October 16, 2023
by Roya Vojdani

What are the best types of therapy for complex trauma?

Some of my clients who come to therapy to heal from complex trauma ask about the best types of therapy for complex trauma . It makes so much sense for many trauma survivor to wonder what the best type of therapy for CPTSD or complex trauma is. Having spent years of their lives struggling with mental health challenges such as anxiety and depression, most survivors of complex trauma naturally want to know what is the most effective or even the fastest road to live the life they deserve to live.


Before diving into the best forms of therapy for complex trauma, I would like to share two important points:

1)if there is one thing we know for sure from research, it is this:  the therapeutic alliance or the quality of the relationship between you and your therapist is the most important factor in therapy outcome. Research has shown time and again that the best predictor of therapy success is the clinician-client alliance, aka the therapeutic relationship. This is why it is so important to work with a therapist with whom you feel comfortable and safe and with whom you can work on a common goal. No matter how knowledgeable and well-trained a therapist is, he still needs to create a safe, nurturing and trusting relationship with you for the therapy process to be most helpful.

2)It is also important to remember that therapy is an art. There is no one size that fits everyone when it comes to therapy. One approach can be incredibly helpful to one trauma survivor and not as helpful for another survivor. This is the reason we as trauma therapists get trained in different approaches and modalities to ensure we can be flexible and responsive when it comes to helping different clients. If you have worked with a therapist and haven`t found relief, it is important to remember that there are other therapists and approaches out there that could be immensely helpful.

Having laid this foundation, I like to share with you some of the therapy approaches I have found most helpful with my clients, most of whom struggle with symptoms of complex trauma. Please note that my explanation of these approaches is an attempt to give a very general snapshot of these approaches , and is by no means comprehensive.


These are some therapy approaches I have found to be most effective with survivors of complex trauma:


Internal Family Systems or IFS therapy: The basic premise behind IFS is that our psyche is complex and is made up of different “parts” like different members within one family. For instance, when we want to make a big decision, such as moving to a different city, we usually experience different parts inside us that can pull us in different directions. We might have a cautious part that wants us to not take risks and stay in our comfort zone, but we might also have an excited part that thrives on having new life experiences. Often times, our mental health struggles stem from parts that have taken on extreme roles or from conflicting parts within our minds stemming from traumatic experiences. The goal of IFS therapy is to help clients understand their inner parts better, learn how these parts have developed and taken on their current roles within and most importantly, to heal their inner parts and feel more in touch with their true self. You can learn more about the IFS approach here.

Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP) :

Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP): AEDP focuses on harnessing the power of relationships to help clients fully experience their emotions. The clients are encouraged and supported to ride the waves of their difficult emotions in the presence of an attuned caring individual, who would be their therapist. In this approach, the therapist is not just a passive observer, but an engaged and deeply caring human being who is willing to dive into difficult emotions with the client. Learn more about the AEDP approach here.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing or EMDR therapy:

EMDR therapy is a well-established form of trauma therapy that helps clients heal from trauma by harnessing the brain`s natural capacity to heal through bilateral stimulation. The bilateral stimulation can be created through following a visual cue such as your therapist`s finger or flashing lights or through bilateral tapping on your body. EMDR has been proven effective for people struggling with trauma symptoms such as nightmares and flashbacks. Learn more about the EMDR approach here.


As the famous trauma therapist Bessel Van Der Kolk says, “body keeps the score”. Body and mind are so intertwined that in my opinion, no trauma therapy is complete without paying attention to how the client`s body is holding memories of trauma and without helping clients feel safer in their bodies. When I work with my clients, I often encourage them to pay attention to how they feel emotions in their bodies and together we will explore what their bodies are trying to tell them about their healing process. Learn more about sensorimotor therapy here.

You can learn more about different types of trauma and frequently asked questions about trauma on our page.

Trauma therapy is an evolving field with new modalities and discoveries emerging on a regular basis. It is important to find a therapist and a therapy approach that feels right for you, your needs and your situation.

Please feel free to reach out to us and book a free consultation with us through our website if you are interested in starting therapy to heal from trauma.

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