Angie is a 50-year-old woman who has been struggling with symptoms of complex trauma for several years. She grew up in a home with a verbally and emotionally abusive father and a passive mother who did not intervene. Angie also witnessed her father's physical abuse towards her siblings, but she herself was not physically abused. Despite this, Angie has experienced ongoing anxiety, depression, and difficulty forming relationships.
Angie was referred to therapy by her G.P. for ongoing symptoms of depression, anxiety, and difficulty with relationships. She reports feeling constantly on edge, having nightmares and flashbacks of past traumas, and difficulty trusting others. She also struggles with chronic pain, which she has been told is related to stress.
Angie was diagnosed with complex trauma related to her experiences growing up in an abusive and neglectful family environment. She also reports a history of sexual assault in college, which has added to her trauma symptoms. Angie's assessment revealed a high level of dissociation, avoidance, and hyperarousal symptoms, as well as difficulties with emotion regulation and attachment.
Together we developed a treatment plan that included a combination of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR), and attachment-based interventions. The goals of therapy were to reduce her trauma symptoms, improve her emotion regulation and interpersonal skills, and increase her sense of safety and trust in relationships.
In the initial phase of treatment, we focused on building a therapeutic alliance and establishing a sense of safety and trust in the therapy relationship. We also worked on grounding and mindfulness skills to help Angie manage her dissociation and anxiety symptoms. As treatment progressed, we incorporated CBT techniques to address her negative beliefs about herself and her relationships, and EMDR to process her traumatic memories. Attachment-based interventions were also used to address her difficulties with forming and maintaining healthy relationships.
Angie responded well to therapy and was able to reduce her symptoms of depression, anxiety, and chronic pain. Her dissociation and hyperarousal symptoms also improved, and she reported fewer nightmares and flashbacks. She developed better emotion regulation and interpersonal skills, and was able to establish more satisfying and meaningful relationships with others. Angie reported feeling more in control of her life and more hopeful about her future. She completed therapy feeling empowered and equipped with the skills needed to continue her healing journey.