A trauma is defined as a threat to our lives e.g., a single incident trauma such as road traffic accident, rape, assault, medical emergency etc. ‘Complex trauma’ occurs where the trauma has been endured for long periods of time such as spousal or sexual/ developmental abuse, torture, war, or sexual trafficking.
In our experience – and we have worked with many hundreds of traumatised individuals throughout the Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’) – trauma focused CBT and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) are successful with single incident trauma and are recommended by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), the advisory body which guides NHS best treatment and practice.
We have found that CBT and EMDR are less successful in work complex trauma. In working with complex trauma, we therefore use CBT and EMDR, but also other treatment models including mindfulness meditation, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, Schema Therapy and Compassion Focused Therapy.