Objective: We set out to investigate the association between negative trauma-related cognitions, emotional regulation strategies, and attachment style and complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD). As the evidence regarding the treatment of CPTSD is emerging, investigating psychological factors that are associated with CPTSD can inform the adaptation or the development of effective interventions for CPTSD.
Method: A cross-sectional design was employed. Measures of CPTSD, negative trauma-related cognitions, emotion regulation strategies, and attachment style were completed by a British clinical sample of trauma-exposed patients (N = 171). Logistic regression analysis was used to assess the predictive utility of these psychological factors on diagnosis of CPTSD as compared to PTSD.
Results: It was found that the most important factor in the diagnosis of CPTSD was negative trauma-related cognitions about the self, followed by attachment anxiety, and expressive suppression.
Conclusions: Targeting negative thoughts and attachment representations while promoting skills acquisition in emotional regulation hold promise in the treatment of CPTSD. Further research is required on the development of appropriate models to treat CPTSD that tackle skills deficit in these areas.
Practitioner points: Results suggest that cognitive-behavioural interventions might be useful for the treatment of CPTSD. Targeting negative thoughts and attachment representations while promoting skills acquisition in emotional regulation hold promise in the treatment of CPTSD.
Keywords: attachment; complex post-traumatic stress disorder; emotional regulation; negative cognitions; treatment.
© 2018 The British Psychological Society.