Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving” as Want to Read:
Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving

4.56  ·  Rating details ·  1,452 ratings  ·  135 reviews
I have Complex PTSD [Cptsd] and wrote this book from the perspective of someone who has experienced a great reduction of symptoms over the years. I also wrote it from the viewpoint of someone who has discovered many silver linings in the long, windy, bumpy road of recovering from Cptsd.

I felt encouraged to write this book because of thousands of e-mail responses to the a
Kindle Edition, 376 pages
Published December 18th 2013 by Azure Coyote Publishing (first published December 13th 2013)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Complex PTSD, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Abby The book is intended for those with CPTSD from childhood trauma. PTSD typically occurs due to one-time trauma, like a particularly scarring event of…moreThe book is intended for those with CPTSD from childhood trauma. PTSD typically occurs due to one-time trauma, like a particularly scarring event of sexual assault, violence, etc. CPTSD occurs due to ongoing trauma in which there is no perceived chance of escape; it's most commonly seen in survivors of childhood abuse and neglect of all sorts, but also occurs sometimes in prisoners of war, etc.

Whether you have a formal diagnosis of CPTSD or not, if you have a childhood that was at all troubled or traumatic in any way, it's definitely a book worth reading. It does primarily focus on healing from childhood trauma, however, so if you're suffering from PTSD resulting from events in adulthood, it may not be as helpful to you (unless you're also suffering from the effects of childhood trauma in addition).(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.56  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,452 ratings  ·  135 reviews

Sort order
Start your review of Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving
Complex PTSD is one of the best books I’ve read on childhood trauma recovery.

Despite the long title, the book itself is not complex nor is it written in psycho-babble ra-ra. The author is grounded in that he himself has struggled with trauma recovery and it’s palpable that he wishes to impart the strategies and wisdom he has found to work for himself and others.

There are many elements that make this self-recovery book stand above others for me.

*The author speaks from exp
Nov 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology
There are less than 20 books i can think of that actually changed my life, and this is one of them.
Pete Walker outlines in clear understandable language what contributes to C-PTSD. This is definitely a layman's book and thank god, it's free from the endless anecdotes that infest most popular "self help" or psychology books that populate the ranks of Amazon best sellers.
Dr. Walker uses examples from his own life with humility and insight---a refreshing change from the hectoring and co
Apr 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We all are familiar with PTSD. Most often in the news concerning returning veterans. Walker's books is about Complex PTSD (cPTSD.) The added 'c' essentially extends many of the ideas of trauma recovery to childhood developmental traumas. Most specifically childhood traumas arising from poor parenting and troubled home environments.

It is delineated by common features: emotional flashbacks (unlike PTSD there is not usually visual component), toxic shame (directly drawing from the work of John Bra
Absolutely excellent. Anyone who had an abusive/neglectful childhood should read this book, whether you have a formal diagnosis of CPTSD or not. Practical advice on learning to be free from toxic shame and the inner critic.
Jun 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
I would highly recommend this book. It is written by someone who suffers from CPTSD. At times, the text might feel superfluous, but in fact, it is good for explaining the points the author is making.

WARNING: It can be a very triggering read. I found that I could only read it in small bits. And, at times, triggering is healing. You have to be ready to look at yourself and be willing to accept truths as you read them.

The books is well written. The insight very helpful. Add
Travel Writing
Nov 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Every single person in the world
"...become an unflinching source of kindness and self-compassion for yourself."

Excellent read on how an abusive childhood has had a profound impact on you. And not just a broken-bones-CPS-got-involved-kind of childhood, but a childhood with parents who had minimal attunement, who were sharp tongued more often than not, who had addictions, even if those addictions were seemingly under control- they weren't. The book also speaks clearly on specific ways to walk yourself to healing, to
Feb 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
After reading this book and becoming more aware of PTSD and C-PTSD and all the (initially) pretentiously sounding terms like emotional flashbacks and bibliotherapy (but later on revealing elusive emotional processes that are very little written about even in the world of psychology); I can honestly say that I have come to regard Pete Walker as nothing less than a brilliant practitioner of psychotherapy specializing in C-PTSD, which is grossly under-diagnosed throughout the world, currently, but ...more
This book changed my life.

Highly, highly recommended for everybody with any kind of childhood trauma - and that includes
the devastating effects of the invisible, intangible emotional neglect by chronically stressed, distracted and otherwise occupied parents.

Another brilliant (and quite unique) aspect of the book is the deep insight Pete Walker has in the traumatic origin of pathological narcissism and sociopathy.
The way he shows in his empathetic, wise and deeply i
May 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mental-health
10 stars

This is the best and most helpful book I've ever read and reading it was the most encouraging thing I've done in years.

Finally someone understands me. Finally I don't feel like a lost case, a weird psycho, the only one in the universe suffering from an array of psychological problems that sometimes show for no obvious reason.

