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.
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.
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