Healing From Complex Trauma Through Holistic Treatment Options

Posted on September 13, 2023 by Corner Canyon Publishing
Healing From Complex Trauma Through Holistic Treatment Options

While many individuals have a chapter in their lives they want to forget, complex trauma is severe. Experiencing complex trauma has a deep and serious impact on a person’s life, causing a person’s well-being, mental health, and quality of life to suffer. Fortunately, healing from complex trauma is possible. Holistic treatment options at Corner Canyon Health Center provide individuals with the opportunity to take strides to process the trauma they have experienced. As they process their trauma, individuals can also build skills that help them to move forward with their lives with improved quality of life, happiness, and mental health. 

Complex Trauma

Experiencing trauma is a common part of life. However, this does not make it easier. Trauma is defined by a person’s response to one or multiple events. When trauma occurs, a person’s nervous system is overloaded, and they will likely struggle to relax and come out of fight, flight, or freeze. 

Trauma can be the result of many different events. However, common traumatic events include:

  • Interpersonal violence 
  • Physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional abuse
  • Neglect
  • Abandonment 
  • Fear for life 
  • Accidents 

Trauma can occur due to a single event. However, complex trauma is defined as a series of traumatic events that have occurred over a period of weeks, months, or years. More often than not, complex trauma is trauma that is invasive and interpersonal. The events in complex trauma are often continuous and severe, such as long-term neglect or abuse. 

Symptoms of Complex Trauma

When a person experiences repetitive trauma, symptoms will vary and be unique to them and their situation. However, the symptoms of complex trauma can be very severe and cause challenges in a person’s life over a long period of time. Symptoms of complex trauma often include:

  • Feeling anxious
  • Flashbacks 
  • Avoiding situations, individuals, or feelings that act as a reminder of the traumatic events
  • Difficulty controlling emotions
  • Lack of or distorted sense of self
  • Memory issues
  • Lack of attention 
  • Amplified or ineffective stress response 
  • High impulsivity
  • Immune system challenges
  • Nervous system symptoms
  • Shame, guilt, or worthlessness
  • Difficulties forming healthy relationships and community attachments 
  • Dissociation 
  • Distrust of others

The severity of an individual’s symptoms varies depending on their specific traumas, length of repetitive trauma, and severity of each event. However, symptoms of complex trauma derail a person’s life, impacting both their personal and professional life. 

Developing Complex Trauma

When a person experiences a traumatic event, the body and brain respond in full force with methods to deal with the danger. This includes shutting down systems that are less vital for the moment, like digestion, and increasing activity in other parts of the brain and body that can help. After the danger has passed, these changes slowly transition back to normal. 

However, individuals with complex trauma never truly return all the way back to normal. This is due to a variety of factors, including the fact that their trauma is repetitive. Therefore, they do not have time or space to fully relax and heal from the initial trauma. As a result, many individuals have complex trauma that is from a source close to home, school, or work. 

Being trapped in this state of heightened vigilance and stress is a coping mechanism. The brain and body are doing the best they can to help protect the individual from ongoing trauma by turning the alert and protection systems up to their highest level. This creates symptoms that impact a person’s mental health and well-being. However, these symptoms are based on a response to stress and danger that is generally positive but not meant to be used continuously.  

How Complex Trauma Differs From PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health disorder that is a result of experiencing trauma. Hallmark symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Hypervigilance 
  • Hyperarousal
  • Sleep disturbances or disruptions
  • Nightmares
  • Changes in memory or concentration
  • Heightened startle responses 

Both complex trauma and PTSD are responses to experiencing trauma. While they have negative impacts on a person’s mental health, they are both based on a healthy response to danger. The primary difference between complex trauma and PTSD is that complex trauma occurs due to reoccurring trauma, while PTSD can occur due to a single traumatic experience. Common examples of situations that create complex trauma include:

  • Ongoing abuse (mental, emotional, verbal, sexual, or physical)
  • Chronic neglect or abandonment 
  • Consistent medical trauma
  • Captivity or torture 
  • Human trafficking
  • Living in a war zone
  • Genocide campaigns 

Many of these situations are less common in the Western part of the world. However, ongoing abuse and neglect, medical trauma, and human trafficking are all occurring every day in the United States. It is important that those who are struggling with symptoms that are due to ongoing fear and complex trauma get the help they need to heal from ongoing symptoms and move forward in their lives. 

