Israelis have been very generous in offering assistance and support to all those who have experienced the direct onslaught of this summer’s war. In addition to clothing, food supplies, and “pampering” services, some therapists are offering help with post trauma difficulties. What do you do if you need therapeutic services to help cope with the traumatic aftermath of your experiences? How do you select the right therapist for you?
Here are a few tips:
1. Get 2 – 3 names of therapists and make an appointment with each one. Although it’s hard in the short term to have to repeat your story so often, it helps in the long term to find the right therapist for you.
2. Prepare a list of questions ahead of your meeting with the therapist. Be aware that you are receiving support from another person and as such it is perfectly natural to be proactive, rather than passively accepting help from someone who “knows more then you”. You are the expert on you and as such deserve to take the time to ask the therapist questions. For example; education, experience, and how would s/he describe their approach to therapy.
3. Be observant. Look around the space in which the therapist works. Does it feel right to you? Listen to not only the words the therapist uses but see if their tone of voice and their body language matches what the therapist is saying.
4. How flexible is the therapist? Yes, it is important to understand that you have to respect the therapist’s schedule, but if you are engaged in trauma work, it is legitimate to ask how the therapist is available between sessions. For example; can you call the therapist if you are having an anxiety attack or flashback to help talk you through it or assess what kind of support you need, is there an opportunity to reschedule for an earlier session time?
5. Does the therapist work in isolation of other professionals? Do you have a sense from how the therapist is describing their approach that s/he is making references to colleagues or is discussing the potential of identifying or creating a support team for you?
6. Connection has to come from both sides. Because you are engaging with another person, it is perfectly legitimate to ask for a “trail period” for the both of you to get a sense of each other to see if there is a connection and the potential to move forward. The therapist’s response to this will communicate a lot about him or her.
Once you have chosen to work with a therapist, remember:
1. Trust yourself that you will do, remember, say or feel only what you are able to. No therapist has any control over you to make you do something that you are not ready for.
2. Bring into your therapy work anything that is significant to you; a song, a poem, a dream, a photograph.
3. Pace yourself: in between the hard stuff, make sure there are breathers.
4. Trust your gut feelings or instincts: if the therapist is making you feel uncomfortable, find a safe way to communicate this or find a respectful way of terminating your work with that therapist.
Your therapy experience and your therapy work are there to help you through a difficult time. The hard work will result in a safer and better you.
Wishing you all the success and strength in your journey!