Choose a Therapist for PTSD Treatment
Edited by Sobi, Eng, Grimm, Doug Collins
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- The Australian Veterans' Counselling and Other Health Services can provide help online or by phone at 1800 011 046.
- The Canadian Veterans Operational Stress Injury Social Support (OSISS) can be reached online or by phone at 1-800-883-6094 to talk to a peer who has been through similar experiences.
- The UK Veteran Program Combat Stress can help online, or you can call the 24-hour helpline at 0800 138 1619.
- The United States U.S. Veterans Affairs has a support area for PTSD.
- Help and information can be found through the Sidran Institute.
- Additional help can be found on the Help Guide organization's website.
Good Trauma Therapy and Good Trauma Therapists
- 1Offerings 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?
What to Look for in a PTSD Therapist
- Teaching: A therapist will find ways to teach you more effective coping strategies.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.