Complex post-traumatic stress disorder, C-PTSD, is an extreme stress-based disorder that can be brought on by repetitive stressful events like interpersonal violence (sexual, physical emotional), childhood emotional abuse to name a few. In the case of C-PTSD, all diagnostic requirements for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are met. People often exhibit distortions of emotion regulation, pervasive negative self-concepts, and difficult interpersonal relationships, In addition, C-PTSD is characterized by severe and persistent feelings of shame, guilt, failure, and can make it difficult for maintaining relationships.
C-PTSD versus PTSD
C-PTSD differs from PTSD, mostly in that it is the result of a series of incidents that happen over a period of time. In most cases, C-PTSD develops over a period of years. One incident for one person may not lead to C-PTSD. However, the cumulative effects of abuse, in any form, like abandonment, can lead to C-PTSD For example, a parent not providing praise or withholding love can give rise to C-PTSD. A mate withholding affection or a partner who is narcissistic can give rise to C-PTSD.
Women and Interpersonal Violence
Women are twice as likely to have exposure to interpersonal violence than men. Women with a history of interpersonal violence (intention aggression by intimate social network) can experience high levels of C-PTSD, PTSD, general anxiety disorder, and or panic disorders. Not feeling loved, supported, or feeling alone or unheard can increase the body’s susceptibility to physical health issues. Furthermore, the lack of support can lead to feelings of abandonment, and ultimately over time may cause C-PTSD.
The primary conventional treatment options for C-PTSD and similar stress-based disorders are psychotherapy and medications. However, not all women benefit. Moreover, some women are reluctant to go in for treatment due to family factors or stigma associated with talk therapy. Thus, some patients may seek out alternative methods of support.
Positive psychology coaching can be very beneficial in the treatment of C-PTSD. Coaching is a client-centered intervention that involves partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their potential.
Coaching helps clients feel heard and helps them to feel empowered. It can be instrumental in moving forward out of trauma. Furthermore, the authors write, a coach gives support for hopes, goals, dreams, and desires. Coaching helps clients create a vision and a plan for initiating those desires.
In coaching women with C-PTSD, a few tools that professional coaches, like myself often use are the VIA survey (Values in Action) and mind-body medicine therapies. The VIA is a psychological assessment that measures an individual’s character strengths. Working with a person’s strengths using positive psychology coaching can develop resilience and help them become more self-aware. It can also help them develop better self-care practices.
Mind-body medicine is a modern evidenced-based, revolutionary approach to health care. Mind-body medicine promotes healing that includes a wide range of behavioral and lifestyle interventions on an equal basis with conventional medical interventions. It focuses on the interactions among the mind, body, brain, and behavior. Interventions often used include hypnosis, autogenic training, spirituality, plant-therapy, mindfulness, meditation, and coaching. Some of the therapies that can assist with C-PTSD a
In his book, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, neurobiologist Robert Sapolsky (2004) discusses the concept of how animals dissipate stress through shaking. The shaking, also referred to as neurogenic tremors, can help reduce overactivity in the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands, also referred to as the HPA Axis. The HPA axis is the complex neuroendocrine system that regulates the stress response.
This is a simple, low-cost, and generally non-invasive activity, yet effective therapy women can use the of shake therapy to release daily stress. Moreover, it is a great activity to support the release of built-up stress from trauma to support the body’s somatic release and promote healing.
Breathing is something humans do daily without thought, care, or even noticing. Negative breathing patterns can influence emotional regulation and cognitive processing Yet, something so simple can be a great tool in the reduction of stress, anxiety, and bring back balance to daily life. It has also been shown to increase positive automatic thoughts over time and reduce stress. Mindful breathing involves focusing the attention on the breath and directing the breath to the belly to and to slow the breath to long inhales and exhales, thus stimulating the vagus nerve.
Coaching, with a skilled and trained coach, along with tools of mind-body medicine can support in the relief C-PTSD. Coaches help normalize feelings, help clients feel heard, and offer evidence-based medicine therapies that support the body’s release of trauma and stress. Furthermore, coaching in the context of positive psychology can identify character strengths and help clients use those strengths to reframe the narrative that caused the trauma.
To discover more therapies about this topic and get more information about how coaching can support you, reach out to me. I have many tools in my toolbox to support women who are ready to get out of the tornado and move forward with their passion. You can find me in my private group where I share these tools and more valuable information. Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/mawmawkelli/
Kelli R. Hughart, M.A.Ed., RM/T is a 2nd year PhD Student at Saybrook University in Mind-Body Medicine and Professional Coach. She loves all things nature related. She holds multiple certifications in coaching, plant-based therapies like aromatherapy, and herbal medicine. She’s a martial artist and holds a 4th degree black belt in TKD and a combative belt in BJJ. She gives back to her community through wildlife rehab and education.
She offers 5 free coaching spots each month as a ‘thank you’ to her private group and email list. To learn more or claim one of these spots mention this article and go to. www.mawmawkelli.as.me