Experiences of therapeutic services for people with histories of complex trauma: a mixed-methods study


Complex PTSD (CPTSD) is a newly-identified disorder linked to adverse childhood experiences which presents similarly to borderline personality disorder (BPD).

The primary objective of this study is to examine whether individuals accessing specialist services for complex needs or personality disorders have a more beneficial treatment journey if they identify with their given diagnosis.

Through questionnaires and interviews, this study will investigate how individuals identify with their diagnosis and understand the role of past complex trauma in their presenting difficulties and recovery.

Statistical tests and reflexive thematic analysis will be used to uncover whether these individuals feel their identity has changed throughout the therapeutic process and how a diagnosis of CPTSD fits within the remit of personality disorder services.

Key Findings

The findings of the systematic review, as presented at conferences, uncovered the similarities and differences between CPTSD and BPD.

The implications advocated clinicians to look beyond similarity and towards specificity, with evidence that CPTSD and BPD remain separate diagnoses.

A mixed-method study is being conducted across three personality disorder services to address how individuals who have experienced trauma identify with their mental health diagnosis and how this relates to their presenting problems and life experiences. Specifically, is there a preference towards a diagnosis of BPD or CPTSD and does stigma exist towards the diagnostic terms?

Partners & Collaborators

Kent And Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust

Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust

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