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How to Find A Good PTSD Therapist

How to Find A Good PTSD Therapist

About eight years into my first therapeutic relationship I realized we were going nowhere — fast. I’d gotten into therapy to learn how to live as a chronic patient but what we were doing was talking and talking and talking about my trauma and the enormous fears I carried. By year eight I was mentally and physically deteriorating at a frightening speed. I needed to know how to find a good PTSD therapist.

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3 Tips for Choosing the Right PTSD Professional

3 Tips for Choosing the Right PTSD Professional

Recently, I’ve spoken to two survivors who are just discovering (after years of invested time and work) that their therapists are not equipped to work with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  This breaks my heart to hear. You’re struggling enough to cope through the day without being stuck in a treatment approach that can’t truly do its best to help you reach your recovery desires.

But the two stories I recently heard don’t surprise me. In fact, it was my story too.

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Psychotherapy, Religion, and Brain Effects of Trauma

Psychotherapy, Religion, and Brain Effects of Trauma

People deeply involved in any way of looking at the human world tend to take that worldview with them wherever they go. So it is both with those committed to a religious tradition as well as those committed to evidence-based psychology and psychotherapy. Each of us will tend look at serious human problems from our respective viewpoints. This can get confusing. An excellent example of this came up recently with a question posted to Google+  for general comment by HealthyPlace.com:

Is forgiveness an important component of healing from trauma?

I suspect that individuals committed to both worldviews reacted to this question in fairly predictable ways. I know I did. My reaction was immediate: “Important? Absolutely not. Useful? It can be, but not in the way religious people tend to think.” As I discussed the matter with a thoughtful and articulate individual, a richer picture emerged which is worth bringing to this venue, and elaborating on, for many reasons.

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Healing PTSD: Dogs, Horses, Apps . . . and BS

Healing PTSD: Dogs, Horses, Apps . . . and BS

It’s winter where I live. Apparently it’s winter lots of places right now – a time for dark days and dark thoughts. I know a lot of people who are in trouble right now, and tempers are just a bit short, mine included. And now we have to deal with horses. It’s about “healing” PTSD, you understand. Oh, you don’t? Yeah, I have the same problem.

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Is Your PTSD Therapy Giving You The Results You Want?

Is Your PTSD Therapy Giving You The Results You Want?

In my previous post, I looked at the question of whether or not your therapist was doing “the correct thing” in treating your PTSD. I suggested that this is an ambiguous question, for what is correct from her or his point of view is usually related to the treatment model they are using, while for YOU it is not about that at all. So, we really have two questions to look at.

I suggested previously that assessing whether or not your therapist was doing the correct thing was basically beyond the capability of most psychotherapy clients, with the probable exception of a client who was themselves a psychotherapist, and who uses the same treatment model. Finally, I suggested that it was actually quite sufficient for you, as the client, to deal simply with YOUR part of this question. That question, as I have thought of it, forms the title of this post: Is your PTSD therapy giving you the results you want?

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Is Your Therapist Correctly Treating Your PTSD?

Is Your Therapist Correctly Treating Your PTSD?

A reader recently asked me a very important question. Speaking of her therapist, she asks “How do I know that what he is doing therapeutically is the correct thing?” This is a surprisingly complex question. I will point out the major issues to address in coming up with an answer, then describe my own preferred way of dealing with this question.

However, there are two aspects to consider here – your therapist’s viewpoint, and yours. It is quite possible for your therapist to do the “correct” thing, but not to get the results you want. Because each of these considerations deserve careful thought, I will address my reader’s question in two posts. This first one  will consider how to think about your therapist. We must begin by asking: What determines “correct” for your therapist?

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Intense Focus -> Calm Mind: Walking with Water!

Intense Focus -> Calm Mind: Walking with Water!

In my previous video about walking meditation, I spoke a little about meditation in general, pointing out that not all meditation is done while sitting. One can also meditate while walking. In some ways, this is quite possibly the best way to meditate.

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Walking Meditation – Your First Small Steps

Walking Meditation – Your First Small Steps

To simply pay attention – that’s rather a play on words, is it not? And to use the word “play” is quite appropriate. Paying attention IS a kind of playfulness. We do this – this thing that is otherwise often referred to as mindfulness meditation – to notice, to be right up against, the mystery of What Happens Next. The more you watch the more the mystery will grow. If you’ll but notice, this mystery will play with you.

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Trusting Your Therapist: Some Practical Approaches

Trusting Your Therapist: Some Practical Approaches

Previously, I proposed that trust of your therapist is necessary if you are to achieve the success you hope for when engaging their services. At the least, you hope for reduction of the undesirable trauma and/or PTSD symptoms which bring you to therapy in the first place. You should also hope to regain at least some of what you’ve lost because of the intrusion of these symptoms into your daily life. Working collaboratively and cooperatively on these important, challenging goals is the only reasonable plan for you to adopt.

But, there are serious challenges to overcome. Initially, your therapist is a stranger to you. You already feel under assault by life and are likely to view new and unknown situations with distinct wariness – a “negativity bias”. Coming to therapy with any kind of trauma history problem, you will tend to view  your therapist in terms of your previous personal experiences with other people, and this can lead to serious distortions of perception. Finally, even if your therapy situation is very clearly safe (in the eyes of most people), you may be unable to recognize this, if your personal history has given you little or no previous experience with “safe situations”.  How will you address these challenges? I have some proposals for you to consider.

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Therapy's First Obstacle: Trust My Therapist? No Way!

Therapy's First Obstacle: Trust My Therapist? No Way!

Effective psychotherapy requires a substantial degree of trust, which can only occur when the client-therapist relationship feels sufficiently safe to both parties. With victims of psychological trauma, achieving this sense of safety and trust can be a truly difficult barrier to productive therapeutic work. Let’s look at some of the reasons for this. But, first – why do this? Because it is all but impossible to solve a problem you don’t understand, and this problem must be solved. That this is possible is verified by the thousands of people who have actually done it, each in their own manner, but all in the same general sorts of ways. It is important to see a path to the mountain top, if that is where you wish to be. Let’s look at how and why that path can be hard to find.

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