The first step in healing from trauma is getting help.You can't cure yourself.Healing from trauma requires you to support your weight with a therapeutic relationship so that the body parts that are traumatized recover.The trauma experienced by most people occurs between people - the nightmares of people who commit violence and terror against others: war, child abuse, sexual harassment, domestic violence.Most psychological trauma is recurrent relational trauma.And relational trauma must be cured in relationships.
One of the biggest barriers to healing from trauma is this kind of mind, "I don't need help, I can do it myself." This is a general sentence: "I don't need a therapist or group - I have my friend (our family.)"
Why?Looks like they can, right?They love us.We are happy with them, safe with them.In fact, it seems like they have to be the ones who cure us.They can listen to our problems, and often do them.They often listen without judgment when we tell our stories.They often have suggestions for us, and of course tell us that they love us.They can hug us tight and kiss us good night.Why isn't that enough?
We hope our friends and partners are on our side.When we feel bad, we want them to help us feel better, not to hold us accountable for change.It's funny, people automatically understand the needs of the partner therapist when the couple is having problems.Friends know that they cannot say what they need for both parties and are still 'loyal' to their friends, or not seen as 'side parties.'Healing relationships are like a partner therapist for both sides of themselves: the self who wants to change, grow or heal - and the part of the self that wants to stay the same, the feared part, or the unchanging.The role of a therapist is to hold these two realities - to be impartial, but to support both sides by creating an environment where both parties can grow and integrate.
How do I find help?What kind of help is the best?There is no 'perfect' guide.When people ask me what to look for, I give a fairly basic answer - what you want in a therapist or guide or a good consultant is what you are looking for in a good parent.You want someone who is consistent, patient, hopeful, and who knows that this trip is about you and your growth, not their needs or success.You want someone who knows about trauma or wants to learn.You want someone who can laugh at yourself and who can tolerate your emotions and feelings.You want someone who is willing to let you both make a mistake and who can talk about it when that happens.You want someone you can respect.You want someone whose basic premise: whatever it is, we can talk about it.And, you want someone who is right for you - where you feel safe, and where you feel like you will be understood and heard.
Finding the right person or group is mostly a temporary problem, you have to "try it for something."You have to see if they are suitable and the only real way to find out is to meet them and talk with them.That said, sometimes you don't get a lot of choices.Depending on your health care coverage, and where you can get help - sometimes there are limited options.But limited choices don't always mean bad care.Almost all the therapists I know have spent part of their careers on systems where they are the only choice for people who get help.And this situation is not much different from other aspects of your health.If you go to the emergency room, you usually don't interview the doctor.
All you need to do is see if the person or group you are looking for will be a suitable partner for your healing journey.Can I work with this person?If I have different opinions or have doubts about their capacity - can I ask about them?
Here are some questions for you to consider when you seek help:
What do you expect to get out of treatment?
What is the most difficult thing to come today?
What will help you speak?
What hinders you from taking care of yourself?
And here are some questions for you to ask your potential therapist:
How long have you worked in this field?
What do you enjoy about that?
How do you usually work with clients?
What happens if we are not approved?
What are your clients' expectations?
Have you worked with clients who have a history of previous trauma?
These questions are just the beginning, and you are free to ask anything that will help you feel more comfortable working with them.