Do You Have "Trauma"?
Trauma is "an emotional response to a terrible event" as defined by the American Psychological Association. In my *humble* opinion as a licensed therapist, trauma is something we all experience throughout our life spans to varying degrees. Your trauma may have been a car accident or something your mother said to you when you were eight years old. Whether it is perceived as "big or small", "acute or chronic”, it is something that stirred your nervous system at its very core and changed the way you experience yourself and the world.
If you found yourself reading this post, CONGRATULATIONS! You can trust that you are on your way to feeling better. Seeking help for healing from trauma is an immensely courageous and transformative step in your healing journey. SO, take note of THIS: Trauma-informed care.
Trauma-informed care is a crucial aspect of effective mental health services, as it recognizes the profound, intricate, and confusing impact that trauma can have on a person's life. In this blog post, I will discuss my tips on how to find a trauma-informed therapist who can provide the support and expertise you need. I'll also explore the benefits of EMDR therapy and ways to locate EMDR therapy near you.
Understanding Trauma-Informed Care
Trauma-informed care is an approach I learned early on in my Social Work education that emphasizes safety, trustworthiness, empowerment, choice, and collaboration in therapeutic settings. It recognizes that individuals who have experienced trauma may have unique needs, triggers, and responses that require specialized attention and sensitivity. When searching for a trauma-informed therapist, keep these key principles in mind:
Safety: A trauma-informed therapist prioritizes your safety and creates a secure environment for you to share your experiences without judgment or harm.
Trustworthiness: Look for a therapist who is reliable, honest, and transparent in their communication. Trust is essential in the therapeutic relationship.
Empowerment: A trauma-informed therapist will empower you to be an active participant in your healing process, respecting your autonomy and choices.
Choice: You should always have a say in your treatment plan and goals - with your therapist guiding - rather than imposing decisions on you.
Collaboration: Effective trauma therapy involves collaboration between you and your therapist, working together to identify and address your needs.
Finding a Trauma-Informed Therapist
The issue with this is that there are WAY TOO MANY therapists (and life coaches) out there providing mental health services that are not trauma-informed or do not take this concept seriously. I have had so many clients come to me and say their past therapist invalidated or did not take their feelings seriously, which can be EXTREMELY DAMAGING to an individual who has been brave enough to seek out therapy.
Do I expect every therapist to be perfect? No, of course not, they are human beings
too. However, trauma-informed care is basic therapy 101 and all therapists should be able to do the vast majority of work from this lens with mistakes being far-and-few-between.
Without further ado, here are some steps to help you find and assess a trauma-informed therapist:
Do a Google search: You can get a feel for therapists in your area by searching terms like "trauma-informed therapy near me," "EMDR therapy near me" or "EMDR therapist in San Francisco CA."
Seek Referrals: Ask your primary care physician, friends, family, chiropractor or other mental health professionals for recommendations. They may know of therapists who specialize in trauma-informed care.
Research Credentials: Verify the therapist's credentials and qualifications. Ensure they are licensed and have relevant experience in trauma therapy. If you live in the state of California, you can find this information here.
Check Reviews and Testimonials: Online reviews and testimonials from past clients can provide valuable insights into a therapist's approach and effectiveness. In many areas it is considered unethical for therapists to have testimonials on their website, but you can look on their Psychology Today, Google My Business, LinkedIn, and even Yelp for client reviews and endorsements from colleagues.
Interview Potential Therapists: YES - you should "shop around" for the right fit when you are on the hunt for a therapist! It's essential to have an initial consultation or interview with prospective therapists. This allows you to assess their vibe, compatibility and their understanding of trauma-informed care. REMEMBER: you are interviewing to "hire" them to provide you with a service.
Ask About Modalities: Inquire about the therapeutic modalities they use. Many trauma survivors find Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy to be highly effective. EMDR therapy is a specialized approach to trauma treatment that has gained recognition for its effectiveness in reducing the symptoms of trauma. EMDR therapy helps individuals process traumatic memories by using guided eye movements or other bilateral stimulation techniques.
Finding a trauma-informed therapist who provides EMDR therapy near you is a significant step toward healing from trauma. Remember to prioritize safety, trust, empowerment, choice, and collaboration in your therapeutic journey. With the right therapist and treatment approach, you can move forward on your path to recovery and reclaim your well-being. Don't hesitate to seek the support you deserve. Your healing journey starts with taking that first step!
Questions? Don't hesitate to contact me.
Samantha Mero, LCSW, EMDR Certified (EMDRIA), PMH-C