We understand that many of us do not relish the idea of going to therapy (the terms “therapy” and “counseling” are largely interchangeable). We might have the idea that we’ll have to lie down on a couch and talk about our mommy issues, or maybe we think therapy is only for crazy people.
Obviously, we’d prefer to do it on our own rather than find a therapist. We get that, but there is tremendous value in NOT doing this alone, and instead working with a licensed mental health professional.
It is valuable to get feedback from someone who can provide an objective, third-person perspective, that is 100% on our side, and sincerely wants what is best for us. Moreover, our therapist is not our friend. This is a good thing to understand because a therapist can tell us what we need to hear instead of what we want to hear. Our therapist will not always agree with us and will often challenge our understanding, point out negative self-talk, and ask us tough questions.
The word “therapist” is a generic term for someone who conducts therapy with clients. Many mental health professionals fall into this category. If possible, we recommend finding a licensed therapist with specialized training in treating PTSD; a specialist and not a generalist.
When someone has cancer, they don’t go to their family doctor for treatment; they go to an oncologist: someone who specializes in cancer. When our life is on the line, we want the best possible treatment. The same is true for mental health: therapists tend to specialize in specific treatment methods or specific client populations.
For example, I focus on combat-related PTSD and Moral Injury. While I can do other things, it’s not what I'm best at. I have amazing colleagues who specialize in eating disorders, adolescent-issues, depression, anxiety, and all manner of mental health issues, and if you come into my office with an experience that is better addressed with one of my colleagues, I will send you to them.
Finding a therapist who specializes in PTSD and has training in an evidence-based treatment for PTSD is smart, but it isn’t always easy. To find a PTSD specialist, we can get help from our health insurer’s website, or use our company’s employee assistance program (EAP). We can also find therapists on the internet by searching by the name of the evidence-based treatment and with our zip code (for example, “EMDR therapist Tampa 33607”).
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“If you believe change is possible, you want to change, and you are willing to do the work, you absolutely CAN get your life back.”