Choosing an Anxiety or Trauma Therapist

October 19, 2010 Kate White

Psychologists, therapists and counselors can help you treat anxiety but finding one may not seem like the easiest task.

If you're looking for an anxiety therapist, you're probably wondering how on Earth you're meant to do something like that. It's a big step, and if anything's going to make someone with an anxiety disorder anxious, this is it.

First, asking for help isn't a sign that you're weak, or that you can't help yourself.

Anxiety self help is about taking responsibility for your stuff. If that picture includes finding someone that knows the answers to the questions you've been trying to puzzle out, that's just fine. Try to hold that one in your heart/mind: That it's OK to need or want a little bit of support to cure anxiety.

It's a big thing to figure out the what, where, how, who and why of anxiety somewhere between cooking supper and doing the laundry.

Who has that that kind of time? I sure didn't. I was far too busy being busy (and anxious!) for that.

Do I really need a therapist to treat anxiety?

Anxiety self help is a huge part of getting well but to stop anxiety you really have to get at the root causes. It's a lot of digging, which is fulfilling, overwhelming and painful. Some back-up goes a long way.

Good therapists model anxiety coping skills that are hard to have a feel for if you're still in that place of panic, stress and fear. They're allies and guides in anxiety recovery. But you're still the one who has to do the work.

But if I'm doing all the work what am I paying for, right?

Somebody who will reliably provide the space for you to safely get in touch with your feelings, your inner experience. However you are. Whatever you're feeling.

A person with whom you can even begin to reflect on the questions that drive me nuts like, "what on Earth is wrong with me?" and "why do I feel like my world is spinning out of control?". Psychologists don't mind hearing about the scary, difficult parts of your life - the parts where anxiety is at its worst and you're just not sure what to do.

Talking to someone who has the experience and depth of knowledge to understand. This helps. Even when you're having panic attacks and you haven't slept since those pills you ate Christmas of 2003.

What does a good therapist look like?


They usually have letters after their name, which is fab but it isn't the be all and end all. It does mean you're assured that there's somewhere to go if things really don't work out. A good start.

Choosing an anxiety or trauma therapist:

  • Do you feel that this is a person you could talk to about deeply felt things?
  • Does it seem like you can connect with them?
  • What are your first impressions?
  • Could/would you feel reasonably comfortable describing your anxiety to them, when you're ready?

You're not looking for a friend. This isn't like most people you'll meet. If they annoy you from the get-go that's obviously an issue, but get beyond the surface: It doesn't matter how well put-together they are, if you don't feel they're in the room, just like you are --body, mind and soul.

Focus on the human part. It's a relationship. Yes, a business partnership but anxiety and/or trauma therapy also introduces you to novel concepts like calm. Not to mention brave new worlds.

Brave new worlds which offer a great deal, but you have to be comfortable opening your mouth first.

(Coming Soon: Part II - Questions to ask a potential therapist.)

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APA Reference
White, K. (2010, October 19). Choosing an Anxiety or Trauma Therapist, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 19 from

Author: Kate White

November, 6 2010 at 12:35 pm

How do I look up my thrapist to see if she can really help me? She says she dosn't beleive in meds. I am new in this town and have agoraphobia and get lost easy. Can you help me find Florence Duke. And is she qualified to help me? thanks from the bottom of my heart. Suffering with panic attacks too. I don't know what to do anymore. Thanks again for your help.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kate White
November, 6 2010 at 4:07 pm

HI A Navarro,
I don't know what State you live in (assuming you live in the USA, here) but if you Google "[Your State] psychology licensing board" or use the Psychologist Locator function at the American Psychological Association then that's probably the best starting point to look up your therapist and her specific qualifications.
That being said, whether she's qualified to help you or not should also be something you decide for yourself - in terms of what kind of a positive connection you can make with your therapist versus just whatever pieces of paper she happens to have to her name. Though the pieces of paper are important. :)
You can also check out this article for tips on finding the "right" therapist for you.
Hope you're able to make some headway with the agoraphobia/panic attacks soon!

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