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Why can’t I access CBT if I have complex PTSD?

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) can be accessed by someone with Complex post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but this will often depend on where you have tried to access CBT and also on your individual situation.

All therapists are unique in their strengths, experiences and training. Many therapists are actually trained in several approaches and can use these approaches together, to help bring about an improvement in their clients well being.

Good news, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy can help

If you are really set on CBT to help support you, it may be worthwhile calling several CBT organisations or providers and chatting with a few to find out if they can help. Very often therapists and organisations will offer a free or reduced cost consultation over the phone. 

However, to effectively address the underlying root cause of the anxiety or symptoms, often a different approach is required. 

CBT and CBT workbooks and tools that can be found online, are often helpful with symptom management. For example, for dealing with behaviours, thoughts and reactions related to anxiety.

It is also worth considering that CBT may work with symptoms and behaviours related to your PTSD, but it may not help you to connect the dots that bridge the past into the present. With PTSD, it is helpful to gently explore how you might have framed the traumatic experience, and how that has affected your ways of relating to yourself and to others. 

If CBT isn’t the right fit for you

Very often a trauma informed way of working is helpful for someone with PTSD. It has been proven that trauma informed practice, now should engage the right side of the brain in creative ways, such as using art, sand or music therapy.

That does not mean a client has to be good at art or music, quite the opposite. But this kind of support has been proven to be very successful as a way to help facilitate the deepest healing in a somatic (experienced at a deep body level) way, which is how people with PTSD experience many of their symptoms.  

Thank you for Asking A Therapist!

I think that your motivation and drive to ask this question would suggest you are motivated for change and to improve your mental health, which is a very good place to start. We wish all the best with your journey and feel free to ask any other questions you may have.

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