When one tool is not enough: An integrative psychotherapeutic approach to treating complex PTSD

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Abstract

Complex posttraumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) is a term representing the psychopathological implications of exposure to chronic, inter-personal trauma. These include the main symptoms of PTSD, as well as changes in identity, emotion regulation, and inter-personal relationships. Self-harm and dissociation (i.e., disintegration of mental processes) are also quite common in CPTSD. Considering this complex and often severe clinical picture, mental health professionals often find it difficult to effectively treat CPTSD. In this paper, we present an integrative approach to the treatment of CPTSD based on a combination of techniques from several psychotherapy approaches. The case described here illustrates the need for therapeutic flexibility and eclecticism when treating individuals exposed to chronic trauma. We show the advantages of flexible therapeutic attunement, which enables the therapist to respond to the changing need of the patient, as well as her fluid clinical picture and symptom manifestation. The case also illustrates how interventions taken from psychodynamic therapy, Dialectical behavior therapy, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing may be applicable in various stages of treatment, alleviating the patient's distress in several psychological and physical domains.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1689-1697
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychology
Volume80
Issue number7
Early online date5 Apr 2024
DOIs
StatePublished Online - 5 Apr 2024

Keywords

  • case study
  • complex PTSD
  • psychotherapy integration
  • trauma

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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