This book gave me hope which I lacked for years. There's a very long and difficult journey in front of me, but I don't mind. Afte
Steve Woods
Sep 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is an outstanding piece of work. Probably the best treatment of Complex PTSD I have read, written in language that anyone can understand and full of material that can be brought into use to effect. Much of what he outlines here comes from his own personal experience and accords with my own. Many of the approaches he outlines I have had to work out for myself through trial and error and they've worked for me. the great benefit was the additional clarity he could offer and some new insights t ...more
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is by far the BEST book I have ever read on Complex PTSD , which is very different from PTSD.

As a therapist and a survivor of C- PTSD myself , I have found that the often prescribed CBT type of therapy does not work for those of us with C-PTSD. My experience and my own journey as a survivor of childhood trauma has led me on a quest to find the most effective therapy methods for healing. I have found these clients need more than what traditional therapists frequently offer. For one, the the
Jun 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Walker is amazing for breaking down so many thought processes and physical sensations in a repeated, clear, descriptive way. I didn't always jive with his perspective on traumatizing parents because he has a very black and white "people who caused these problems are terrible and never had anything good to offer" and it's often so much more complicated. He also has some gender essentializing language and perspectives. But for the most part the tools in this book are incredibly helpful for working ...more
Jocelyn Beecher
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Can’t recommend this one enough. It’s taken me about a month to work through for two reasons.

1) I wanted to really absorb all the information so I forced myself to only read in short bursts. This was sometimes not hard to do because my mind would constantly explode as I read and I’d need to collect myself.

2) At about 50 pages in I started over so I could write notes as I went and I continued to copy down important bits of information up until almost the last page.

For me
Betty Mars
Jun 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is truly the only book--the only anything--I have ever read that accurately describes my internal experience. If you or someone you love has CPTSD, this is an invaluable resource that not only offers insight on how it plays out but actionable guidance on how to navigate it as well. Must read.
Feb 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is so good! But why did the author have to bring "god" into the mix? Argh...
This book is a masterpiece. Pete Walker excels at describing his own experience with CPTSD and he conveys it in a format that can be understood by all. The information in this book will help you heal, read it slowly because it's highly triggering, but it's worthy. Your well being is worth. You matter.

CPTSD (Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) develops as a result of being raised in a abusive/neglectful environment, in which the primary caregivers (parents, grandparents, step-parents, other relatives
Denise みか Hutchins
This will never be a book that I'm truly "finished" reading. I keep it by my bed at all times and have turned to it more than once when I found myself falling into fear or depression. Even if you've never had an official diagnosis of CPTSD (which is highly likely, since it still isn't officially recognized by all major mental health organizations) if you've ever had a panic attack, experienced social anxiety or depression, or been diagnosed with any other mental health issue, I really recommend ...more
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read a lot of self-help books that I thought would help me address various problems connected with my early life, and this is far and away the most helpful. Pete Walker seems to be a compassionate man, and his words and viewpoint really resonated for me. The book wasn't always an easy read because it brought up some painful feelings and realizations, but it was so well worth it. It provides an overview of the various dimensions (cognitive, emotional, physical) involved in healing from child ...more
Feb 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read this thinking- "yeah right, its going to be a lot of comparisons to people with this disorder who are nothing like me, nothing ever relates to my situation, this is so stupid" and I was wrong. I laid in bed reading and I kept thinking WOW this is me! This is why I do this! Now I know how to cope with emotions or how to understand them better the next time I react to something. It was extremely educational and helpful and I really enjoyed it. This was also a very pleasant read, easy to abs ...more
Dec 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is the single greatest therapeutic resource I have ever read and I wish it was more widely available. I don't know if it's easily accessible to people without a background in therapy or mindfulness, but it will send you a long way to being able to self-soothe, and to understand and reduce your trauma reactions. I have used the flashback management tips several times, and they have mostly been successful.
Willow Grier
May 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The most helpful and illuminating self-help book I have ever read. I highly recommend this read for anyone who has had a difficult childhood, difficult relationship with their parents, been shamed by organized religion, or who has been abused in a relationship. Honestly I think everyone should read it as there is something for everyone and the coping strategies are wonderful.
Feb 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent book. I found his writing and how he explained PTSD to be very compassionate. That is something very important when trying to understand yourself and make changes in your behavior. I really am very grateful Walker wrote this book. Thank you.
Ruthie Grace
Aug 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Essential read for anyone who grew up with abusive or unavailable parents.
Jul 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A very accessible, validating read with many practical suggestions on ways to process and integrate trauma.
Sophie Rayton
Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow! This is it! C-PTSD is still a relatively 'new' and unheard of ailment. Many people who suffer with it are left bobbing around various diagnoses and feeling even more broken for not fitting into any of them properly. If you've had a bad childhood - read this book. It might clear up a lot of things about why you are the way you are.
Oct 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book not so long ago at a time I was particularly desperate, mentally speaking. And it helped. It wasn't that I read it and found myself and everything made sense out of the blue, no. But the book explained and allowed me to discover things I knew were wrong but didn't have the vocabulary to describe it.

