Counseling, fortunately, is becoming more acceptable.  Unfortunately, media portrays every PTSD survivor as a threat or a liar.  Great…(Read this word dripping in sarcasm, anyone willing to create a sarcasm font?)  I don’t need the media making my life any harder than it already is.  Determination is needed to start counseling.  Courage required to keep going.  Selecting a counselor is the toughest thing to do when trusting yourself is a challenge.  There are some basic steps to start….always remember that you can change your mind.  Unfortunately, counseling is not comfortable nor easy so your basis of decision needs to be something besides your comfort.

“Don’t let mental blocks control you. Set yourself free. Confront your fear and turn the mental blocks into building blocks.”
Roopleen, Words to inspire the winner in YOU

Criteria I used.  I posted links to several other places that give their perspectives on choosing a counselor.  Don’t take my word for it….Do your own research….you’ll see me writing this often.  Do your own research.  Libraries have computers to explore options.

First, I talked to someone I trusted that knew several different therapist because of the work she did.  I asked her for some names.  This is only a starting point since counselors are not equally good for all people.

Do your own research:

Fortunately today, most therapist have a webpage.  Read their webpage blog or other information from web searches.

Do they have experience with PTSD?  Or how much experience?  My first counselor had over 20 years experience that helped him recognize things about me that I didn’t recognize myself.

Find out if they are licensed and where?  Counseling is now offered on line.  This may work for some people.  (Didn’t work for me because my hearing loss makes talking over a phone very difficult.)

Check with the state they are licensed to see if they were before the state board for any reason.  Reminder that going before the state board does not mean they are guilty of misconduct.  However, multiple times or how the situation was resolved may be important indicators.  This information is public record and should be available online without cost.

Interview the counselor…..That’s right…..You will be hiring this person to work for you. The links below give several lists of possible questions.

A few:

What is your approach or method you follow?

What does a session look like?

Will there be homework?

How can I contact you if I feel I am in an emergency situation between sessions?

How much do you charge?  How do you expect to be paid?

Some insurance companies may assign a counselor. Still do the research, still interview them….therapy is a freaking close and complex relationship you want to trust who you talk to.   Please, be aware that sometimes trusting your counselor takes time.

“Courage doesn’t happen when you have all the answers. It happens when you are ready to face the questions you have been avoiding your whole life.”
Shannon L. Alder

Most important step – pray, meditate, listen to your gut, or whatever term you use to check in with your emotional and spiritual self.  A counselor taps into every part of your life.  If for some reason you don’t believe the person is right for you – try someone else.  You might not even be able to express in words the problem, it could be as simple as their office smells funny or complex as they remind you of your abuser in looks or mannerisms.

Another important factor, do you feel the counselor believes what you are saying?  I learned recently that this is an important factor.

Through out this website I will often recommend counseling.  I did 10 years of counseling with two different counselors and starting work with a third counselor.  I believe counseling works, I’ve done it and I know other people that have done it.

What counseling is NOT:

Counseling is NOT easy.

Counseling is NOT a sign of weakness.

The counselor does NOT fix you.

Counseling is NOT for everyone.  If you are not ready to change, not ready to face your demons, not ready to open your mouth, counseling might not be for you.

“An unresolved issue will be like a cancer with the potential to spread into other areas of your relationship, eroding the joy, lightness, love and beauty.”
Joyce Vissell

Articles I found on line.  Search words: how to choose your therapist


RM1_1574puzzle3smCounseling you bring in your puzzle pieces and learn to put your pieces back together.  I just happen to be a 10,000 piece puzzle.

3 thoughts on “Counseling

  1. My first counselor was assigned through the company’s insurance program. When I called for help I spoke with someone on the phone who did a preliminary evaluation. She needed to know a few basic things. She then gave me a number of a local office. Blessedly, she advised that I ask to speak to a woman. She then called the office to let them know I’d be calling. I called and they had an appointment available that week. It was with a man. I trusted my evaluator, and asked for a woman. I was informed she wouldn’t be available for three weeks. Making the decision to wait and sticking to the decision to ask for a woman was a big step in standing up for myself.

  2. I think it’s a good idea to “audition” a few if you can. Sometimes it’s just not the right “fit” despite their credentials. Traumatologists are more common now than in the past and credentials just mean they met the bare-bones minimum to practice in that specialty. I don’t have a preference for gender but I do want someone with a background in neuropsych and better yet, someone who starts with basics, ex: “How are you eating? How are you sleeping?”
    And yes, yes, yes! How do they handle emergencies? Do they have an on-call service/some way to be reached after hrs.?
    They should spend a LOT of time developing the relationship, the trust between you. I’m not looking for a quick fix but I am looking for someone who not only knows their specialty but *how* that applies to me and my situation in terms of remediation. Sometimes (at this stage) I just need a “Tune-Up” but other times I’ve needed a lot more than that, especially initially. Losses of any kind whether physical or metaphorical resurrect residue from previous “losses” for me so assistance with integrating loss has remained a major theme for me throughout the years.

    I’m going for a “Tune Up” as my best friend of many decades is facing a major medical challenge. I’m leaving tomorrow to stay with her for about a week while she undergoes medical testing. I’m scared for her and me too: I know we’ll muddle through-we always have. She is my only remaining “Family” and my dearest one. We spoke today about contingency plans for all possible “outcomes.” She knows I’m with her no matter what she chooses to do and I’ll stay (move in essentially) as long as she needs assistance.
    We’ve laughed together for years; now we can cry together. I can’t do this alone as I did taking care of my late DH. I need a “Tune Up” so it’s back to my “old” shrink for an app’t. tomorrow before I leave. This guy has been a part of my “team” for decades and knows me well so having an established relationship at this time has been a real gift.
    Deep breath. Uncertainty is the most challenging mental state to live with, IMO and experience.

    • I like the idea of a tune up. Unfortunately, both of my counselors moved. I am going to wait awhile before tackling the idea of another counselor or maybe just not for awhile. Hoping your friend does OK and the medical staff does what needs to be done for best outcome.

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