Choose a Therapist for PTSD Treatment

Edited by Sobi, Eng, Grimm, Doug Collins

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How to Find a Therapist to Treat PTSD

For treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), it is important to find a therapist who has experience and specializes in the treatment of trauma and PTSD.

Depending on your insurance, you may be required to get a referral from your primary care physician. Now is also a good time to have a complete physical to rule out any health issues that may be affecting your PTSD. Unfortunately, many physicians may not know any therapists with trauma experience. Likewise, some insurance companies will require that you choose from a list of pre-approved therapists, which may make a referral difficult.

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If you aren't required to select from a list of therapists, and feel comfortable asking friends or family, see if they can recommend a therapist. However, keep in mind that just because a therapist is right for one person, does not mean they are right for you. You can also call your local mental health clinic, hospital, or counseling centers for recommendations.

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When seeking out a therapist, it is important that you have trust in your therapist and feel comfortable and safe talking to him or her. Sometimes there are personality clashes. In such cases, no one did anything wrong. The two people just don't mesh, and the best thing for everyone is to seek out another therapist.

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There are many types of therapists, but it is recommended that you seek out those with at least a master's degree (M.S., M.S.W., C.S.W., M.A.). The degree gives some assurance that the individual has had schooling and training in the mental health arena. Just remember that the credentials do not mean that they all are experts in treating PTSD, you must ask what their experience is.

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    They may have; Doctors of Philosophy (Ph.D.), or Psychology (Psy.D.) They are trained in assessing and diagnosing and can provide appropriate treatment. Psychologists cannot prescribe medications; they must refer you to a psychiatrist for medications.
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    Social Workers
    Clinical Social Workers (CSW). Clinical social workers credentials may vary by state.
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    Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Counselors
    Marriage and family therapists (LMFT), and professional counselors (LPC) have a master's degree
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    Pastoral counselors
    These are clergy who have a degree from a seminary or rabbinical school and may have additional training in therapy. M.Div. (Master of Divinity) or Th.D. (Doctor of Theology)
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    These are medical doctors (M.D.s), who also have a degree with a four-year psychiatry specialty.
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Are You Currently in a PTSD or Personal Crisis?

If you are having thoughts of harming yourself or others, contact 911 (in the US) and/or the US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

For non-emergency help, the following web sites offer assistance, can help you locate a therapist, and will provide free information about PTSD and available treatments:

Good Trauma Therapy and Good Trauma Therapists

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    Offerings from the Therapist
    They must give respect, and information regarding your issues and course of treatments. Are they connecting to you? Do you feel validated? Do you feel they are listening to what you are saying? Are they responsive to you?
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    Everyone has boundaries, and therapists can and do share some of their personal information when they believe it would be helpful and appropriate. Both the therapists and the patient's boundaries should always be respected.
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    Clinical Skills
    The therapist should have a range of skills to be able to address the needs of the patient. They should assist with empowering the patient.
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    Are your goals of therapy being met? Do you feel safe in therapy? Are your symptoms being managed? Are you working through your traumatic experience?
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  • What to Look for in a PTSD Therapist

    • Teaching: A therapist will find ways to teach you more effective coping strategies.
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    • Therapy sessions: These are not forced talk sessions. Your feelings and experiences should always be respected. You should feel safe and reasonably comfortable. They should always maintain a professional behavior.
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    • Differences: A therapist should encourage you to express yourself even when you do not agree. They should be willing to resolve issues that crop up between the two of you and not harbor ill feelings towards you. It is fine for you to disagree.
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    • Success: Expect improvements to take time and expect there to be set-backs, this is normal. With time, you will be able to develop new or better coping skills, have increased independence and a general increased positive satisfaction in your life.

    If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.


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    Categories : Noindexed pages | Mental Health | Military

    Recent edits by: Grimm, Eng, Sobi

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