How to Find A Good PTSD Therapist
I wasn't actually diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) when I started therapy. So 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. I was mentally and physically deteriorating at a frightening speed. I needed to know how to find a good PTSD therapist.
For a long time I'd resisted professional help because I didn't want to talk, period (Telling Your Trauma Story: Why You Really Should). The craziness in my head, the pain in my body, the fear in my soul. I saw it all as my personal burden and something that would destroy me if I tried to actually work with it.
But then things got so bad (the mother of all meltdowns found me standing on a street corner in New York City sobbing uncontrollably) that I decided I simply couldn't stand to live this way any longer. I needed help because I had no clue about what to do to reclaim some sort of emotional and physical control.
My mom found the right PTSD professional for me and I started showing up for sessions. At first he was helpful: I found ways to put words to my emotions and express thoughts in the world outside my head. I reached a state of stability, plateaued for a while, and then dove off the cliff into the chasm of my greatest fears -- that's when the problem became clear: This therapist didn't know how to work with trauma to the degree that I had experienced it. We kept talking and talking, but I wasn't healing.
I Needed a Good PTSD Therapist
I didn't know back then that being retraumatized by telling your trauma story over and over is a common experience. I also didn't know that all of my mysterious medical issues were, in fact, psychosomatic and stress related to PTSD. These revelations came later, after I'd found a practitioner more deeply trained in trauma.
It took a while, but eventually I realized that part of why I wasn't healing was that I needed a different therapist. I hear the same experience echoed from many survivors.
How to Find a Good PTSD Therapist
If you've reached an impasse in your recovery work or are just setting out on the journey, these five ideas can help you find a good PTSD therapist to help guide your way:
- I really respect GoodTherapy.org and they have a geographical directory. Take a look for practitioners in your locale. (Use the Advanced Search option and choose "posttraumatic stress disorder/trauma" under "concerns."
- Reach out to your local NAMI chapter for a recommendation. The National Alliance on Mental Illness is "is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness."
- Reach out to your local MHA affiliate for a referral. Mental Health America is "the nation’s leading community-based non-profit dedicated to helping all Americans achieve wellness by living mentally healthier lives."
- Ask your physician for a referral. While medical professionals are not trained to recognize or diagnose PTSD, they do have extensive networks and often know healing professionals to whom they refer patients.
- Ask your clergy for a referral. Religious leaders are both tapped into a vast community network and also dedicated to maintaining privacy. Ask for a recommendation related to PTSD in general or to a specific type of trauma support.
While one of my biggest fears was mental health therapy and what would happen to me if I went into the vortex of my trauma (Would I come back out?), the truth was that therapy, and then the alternative PTSD healing processes that I included in my campaign, eventually set me free. Finding the a good PTSD therapist set me on the path to recovery that was more focused, appropriate and geared toward the sensitive issues that are unique to PTSD healing.
Rosenthal, M. (2015, March 5). How to Find A Good PTSD Therapist, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, July 21 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/traumaptsdblog/2015/03/5-ideas-for-how-to-find-a-ptsd-therapist