Choosing an Anxiety or Trauma Therapist
Tuesday, 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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