Complex Trauma

Resilience Psychological Services

Resilience Psychological Services

Complex Trauma


Complex trauma can follow early or cumulative developmental adversities, such as neglect, abuse, poverty, the mental illness or substance use of a parent, or exposure to violence. Early life traumatic experiences are unfortunately very common. The effects of complex trauma may lead to a syndrome called complex post-traumatic stress disorder, or cPTSD, which is characterized by difficulties in emotional regulation, consciousness and memory, self-perception, perception of others, and relational conflicts, along with struggles to feel a sense of meaningfulness in life.

Simply put, traumatic experiences make it difficult to become who we are. Instead of spending our time safely and comfortably developing our sense of self—the identity formation that is at the heart of our development as human beings—we may devote our time and attention to surviving during and after trauma. When this happens during early childhood, the effects can be especially profound and long-lasting.



First, we want you to know that we’re here for you. We consider it a great privilege to accompany individuals who are on the long and arduous path to healing from something as painful as complex trauma. We pride ourselves on providing sensitive, compassionate, and thoughtful mental health care. In our initial meetings, we’ll work with you to understand your experiences and to establish a sense of trust and safety in our therapeutic partnership. We’ll work with you to discuss how to maintain healthy boundaries in your relationships, how to self-soothe, and how to generally take care of yourself with gentleness and attention. Over time we’ll be able to deepen your processing of, and reflection on, the painful experiences you may have endured, together with the other difficult emotions that may have come along with those experiences. Along the way we’ll be able to offer strategies for handling these big emotions.

Because complex trauma can thwart identity formation, some of the work of therapy—beyond discussing your early life experiences—involves supporting you to discover who you are and who you want to become. Do you feel like you’re ‘good enough’? Can you identify your feelings as they arise? Do you feel secure and complete in who you are? And, moreover, who are you? These are some of the incredibly important questions we may want to tackle in therapy if you’re someone who has experienced complex traumas. And their answers can have lasting effects not only on your inner world, but also on the ways you interact with others at home, in your friendships, and at work. 

It can take substantial time, effort, and tremendous courage to begin the path to healing from complex trauma. But we’re here for you. Please contact us for a free consultation.


Common symptoms of Trauma:

•  Difficulty handling or expressing emotions
•  Sense that something is ‘missing’ in you
•  Isolation
•  Self-destructive behaviors
•  Difficulty remembering large portions of childhood
•  Impulsive decision-making
•  Feelings of shame or guilt
•  Attraction to destructive relationships (in romance, work, friendships)

Resilience Psychological Services / Chicago