Complex PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can develop after a series of traumatic events. Often, CPTSD disrupts a person’s ability to function and create lasting relationships. Many people who struggle with complex trauma may benefit from working with an EMDR trauma therapist to help manage and alleviate their symptoms. However, EMDR can take additional time, as there is much to unpack when treating complex trauma symptoms.


What is Complex Trauma?

Complex trauma is trauma developed from not one traumatic event but many repeated events throughout the person’s life. For example, children who sustain frequent or prolonged abuse or neglect can develop complex PTSD as adults. These people often create coping mechanisms designed to manage the effects of the trauma. Unfortunately, some of these coping strategies can cause undue difficulties in a person’s life because the core of the issue is they have not fully processed their traumatic experiences.


How Can EMDR Help Treat Complex PTSD?

EMDR stands for Eye-Moments Desensitization and Reprocessing. It has become a powerful tool for clinicians to help people heal from post-traumatic stress disorder. The idea is to focus on particular memories and reprocess them while the patient experiences bilateral stimulation. Generally, this stimulation is done by following the therapist’s finger back and forth with their eyes.

During an EMDR session, the therapist asks the patient to access particular thoughts, memory, or feeling for processing. The first few sessions might be short, as many people find focusing on a painful memory or experience challenging. However, the client builds up a tolerance for holding onto a particular memory for longer over several sessions.

After resolving one memory, the therapist moves on to the next one, and so on. Over time, the client begins to feel closure regarding the painful parts of their trauma. Treating complex PTSD with EMDR can take time, though, as there can be much to unpack.



EMDR can be an effective treatment for complex trauma symptoms. Complex trauma can occur in individuals who have experienced multiple traumatic incidences in their lifetimes. Clients work with an EMDR trauma therapist to process one memory of traumatic incidences at a time until they can feel some closure. This therapy can take time, as there is much to unpack when treating complex trauma symptoms.


Family Strategies Counseling & Mediation is a therapy office serving the Chicagoland Area. We offer couples counseling and mental health services. In addition, our therapists are skilled at working with those who have suffered traumatic experiences. Call our office at (708) 798-5433 or email us at for appointment details.

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