Severe Physical Symptoms Of Complex PTSD May Prevent Or Impair Talk-Based Psychotherapy :
If such physical symptoms of Complex PTSD are severe and remain unaddressed there is potential for them to prevent or impair talk-based psychotherapy. For example, in my own case my physical symptoms were so bad that I frequently either could not attend therapy sessions (as I was unable to leave my flat) or, if I did manage to attend, was unable to focus or concentrate properly.
For many, therefore, it may well be best to start treatment using yoga (or another ‘bottom-up’ treatment) prior to embarking upon talking therapies.
How Can Yoga Help Those Suffering From Complex PTSD?
Yoga that incorporates physical exercises, breathing exercises, and mindfulness can be a more effective treatment of the physiological symptoms of Complex PTSD than talk-based psychotherapy because of the fact that it DIRECTLY ADDRESSES SUCH SYMPTOMS THROUGH BREATHING TECHNIQUES AND BODYWORK. Indeed, recent research supports the effectiveness of yoga in this regard – for example, van der Kolk’s study (2014), which I briefly outline below :
The Study :
- The participants in the study were adult females with Complex PTSD who had not responded to the intervention of traditional psychotherapy
- These same females were then randomly allocated to one of two groups as shown below :
GROUP ONE: The females who were randomly allocated to this group underwent a TEN WEEK COURSE IN TRAUMA SENSITIVE YOGA (a special form of yoga that was developed at the Boston Trauma Center in the U.S.)
GROUP TWO: The females who were randomly allocated to this group did NOT undergo this course.
The Results Of The Study :
The main findings of the study were as follows :
At the end of the ten-week period :
- Those in the treatment group (GROUP ONE) were significantly less likely still to meet the diagnostic criteria for Complex PTSD than those in the non-treatment group (GROUP TWO).
- Furthermore, those in the treatment group (GROUP ONE) showed a significant reduction in depression and self-harm
Longer-term studies have found similar results (e.g. Rhodes, 2014).
TRAUMA-SENSITIVE YOGA (TSY) :
TSY was developed as an adjunct therapy by David Emerson (who founded the Trauma Center in Brookline, Massachusetts) in 2003 and its main goal is to help traumatized individuals control their emotions and associated dysfunctional behaviors and concentrate on breathing techniques, meditation. specific physical postures and gentle movements.
Yoga may be an effective complementary treatment option to be used in conjunction with talk-based psychotherapies particularly when physical symptoms of Complex PTSD are so severe that they interfere with talk-based psychotherapies, as in my own case (see above).
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).
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