5 Tips for Choosing a Trauma Therapist

When you’re trying to come to terms with a past – or present – trauma, it can be difficult to find the right trauma therapist. You may find it hard to confide in others, so to share your experiences with a stranger can often feel quite frightening. Therefore, the therapist you choose needs to be able to win your trust and you need to feel comfortable talking to that person. There are a lot of factors to consider when you are looking for a therapist, so in this article, we highlight five tips to help you make the right decision when it comes to choosing a suitable therapist:

1: How do I know if the therapist will be able to help me?

Whether you are dealing with loss, a relationship breakdown, abuse or the effects from an accident, you should congratulate yourself for your bravery in taking the first step towards recovery. So, the next step is to find a therapist who has experience in helping people who have gone through similar traumas as yourself. This involves researching online, checking their website or a relevant therapist directory. Look at their background, how they convey their services on their website, and see if there are any client testimonials that support their practice. Qualifications and suitable training are important, so always check whether they are members of any professional organisations.

However, it’s worth remembering that qualifications may not necessarily equal effectiveness – this will be down to whether you feel that your chosen therapist understands your situation, puts you at ease, and is able to provide you with suitable strategies to help you move forward and manage your trauma.

2: Does it matter who they are as a person?

Depending on the type of trauma you have experienced, you may decide that gender, sexuality, faith and ethnicity are important factors. For example, a recent Catholic client of mine stated that she needed her therapist to be an atheist (she didn’t tell me why, it was just something important to her). If these factors do not matter, then it will be down to how the therapist makes you feel when you meet them for the first time. This is why an initial consultation is so important. You will get a natural sense – or gut instinct – as to whether the therapist is right for you. The therapist’s geographical location is also a factor to consider. Dealing with a trauma can take time, so make sure the therapist is based in a location that is convenient for you, so you don’t run the risk of missing any sessions. Many therapists offer evening and weekend appointments, as well as telephone or Skype therapy sessions, which can prove very useful if you have a busy working week.

3: How did the therapist make you feel?

After your first consultation, how did you feel after you left the room? When you’re coming to terms with a trauma, you may have to discuss some difficult subjects, which may bring out some unpleasant memories. However, despite any traumatic emotions that may arise, you should leave each session feeling hopeful. It’s important to feel understood and listened to. The therapist needs to be supportive and non-judgemental, giving you a safe and confidential space to express your feelings. It is important that you trust the therapist and feel comfortable at all times. The therapist should provide you with some coping strategies, so you can start the healing process after your leave the room.

4: How many sessions will I need?

Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question. The length of your treatment can depend on the trauma you have experienced, the therapeutic approaches used and the skills and abilities of the therapist. You may need a variety of different techniques to help you come to terms with your ordeal. Ethically, a therapist should not prolong the length of treatment, and a time may arise when the course of sessions reaches a natural end. However, some people require ongoing therapy for the long term due to the nature of their trauma, especially if this involves abuse. The therapist should be clear with you from the very start by explaining how many sessions they feel you will need to help you manage your traumatic experience. If you feel that you are not getting what you need from your therapy sessions, then express this to the therapist – it may well be that you need to seek help from elsewhere.

5: How do I know if the therapy is working?

Always be the boss in your own therapy – provide feedback to your therapist, so they can understand exactly how you are feeling. If you are not having honest conversations with your therapist, they may not be able help you. After leaving a therapy session, reflect on how you are feeling. If you feel that the sessions are not helping, then explain this to your therapist in your next session. The therapist can then review their strategy and change their approach, if required. Remember that difficult traumas may take some time to come to terms with, and you may need several sessions before any significant progress can be made.

To conclude, dealing with trauma is difficult and you will go through some challenging emotions that may leave you feeling exhausted. However, over the long term, you should start to feel more confident and able to move forward in the right direction.

““I was really afraid of men, but I knew that to rebuild my confidence with them I had to work with a male therapist. Slowly and surely, I was able to trust a member of the opposite sex in a safe environment. This experience gave me the knowledge I needed to do it out there in the real world.”

If you’re struggling to cope with a trauma, please get in touch for an expert trauma therapist. We provide a range of effective approaches to help people deal with difficult experiences.