An Adult Survivor of Early Abuse Asks: Can Guided Imagery Help with Complex Posttraumatic Stress?

An adult survivor of childhood abuse wonders if guided imagery can help her, with her diagnosis of complex PTSD, layered over many years; and if so, which should she listen to, given the limitations of her budget. 

Read on as she tells her story and asks her question...


I was looking at your guided imagery CDs and thinking about purchasing one, but I have a question first. 

Would either of the CDs for healing trauma work for complex ptsd? [Ed. Note: We think she is referring to Healing Trauma and Three Stages of Healing Trauma: Nine Meditations for Posttraumatic Stress, which includes Healing Trauma.]  I’m talking about trauma endured over a long period of time - in my case in childhood and beyond, as opposed to having been in combat as a member of the military.

And if the answer is yes about either CD, which of the two do you think would be more beneficial? 

I would also like to get the one for Heartbreak, Abandonment and Betrayal. So for cost purposes in my situation, I was thinking of getting the less expensive one for trauma, so I could afford to also get the one for Abandonment etc., as my trauma entailed much heartbreak abandonment and betrayal. 

Input and advice is welcome however. Thank you. 



Dear Lucy,

First, let me just say by way of reassuring you that most trauma is complex trauma, especially when it comes from childhood abuse. It’s actually rarer to find pure cases of single-incident trauma, including in the military with combat stress. So, most of the people who have posted comments, either on our site or on Amazon, reporting that the guided imagery helped them, were people with complex PTS. 

I’m not 100% sure which two trauma audio programs you’re referring to, but if it’s the full, 3-CD set with nine different meditations on it (The Three Stages of Healing Trauma), as opposed to the one CD, Healing Trauma (which is included in the set), I would say this: The advantage of the Three Stages set is that it gives you plenty of time and emotional cushioning to build up to the emotional intensity of the powerful, core healing meditations on Grief and Healing Trauma. That imagery is psychologically layered, emotionally evocative and psychologically sophisticated, and it goes very deep; the same thing can be said about Heartbreak, Abandonment & Betrayal (which is not included in the set). 

So if you feel that the time is right and you’re ready to dive in and get some healing done, use those two audios on trauma and heartbreak, and forget about the three-CD set. A lot of adults carrying around the seasoned pain of childhood abuse and neglect, do quite well when they start using guided imagery at the point in adulthood when they feel ready to heal at a deeper level and they’re ready to feel their feelings.

But if on the other hand, you’re still feeling tentative and fragile, and find your feelings too distressing when they start to bubble to the surface, I’d suggest you take it slowly, working with the nine meditations at your own pace, staying with the stabilizing and self regulating meditations in Stage One for as long as you need (maybe even reading the book that this set was designed to accompany, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal, to get a cognitive handle on the whole healing process). Best to play it safe and let yourself build up your emotional resilience and self-soothing skills before moving into the more intense, healing imagery. You can always work with the Heartbreak imagery later on, after you’re done with the larger set.

You’re the best judge of what you’re ready for and what your psyche needs, so by all means, listen to your insides and let them tell you the truth.

I wish you the very best with this,

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