How to choose a therapist and tips on making your therapy useful
The therapy relationship is an intimate one. Finding a therapist who is both competent and caring is important. As in any relationship, the chemistry is important but trust also takes time so you may need to attend a couple of sessions before deciding on a therapist.
Figure out whether you’re the kind of person who can get an immediate sense of “fit,” or one who needs time and space to assess the situation. Pay attention to how you feel and trust your feelings. Ask people you know who believe that they are in “good” therapy to get names for you from their therapists. Look on the internet and check out national associations related to therapy such as E.A.C. ( European Association of Counsellors), I.A.C.P (Irish Association of Counselling Psychotherapists), or A.C.I (Addiction Counsellors of Ireland). Ask any of your health care providers for a referral.
When you contact a therapist these questions may be useful to ask:
Type of license to practice.
• Years of experience providing psychotherapy.
• Any specialist training.
• Therapeutic methods used.
• Use of supervision/consultation.
• Availability to fit your schedule
• What is the fee and policy for cancellation
• Is there a charge for telephone consultation or calls between sessions?
• Emergency procedures.
When you are in therapy, remember it is important that you try to be assertive to get what you need. Saying what is on your mind and speaking up for your rights are not always easy to do in therapy or indeed in other life situations however you will know you are in a safe space in therapy when you notice being more comfortable speaking your mind.
Remember also that the therapist is your employee: you have hired and are paying for his/her expertise and time. It’s time to review your situation if you believe the therapist is less experienced than was claimed in the advert or if you believe the therapist direction does not feel right or helpful.
In my experience, a good therapist is an authentic person who helps you meet your goals for therapy and make the changes you want in your life.
After Trauma – Normal Reactions to Abnormal Events
After a trauma there a range of responses that people may experience. These may occur to the person directly experiencing the trauma first hand, those who have witnessed the event occurring or by being someone involved helping the victims of the trauma.
These reactions are normal and may be triggered by persons, places, or something associated with the trauma.
Physical reactions include: sudden sweating, headaches, stomach aches, heart palpitations, changes in appetite, disrupted sleep pattern, being startled by unexpected touch, hyper activated by sudden noise.
Emotional reactions include: fearful and anxious state, sense of shock and disbelief, being hypervigilant, dysregulation and emotional swings from tears to angry outbursts, nightmares and intrusive thoughts and worrying, with an increased need to control everyday experiences.
Other common emotional reactions include flashbacks where it feels like the trauma is happening in the moment, self-blame and shame and avoiding anything associated with the traumatic event.
These are NORMAL reactions to ABNORMAL events and some helpful ways to develop a coping strategy include: being connected to others, especially those also affected by the event, plenty of elevated exercising of the body such as jogging, cycling or walking, relaxation especially yoga and listening to relaxing guided imagery. Making use of massage and progressive muscle relaxation. Making a commitment to your activation through a personally safe and meaningful activity every day is another important emotional resource as is use of music, art and lots of loving touch and hugging and talking to a good listener about your experiences. Writing about your experiences also supports recovery and finally your attention to the type of diet you have can also be helpful especially making use of foods high in tryptophan activators such as turkey, baked potatoes and cream-based soups, eggs, salmon, pineapples. Tryptophan is an amino acid involved in the synthesizing of serotonin which is one of our bodies important mood stabilizers.
Trauma can last well beyond the time of the event and may take weeks or sometimes years to fully regain wellbeing and emotional balance from the effects of trauma. Pacing yourself is important and it is especially important for your loved ones to remember this when they are supporting you on your journey towards wellness.
What else helps. Individual, group, or family therapy is helpful, and in particular, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). EMDR is a phenomenally rapid and wonderful therapeutic method. Recovery from a traumatic event can have unexpected benefits with
survivors finding that they develop inner strength and increase in self-awareness, and renewal experiencing of joy and serenity.