Healing From Complex Trauma

Every person who is struggling with complex trauma has a unique story. This includes how they heal from their history of trauma and move forward in their lives. What works well for one person when healing from complex trauma might not be ideal for another. However, it is possible for a person to heal from complex trauma. 

Healing from complex trauma also helps individuals manage unhealthy coping methods like substance abuse, which often leads to addiction. There is a significant link between trauma and substance abuse. It is theorized that this link is due to an effort to manage symptoms due to trauma, utilizing drugs and alcohol as a way to cope. However, it is also theorized that changes in the brain that occur due to trauma impact a person’s risk of becoming addicted to substances. 

One of the primary factors that will help individuals heal from complex trauma is a safe and supportive environment. People need to feel like they can share their experiences and work through trauma in the way that is best for them. This often involves effective therapies, working with a counselor who is educated in trauma treatment, and stress-reducing methods that help them to relax. All of these options are available to Corner Canyon Health Centers in order to offer comfort and care for clients healing from complex trauma. 

Effective Therapies in Healing From Complex Trauma

There are many types of therapy that are effective in helping individuals on the path to healing from complex trauma. Each person will find different types of therapy that are the most effective. However, there are several types of therapy that are highly effective in healing. These therapies consider the impact that trauma has had on a person’s mental health, mood, and patterns. 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) are two therapeutic modalities that are impactful in helping a person heal from complex trauma. They both help individuals to be more mindful, which provides them with the information to better understand their challenges and make changes. Additionally, multiple forms of individual and group therapy are highly effective in providing support, care, and direction for those who are struggling to make changes and process the trauma they have experienced. 

Holistic Treatments in Healing From Complex Trauma

Along with traditional treatment options, there are many holistic treatments that are beneficial in the process of healing from complex trauma. Trauma treatment at Corner Canyon Health Centers incorporates holistic treatments as part of each individualized treatment plan in order to create an effective plan that addresses the array of challenges that come with complex trauma. 

Ketamine Treatments

As a schedule III medication, ketamine has long been used for its anesthetic and analgesic effects. However, ketamine treatments are also highly effective for a variety of treatment-resistant mental conditions. This includes complex trauma, PTSD, substance abuse, and treatment-resistant depression and anxiety. 

Ketamine works as a dissociative anesthetic. This means that when a person takes ketamine, they feel separate from their reality. However, more recently, ketamine has also been found to have an antidepressant response in a person. As a result, ketamine-assisted therapy helps individuals to get a small amount of separation from their emotions, mental health symptoms, and memories. 

This separation is extremely helpful for complex trauma treatment. It provides a person with space to consider their history of multiple traumas, process it, and create a plan to move forward. With the help of a counselor, ketamine-assisted therapy can play a vital role in a person’s healing journey. 

Nutritional Psychiatry

When a person is struggling with complex trauma, they often have a variety of mental health symptoms. Their body, mind, and spirit are all under a significant amount of stress. This stress causes many symptoms, including changes in the gut microbiome. However, the gut microbiome can also be impacted by trauma. 

Nutritional psychiatry is based on the gut-brain connection, which is the understanding that the enteric nervous system (ENS), the gut, the central nervous system (CNS), and the brain are connected. Through nutritional psychiatry, individuals improve their diet. With a combination of high-fiber foods, fermented foods, fruits, vegetables, etc., individuals improve their gut microbiome. As a result, they see improvements in mental health symptoms associated with complex trauma. Therefore, nutritional psychiatry can be a great option in treatment when healing from complex trauma. 


One of the primary challenges with complex trauma is having a nervous system that is on high alert. For individuals with complex trauma, this level of stress can cause racing thoughts, anxiety, and other mental health symptoms. While medications and therapy help, mindfulness is a holistic method that can make a significant difference in healing from complex trauma. 

