Complex Trauma and PTSD

Trauma can change our thought process.

When we experience a life-threatening situation, our bodies respond to the stress with a natural fight, fight, or freeze response.

The body enters survival mode and our senses capture key moments of the terrifying experience. All the negative thoughts, feelings, and emotions become associated with aspects of the event, causing memories to be dysfunctionally stored.

Those moments will settle in our long-term memory and be instilled as part of our core beliefs.

Trauma occurs when an incident has characteristics like these:

  • You were not prepared to handle the event
  • Occurs without warning
  • Left you feeling powerless
  • Left you feeling remorseful and without closure
  • A negative experience happening many times


Auto accidents are a common type of single issue trauma.


The act of inflicting physical harm or unwanted contact. Including rape and other sexual violence. Threats of violence can instill fear, too.


Military combat, domestic terrorism, mass shootings.

Terminal Medical Diagnosis

Life-changing news can be too much for our brains to process.

Natural Disasters

Hurricanes, tornados, wildfires can devastate communities.

Complex Trauma

Complex trauma refers to a traumatic experience happening repeatedly, over time, to a person, usually a child. The trauma is inflicted by a person who otherwise appears as a trusted caregiver.  Overcoming complex trauma is a multi-faceted issue many Americans are facing today.

If you had a difficult childhood, or another period in your life, and believe you have troubles today because of it, EMDR can help.

Childhood Abuse & Neglect

Multiple Traumas & Losses

Attachment Wounds

Traumatic events early in life can lead to difficulty managing stressful situations in the present.

Repetitive bullying, discrimination,  toxic relationships or work environments, and other societal pressures are common events that can inflict emotional pain.

We are taught to be strong and not let negative incidents bother us, but in many cases, it is not possible to “get over it” on our own.


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) occurs when the memory of a traumatic event was not processed properly by our brain.

When we experience a traumatic event, our brains trigger the fight or flight stance as a response to fear and stress. After the incident, fear can linger and a wound develops in the subconscious.

Later on, normal experiences can inappropriately prompt a recording when it looks or feels like something that brings up a similar feeling instilled by the past.

PTSD forces the body to feel as if it is re-living the traumatic event. The back of your brain (Fight, Flight, Freeze) thinks the old experience is happening again and brings up thoughts such as I’m in danger, I’m worthless, I can’t handle it.

While many people experience anxiety, PTSD differs in intensity, symptoms, and is often limited to a specific experience. Someone can have Generalized Anxiety Disorder and PTSD.

Negative Mood and Thinking

Hopelessness about the future. Lack of interest activities. Negative thoughts about yourself, other people, or the world.  Thoughts like “I’m in dangerâ€, “I’m a bad personâ€, or “I’m powerless†despite knowing it’s not true.

Changes in Physical and Emotional Reactions

Becoming easily startled or frightened. Feelings of being unsafe, in danger, or on-guard. Destructive behavior like alcohol or drug abuse. Trouble concentrating or sleeping. Overwhelming guilt or shame.


Avoiding people, places, and things that remind you of a traumatic event. Avoid thinking or talking about the event.

Flashbacks, Nightmares, Trouble with Sleep

Uncontrollable thoughts or intrusive memories about the event. When our mind puts us back at the traumatic event and we relive the experience over and over.

Emotional Pain
From the Past.

EMDR therapy helps resolve traumatic memories by calling them up to your short-term memory.

When old thoughts connect to the part of the brain that can analyze the experience and accept that it is over, we can install positive thoughts such as I’m safe now, I’m OK as I am, and I can handle it.

You may wonder if you or someone you love has PTSD, and whether you need to get professional help. If you are concerned and have questions please contact me for a free fifteen-minute consultation.  I can help you work through the next steps to find peace.