.

Complex trauma occurs repeatedly and cumulatively, usually over a period of time within specific relationships and contexts (Courtois, 2008). Child abuse is the prototype example for determining CPTSD and is a recent categorization in the past ten years. The expanded understanding now extends to all forms of domestic violence and attachment trauma. One aspect of early childhood trauma is an inadequate response by family members or others on whom the child relies on for safety and protection.

In a 2017 research paper, the researchers found that Trauma Based Cognitive Behavior Therapy (TB-CBT) for CPTSD clients statistically increased the number of symptoms compared with PTSD clients (Sachser, Keller, & Goldbeck, 2017). This is the result of the severity of the trauma and not reflective of the treatment, which showed statistically significant improvement for both PTSD and CPTSD participants. However, the researchers indicated the need for longer interventions (treatments) to aid in the recovery and reduction of symptoms associated with CPTSD.

Hypnosis is recognized as a promising intervention for ameliorating the suffering of PTSD or acute stress disorder victim (Kwan, 2009). In one case study a 12-year old girl affected by PTSD manifested no symptoms after four weeks of treatment and remained symptom-free during a 1-year follow up (Evans, 2003). The research in the field of hypnosis and PTSD and CPTSD is new, but the research to date supports the efficacy that hypnosis is a treatment that has statistical relevancy (Barabasz, Barabasz, Christensen, French, & Watkins, 2013; Burnand, 2013; Slater, 2015).

Hypnotherapy is a process that allows the client to access his subconscious and retrieve the memory associated with the trauma, which is often not possible through cognitive or behavior based therapies. Once the memory is activated, the client, with the guidance of a skilled hypnotherapist, guides the client through a rewiring of the memory and effectively removes the pain and trauma associated with the experience.

Such memories, when unprocessed, lie dormant within the subconscious and resurface when triggered by similar events, feelings, people, situations, words, songs, smells, phrases, clothing, or places. When the memory is activated (triggered), it leads to a flooding of emotions and chemicals that alter the behavior in a maladaptive manner.

When causation is determined and processed, the driving cause for the maladaptive behavior can be addressed through cognitive coaching. In contrast to medicating, which is a bandage and not meant to heal or address causation, hypnotherapy used in conjunction with Emotional Intelligence coaching (social skills) can create a life-style change and free the client from his past.

References

Barabasz, A., Barabasz, M., Christensen, C., French, B., & Watkins, J. G. (2013). Efficacy of single-session Abreactive Ego State Therapy for Combat Stress Injury, PTSD, and ASD…acute stress disorder.

Burnand, G. (2013). A right hemisphere safety backup at work: Hypotheses for deep hypnosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, and dissociation identity disorder.

Courtois, C. A. (2008). Complex trauma, complex reactions: Assessment and treatment. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, S(1), 86–100.

Evans, B. J. (2003). Hypnosis for post-traumatic stress disorders. Australian Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 31(1), 54–73.

Halligan, S. L., & Yehuda, R. (2000). Risk factors for PTSD. PTSD Research Quarterly, 11(3), 1–7.

Kwan, P. S. K. (2009). Phase-orientated hypnotherapy for complex ptsd in battered women: An overview and case studies from Hong Kong. Australian Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 37(1), 49–59.

Sachser, C., Keller, F., & Goldbeck, L. (2017). Complex PTSD as proposed for ICD-11: validation of a new disorder in children and adolescents and their response to Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 58(2), 160–168.

Slater, P. (2015). Post-traumatic stress disorder managed successfully with hypnosis and the rewind technique: two cases in obstetric patients.

Zimberoff, D., & Hartman, D. (2014). Overcoming shock: Healing the traumatized mind and heart. Far Hills, New Jersey: New Horizon Press.

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