Mindfulness is the process of improving awareness of sensations, feelings, thoughts, and motivations. Through mindfulness, individuals with complex trauma become more aware of their body, mind, and spirit. Mindfulness can be practiced through meditation. However, it can also play a role in experiential therapy, equine therapy, and other treatment options. 

By improving mindfulness, individuals with complex trauma gain a better sense of themselves. It helps to improve somatic symptoms by getting them back into their body. However, it also gives them the tools to make changes that improve their overall well-being by being more aware of how different situations, environments, and individuals impact them. Finally, mindfulness helps to calm the nervous system. As a result, it is a tool that is incredibly helpful for individuals in feeling safe and processing their trauma. 

Somatic Experiencing

When a person experiences multiple traumas over a period of time, they are impacted in many ways. Their trauma manifests in their mental health, energy, sleep, and bodies. The body holds these patterns. Therefore, individuals struggling with complex trauma may be held in a combination of fight, flight, or freeze patterns. 

Somatic experiencing (SE) is a type of therapy that helps individuals to release, recover, and become more resilient after trauma. It does so by focusing on a person’s sensations in the body and emotions. Clients are asked to pay attention to their sensations in a therapeutic setting and in their lives. This helps them be more aware of their patterns and provides them with an understanding of the patterns they hold.

In addition, SE helps individuals to feel safe and calm within themselves. By becoming more aware of sensations and emotions, they are able to see these parts of themselves that they have previously not been safe to acknowledge. Therefore, while SE helps to unwind and rebuild patterns, it also helps individuals to feel more calm and is a tool they can use after treatment to manage their anxiety and stress. 

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

When a person has experienced trauma, their body holds the memory of the trauma in order to protect them from future harm. Additionally, individuals feel a certain amount of distress that is caused due to trauma. Normally, the distress that a person experiences fades over time. However, many individuals get stuck and end up feeling distressed for a long time after they have experienced trauma. 

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a type of psychotherapy that is designed to help alleviate feelings of distress and help individuals process complex trauma. During EMDR, the counselor directs the individuals to complete certain eye movements and uses tools that create movement in the eyes while accessing their memories of trauma. EMDR addresses past memories, current circumstances, and future events. 

By accessing traumatic memories with eye movement, individuals both process and reprocess their experiences. In doing so, many individuals are able to free themselves from the distress and patterns they have been stuck in. Additionally, addressing current circumstances and future events provides individuals an opportunity to work through what they are currently experiencing and how they can make changes that will improve their mental health and well-being. 

Healing From Complex Trauma at Corner Canyon

The process of healing from complex trauma is unique for each person. However, when a person takes steps to heal, they can change their lives. Trauma treatment at Corner Canyon Health Centers helps individuals heal from complex trauma, PTSD, and trauma-related challenges such as mental health symptoms and substance abuse. Treatment for complex trauma at Corner Canyon is individualized, combining traditional healing strategies with holistic healing options that help a person to heal their mind, body, and spirit. 

When a person takes the first step in healing from complex trauma, they are taking a step that will change the rest of their lives. This is because treatment helps individuals reprocess their trauma, which decreases distress and mental health symptoms related to trauma. In addition, treatment for trauma addresses challenges with substance abuse that are commonly found alongside complex trauma. 

Taking the first step to treatment is often intimidating. However, Corner Canyon Health Centers offers support and care at every turn. Clients know they are safe when they enter treatment and are encouraged to ask questions and share their challenges to help staff know how to improve treatment for them. 

When a person is struggling with complex trauma, their mental and physical health is impacted. However, getting treatment can help them improve their well-being and health, create healthy relationships with loved ones, and heal from substance abuse. Corner Canyon Health Centers offers treatment for trauma that is holistic and inclusive and helps individuals create long-term changes. We understand that taking the first step to get help is difficult. That is why we offer support every step of the way that helps individuals to feel safe. If you or your loved one is struggling with complex trauma and related challenges, we can help. Call us today at (877) 717-6237 to learn more about our treatment options for complex trauma.