It highlighted a few things, beyond explaining how trauma originates, people's different reactions to it and how these affect their lives and how people can retrain themselves, in a
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was a *very* good book on the topic of how to find your way out of the automatic emotional reactions that grew as a reaction to neglect or abuse in childhood.

The author knows what he is talking about from his own experience, and can explain very clearly why and how the various intense emotions (fear, shame, self-accusations) can come up again and again. This recognition is already wonderful, but it is even better that he shows how to navigate out from that inner turmoil. It is a
Charlie Hailey
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There were issues with this book that make this 5-star review maybe not ENTIRELY justified- namely the very stigmatizing and outdated discussions about borderline (especially disappointing considering the body of evidence suggesting that borderline and cptsd may be synonymous). The author also advocated for some therapies that I feel edge a little too close to pseudoscience to be suggesting to vulnerable abuse survivors.

That being said, I’m very liberal with my 5 star reviews and thi
Tom Britz
Nov 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This book goes a long way to explaining what Complex PTSD is, how it comes about and some of the ways to help deal with it. Complex PTSD is a debilitating condition and it is invisible to others. The only symptoms are how it affects the person with it. For a few years now, I thought I was suffering from the king of writer's block, but then someone told me to check into PTSD. My eyes grew large almost from the first page, as I found myself being described on, not every page, but enough to convinc ...more
Molly McCarty
Jul 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: helps, favorites
Despite its hideous cover, this is one of the best books on C-PTSD I have ever read. Walker writes with deep compassion and the wisdom of navigating his on condition, as well as many years working as a counselor. This book is packed with information and useful tools for people struggling trauma-related mental illnesses. I highly recommend this book to anyone diagnosed with C-PTSD, PTSD, BPD, or a history of emotional, verbal, sexual, or physical abuse. Read it with highlighter in hand.
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Healing Developmental Trauma: How Early Trauma Affects Self-Regulation, Self-Image, and the Capacity for Relationship
  • Coping with Trauma-Related Dissociation: Skills Training for Patients and Therapists
  • Healing from Trauma: A Survivor's Guide to Understanding Your Symptoms and Reclaiming Your Life
  • The Haunted Self: Structural Dissociation and the Treatment of Chronic Traumatization
  • The Emotional Incest Syndrome: What to do When a Parent's Love Rules Your Life
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook
  • Rebuilding Shattered Lives: Treating Complex PTSD and Dissociative Disorders
  • The Fear Book: Facing Fear Once and for All
  • Free from Lies: Discovering Your True Needs
  • Adult Children of Abusive Parents
  • Healing Trauma: Restoring the Wisdom of Your Body
  • Healing the Wounded Heart: The Heartache of Sexual Abuse and the Hope of Transformation
  • The Dissociative Identity Disorder Sourcebook
  • The Body Bears the Burden: Trauma, Dissociation, and Disease
  • Surviving a Borderline Parent: How to Heal Your Childhood Wounds and Build Trust, Boundaries, and Self-Esteem
  • The C.I.A. Doctors: Human Rights Violations by American Psychiatrists
  • Secret Survivors
  • Healing the Scars of Emotional Abuse
See similar books…
Pete Walker is a "general practitioner" who has a private practice in Berkeley, California, in the serene Claremont Hotel neighborhood. He has been working as a counselor, lecturer, writer and group leader for thirty-five years, and as a trainer, supervisor and consultant of other therapists for 20 years.

Pete Walker is a "general practitioner" who has a private practice in the Rockridg
“Reparenting Affirmations I am so glad you were born. You are a good person. I love who you are and am doing my best to always be on your side. You can come to me whenever you’re feeling hurt or bad. You do not have to be perfect to get my love and protection. All of your feelings are okay with me. I am always glad to see you. It is okay for you to be angry and I won’t let you hurt yourself or others when you are. You can make mistakes - they are your teachers. You can know what you need and ask for help. You can have your own preferences and tastes. You are a delight to my eyes. You can choose your own values. You can pick your own friends, and you don’t have to like everyone. You can sometimes feel confused and ambivalent, and not know all the answers. I am very proud of you.” 11 likes
“There is often a close relationship between emotion and physical sensation. Physical sensations in the body often co-occur with feelings. Moreover, sensations of tightness and tension can develop as a defense against feelings. As unexpressed feelings accumulate, a greater degree of muscular tension is necessary to keep them under wraps. A child who is repeatedly punished for emoting learns to be afraid of inner emotional experience and tightens [armors] the musculature of her body in an effort to hold feelings in and to banish them from awareness. Holding your breath is a further manifestation of armoring. It is an especially common way of keeping feelings at bay, as breathing naturally brings your awareness down to the level of feeling.” 9 likes
More quotes…