Finding The Right Therapist For Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Updated October 09, 2018

Reviewer Laura Angers


Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder requires a therapist with whom a bond of trust can be established. Of course, everyone should have a bond of trust with their therapist, but it is particularly important for those with complex post-traumatic stress disorder to take the time and search for a therapist they feel comfortable with. This can seem like an impossible thing to do if you suffer from C-PTSD - opening up to anyone can trigger symptoms - but finding the right therapist for complex post-traumatic stress disorder is possible.

What is C-PTSD?

C-PTSD or complex post-traumatic stress disorder is a condition that is like PTSD. The difference between PTSD and C-PTSD is the cause that led to the development of the disorder. These two psychological disorders have many of the same symptoms, but different reasons that led to the disorder will help a trained psychology professional make a diagnosis.

C-PTSD is a psychological disorder that develops from prolonged mental and physical trauma. Repeated trauma that causes harm and/or abandonment by an intimate caregiver and situations wherein the individual is helpless, trapped, either physically, mentally, or both, can leave the individual with severe physical and mental problems.


This disorder is not yet listed in the DMV-5 but it is under consideration. Complex post-traumatic stress disorder is recognized by many psychology professionals and it is understood as having different causes and symptoms than PTSD. Many psychology journals have already published information about complex post-traumatic stress disorder further separating it from PTSD.

What are the Symptoms of C-PTSD?

The symptoms of C-PTSD involve physical and mental problems. Children and adolescents with this disorder exhibit different symptoms than adults. The symptoms differ from PTSD because the diagnosis of PTSD was developed to explain the symptoms of adults who have had a single traumatizing life event. Those with complex post-traumatic stress disorder have suffered from multiple repeated traumatizing life events.

Here is a tentative list of symptoms for children and adolescents with C-PTSD:

  • Cognitive problems such as difficulty processing new information, problems with executive functions such as planning and self-monitoring
  • Attachment problems such as lack of empathy, lack of trust, problems with relationship boundaries, and social isolation
  • Emotional problems such as difficulty regulating, identifying, and expressing emotions
  • Disassociation problems such as amnesia and memory/recall of specific events
  • Behavioral problems such as aggression, self-soothing and impulsiveness
  • Physical/biological problems such as sleep disturbances, sensory-motor development, sensory integration, and pronounced medical problems


The following is a list of symptoms for adults with C-PTSD:

  • Emotional problems such as difficulty regulating emotions, suicidal thoughts, explosive or inhibited anger
  • Consciousness problems such as lost memory of traumatic events, reliving experiences of traumatic events, disassociation, mental pre-occupation with traumatic events
  • Feelings of helplessness, shame, guilt, a sense of being different than others, feelings of defilement
  • Problems with relationships such as isolation, withdrawal, lack of trust
  • Psychotic problems, breaks with reality

There are more symptoms not listed here. The importance of finding the right therapist for complex post-traumatic stress disorder should not be ignored. If you or someone you love suffers from C-PTSD, there is help. The right therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist can make a remarkable difference and provide the tools needed to overcome this disorder and find peace.

Finding the Right Therapist for Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder


The right therapist will make a world of difference for anyone who suffers from C-PTSD. Finding the right therapist can be a struggle if you don't understand what a good therapist is. The following is a list of tips that will help you or a loved one find that perfect psychology professional:

  • Look for a professional who is experienced in the best treatments for C-PTSD:
    • CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy
    • CPT or cognitive processing therapy
    • PE or prolonged exposure therapy
    • EMDR or eye movement desensitizing and reprocessing
    • Evidence-based medications
  • Find out if the professional you are interested in has experience with C-PTSD
  • Make sure your insurance is accepted
  • Ask questions before you decide
    • What is your education and are you licensed?
    • Can you prescribe medications?
    • What kinds of treatment do you provide?
    • Do you have any specialty areas?
    • Have you treated patients with this condition before?

Of course, these questions and tips are meant to help you make a well-informed decision but it is also important to feel comfortable around your therapist. If you realize the psychology professional you have chosen is not a comfortable fit, it is okay to look for a new one. There is no right or wrong way to find a therapist. It is all about you and your comfort level.

Previous Article

How To Fade Scars Of The Past

Next Article

Should I Take A PTSD Test?
You Don't Have To Face Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Alone.
Speak With A Licensed PTSD Counselor Today
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.