How to Overcome the Complex Trauma

Like you and us, everyone has gone through a traumatic experience in their life that they wish to eradicate. Could you recall one, a devasting breakup, the loss of a loved one, or anything else? It might be devasting, but it has passed.

For people who have experienced complicated trauma such as abusive relationships, domestic violence, etc., the past is more than simply a memory. It is a daily reality for them.

Complex trauma not only jeopardizes your emotional well-being but could influence your overall well-being. Hence, healing complex trauma is crucial. This blog comprehensively answers your question about how to deal with these traumas, but before that, it is important to understand what complex trauma is and how it affects them.

Defining the Complex Trauma

Trauma is an emotional and psychological response to a traumatic event, such as surviving a car crash, natural disaster, or child abuse. It happens when the brain and body are stressed enough, easing out of “fight, flight, or freeze” mode and returning to relaxation mode.

Trauma may refer to a single incident, while complex trauma refers to a series of traumatic events that take place over a long period of time, like months or years.

The concept of complex trauma was first described in the 1990s by Judith Lewis Herman. Often confused with PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder), the complex trauma shares some of the PTSD symptoms, which include:

  • Having flashbacks
  • Feeling anxious
  • Avoiding triggers that could revive the traumatic memory.

However, the complex trauma can also cause additional problems, such as

  • Having trouble controlling emotions
  • Distorted sense of self
  • Relationship difficulties.

How Does Complex Trauma Develop?

When you experience a traumatic incident, your brain prepares for a flight or freeze reaction by activating the limbic system and producing hormones such as cortisol to help you deal with it. When the threat has passed, your parasympathetic nervous system takes control and assists you in calming down. This is when you may continue your typical activities and thinking.

But for people who have complex trauma, this balance is not restored completely. In response to continuous traumatic exposure, the limbic system remains active most of the time, even after the event is over. The reason is to protect yourself from ongoing harm. It is a state of constantly being in survival mode or on edge.  This bodily state of your nervous system being on high alert can affect your thoughts, feelings, and relationships.

Somatic (physical) symptoms, like headaches or stomachaches that have no clear cause, are also common with complex trauma. Since the body is under chronic stress, it can weaken your immune system and lead to various chronic health conditions.

Healing from trauma — while challenging — is possible. Somatic therapy may help.

If you’re working on resolving trauma, reaching out to a mental health professional who specializes in somatic therapy may help you heal; also, you can opt for Online Somatic Therapy.

Can Somatic Therapy Help with the Trauma?

The somatic approach focuses on enabling the body to re-negotiate past events at a physical level, facilitating relief from intrusive images, thoughts, tension, panic, unhealthy relationships, and feelings of sadness or despair. By recognizing that past experiences can become trapped within the body, somatic work aims to unlock healing by addressing these manifestations on a somatic level.

Practitioners of somatic therapy believe that the body and mind are inextricably linked. They believe that thoughts, emotions, and sensations are interrelated and affect each other.

Somatic experiencing allows you to process trauma without having to remember specific events and feelings. In addition to talk therapy, somatic therapy practitioners use mind-body exercises and other physical techniques to help release the pent-up tension that negatively affects a patient’s physical and emotional well-being.

What are the Different Forms of Somatic Therapy?


Somatic Breath Therapy is a deliberate conscious method that supports the body in returning to an open, healthy breath. Gentle “coaching” of the body and mind to learn to relax into a linked full belly breath, allowing the breath system and all “bodies” to heal. The body understands the road to well-being through the breath. Trusting the breath to guide the way is essential for opening the door to each degree of freedom in the body, mind, and emotions.


This uses physical stimulation, such as eye movements, sounds, or taps, to reduce the impact of a traumatic memory. You recall a trauma while experiencing the stimulation and then check in with your body to see how you feel.


This finds points in your vision, or brainspots, that are linked to trauma in your brain. You focus on a brainspots while remembering a trauma, and then try to process it with the help of your therapist.


This uses mindfulness to help you understand your emotions better. You pay attention to your internal state, your surroundings, and how they interact. Your therapist also observes your body language, such as postures, to see what it reveals about your unconscious.

How Does It Work?

Somatic Therapy can help one achieve the following:

  • Helping people become more aware of their bodily sensations and emotions. You may expect the therapist to ask you to be aware of the emotional response, like if you are angry, you might feel sweating or a clench in your heart. The therapist may next advise you to pay attention to those sensations and consider what movement or action they wanted to undertake but couldn’t in the past.
  • Teaching people how to center themselves, which means finding a calm and balanced state in their body. This can be done by consciously paying attention to one’s breathing, muscular response, and mood. By being more self-aware, people can feel more of what is happening inside and outside of them.
  • Body work trauma therapy involves the therapist touching or moving the person’s body or face in a gentle way. This can help the person release tension, pain, or emotions that are stored in their tissues. Bodywork can also include breathing exercises and guided meditation.

Finding A Somatic Therapist

Maureen Donohue is a place if you are looking for a perfect somatic therapist who can help you heal from trauma and stress. At Maureen Donohue, we also work with Anxiety Therapy Services to help you develop a greater sense of balance and well-being. Want to know more? Check Maureen Donohue’s website for more information and to book your next somatic session. Transform your life with the best somatic experience.

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