Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving

Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving

by Pete Walker

In this excerpt from his newly-released book, Pete Walker offers therapists an accessible, compassionate and refreshingly de-pathologizing framework for treating clients whose childhood abuse and neglect have created lifelong suffering and instability.

Editor's Note: Following is an adapted excerpt from Pete Walker’s latest book, Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving—A Guide and Map for Recovering from Childhood Trauma. For more information about treating Complex PTSD (CPTSD) and managing emotional flashbacks, read a previously published article by Pete Walker here


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Attachment Disorder and Complex PTSD

Many traumatologists see attachment disorder as one of the key symptoms of Complex PTSD. In the psychoeducational phases of working with traumatized clients, I typically describe attachment disorder as the result of growing up with primary caretakers who were regularly experienced as dangerous. They were dangerous by contemptuous voice or heavy hand, or more insidiously, dangerous by remoteness and indifference.
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© 2014 Pete Walker
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Pete Walker

Pete Walker is director of the Lafayette Counseling Center. He has been working as a teacher and mental health professional for thirty years, and is the author of The Tao of Fully Feeling: Harvesting Forgiveness Out of Blame. He presents on this topic annually at JFK University and has also presented the topic at the 40st Annual CAMFT Conference and several EBCAMFT chapter meetings.

Elaborations of the principles in this article—the importance of shrinking the inner critic, the role of grieving in trauma recovery, and the need to be able to stay self-compassionately present to dysphoric affect—as well on his writings on trauma typology and the role of trauma in codependence, can be downloaded for free from his website: He can also be reached at 925-283-4575.

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CE credits: 1.5
Learning objectives:

  • Describe the key components of Complex PTSD.
  • Explain the Four F's of CPTSD: Fight/Flight/Fawn/Freeze
  • Develop empathy, authentic vulnerability, dialogicality and collaborative relationship repair skills to use with clients in your own practice.
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