Post-traumatic Stress and Complex Trauma

Trauma comes in all shapes and sizes, but generally refers to an emotional wound that can occur as a result of a life event that is threatening to a person’s sense of safety or wellbeing.

At Foundation Psychology some of our Psychologists work comprehensively with people whom have experienced trauma.

Trauma may occur as a result of abuse, a serious illness, injury or disaster. People may also experience trauma as a result of witnessing or hearing somebody else’s traumatic experiences. This is called vicarious trauma. For some people, the impact of the trauma may be short term, but for others the impact of a trauma may be longer term and negatively affect other areas of their life, such as relationships, study, work, quality of life and identity. This can depend on how the trauma was processed at the time, the level of support a person had and their personal history. Experiencing trauma is not a weakness in character.

Post-traumatic stress (a.k.a. PTSD) can occur when trauma symptoms extend beyond a month and people may experience intense distress, anxiety or irritability. People can experience nightmares, intrusive memories and flashbacks. Some people may avoid important aspects of life. There may be problems with memory or concentration, feeling vague or detached or feeling more impulsive than usual. Trauma may also negatively affect the way people view themselves or the world and it can be difficult to feel joy.

Complex trauma may occur when people experience multiple traumas that affect a person’s safety. As a result, people may experience longer term difficulties with regulating their emotions, impulsivity, feeling detached from themselves or the world, feeling different from the world, shame, inappropriate self-blame, poor self-confidence and trust issues.

It is never too late to recover from the impact of trauma. Most people who engage in evidence-based treatments for trauma do recover and can learn how to re-establish a sense of safety, process memories at their own pace, learn skills to manage distress and re-gain a sense of control over life. There is emerging evidence to suggest that people can experience post-traumatic growth. This refers to the ability to grow beyond trauma to heal and experience a better version of themselves.

At Foundation Psychology, evidence-based treatments for trauma are available, including trauma-focussed cognitive-behavioural therapy, schema therapy and dialectical behaviour therapy.

You can book an appointment with us by calling 9039 2177, or by clicking the Book Online button.

Other important resources, especially if you are currently in an abusive relationship and feel unsafe include: or phone 1800 737 732.

References: Australian Psychological Society (peak body for psychologists) and Blue Knot (National Centre of Excellence for Complex Trauma)