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The Importance of a Trauma-Informed Therapist

Not every therapist is going to be equipped to help you with your PTSD! While anyone can tell you that they've worked with a lot of PTSD survivors, this doesn't mean a therapist (Please note the word THERAPIST throughout this article. I am not a therapist, I am a life coach. This is totally different and I highly encourage each of my clients to work with a therapist at the same time they're working through my life coaching program.) is good at it or that they're truly equipped to guide you toward the healing you deserve. For this to make sense, you must understand that PTSD treatment and recovery is a complex process. Your therapist will need to truly understand the science behind it and the important components of healing.

Tips for Finding a Trauma-Informed Therapist

Finding a trauma-informed therapist will require you to do your due diligence (a.k.a., research). Here are the steps you should take to make this happen:

  • Connect with a trauma-informed therapist. They will hold special certification in trauma treatment. Of course, they should also hold more traditional training (e.g. cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy) as well. Nevertheless, the additional training in alternative processes (e.g. EMDR, EFT, NLP, hypnosis) will be greatly beneficial.

  • Choose a therapist who specializes in your originating trauma (e.g. sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse). The more experience your therapist has working with your "form" of trauma, the more effective they will be at navigating, guiding, and demystifying the process for you.

  • Interview therapists. You're a consumer of the professional's service. Just like you wouldn't buy a product without first doing some research, you shouldn't enlist in therapy with someone who doesn't answer your questions in a way that makes sense to you. If a therapist isn't willing to have an open discussion about their training, work history, and success rate, move on. Make sure you undertake this process prior to working with a therapist so you can establish safety and control from the onset.

The work doesn't end with finding a trauma-informed therapist. Instead, the work is only now beginning...

Working with a Trauma-Informed Therapist

Finding a trauma-informed therapist is an important first step in your healing journey. From there you must learn to trust the therapist you've chosen. Remember, this is someone whom you'll be working collaboratively and cooperatively with them for therapy to work. Considering all the hurt we've been through in our past, this is frequently one of the hardest parts of finding a new therapist because we struggle to trust anyone. There are some things that you can do to help guide you in the right direction - that of trusting your therapist.

Start by Rethinking Trust

The easiest way to gain trust in your therapist is to focus on them. Initially, you'll want to observe them from the outside where you feel safe.

Learn to Trust Yourself First

Unfortunately, you probably don't trust yourself to detect situations that make you feel unsafe or to respond assertively when necessary. I know I had this issue and it's also quite commonly found in those who come from a dysfunctional family.

Ask Your Therapist to Help You Feel Comfortable

Your trauma-informed therapist will expect you to be wary but since they don't know you well they don't understand the precise nature of your fears. Remember, your therapist also has fears - mainly they don't want to distress you. Help yourself and your therapist by telling them when your fears are starting to distract you. A good therapist will try their best to address the issue because they understand it's in the session's best interest to do so.

View Your Trauma-Informed Therapist as a Partner

You don't know your therapist in the beginning and you've brought with you distrust issues too. When your trauma has been brought on by people, being in a small room with someone can trigger you. This is something you can reduce by anticipating it ahead of time. You should also disclose this problem to your therapist.

Understanding the Negativity Bias

Due to our active trauma memory, we view new situations with a negativity bias which makes our lives an almost constant struggle because we're easily discouraged and become hopeless. We grow accustomed to chronic stress and fail to notice how it's warped our outlook.

The Bottom Line...

With the right treatment and team, you CAN heal from both your child and domestic abuse. However, you must be willing to discover and explore your unique path to healing. Doing this with those who've been trained to help PTSD survivors will make a huge difference here. As such, I invite you to become an active member of this site and learn as much as you can so you can heal. For those who are here to learn, I encourage you to support Healing Family Trauma Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, PA so that together we can help bring this healing to those who need it the most.

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