I'm lighting the long way home
September 21, 2019 7:30 PM   Subscribe

How do I find a good therapist who specializes in PTSD/C-PTSD, trauma/chronic childhood trauma, as someone not at all familiar with this type of therapy, the treatment options, or the language around these issues?

If I'm working off a list from my insurance agency or Psychology Today and having introductory appointments or phone calls, is there a different way I should evaluate a therapist for this purpose than I would for getting a therapist for depression or just to blow off some steam?

I live in Brooklyn and work in Manhattan. I'll also take recommendations on specific therapists or organizations through which I can find therapists. I saw in another recent question about finding a therapist the suggestion to use an employee assistance program, but when I tried this for depression several years ago they were so unhelpful it actually delayed my getting adequate treatment by a month, so I'm definitely not using them again.

Feel free to MeMail if you'd rather not leave a public response.

posted by unannihilated to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Filter on trauma counselor and make note of anyone who does EMDR
posted by nikaspark at 10:03 PM on September 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

Is it important to you to have a research-supported therapy? If it is, look for a therapist who can provide: Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), Prolonged Exposure (PE), and/or Eye Movement Desensitization Retraining (EMDR). All of these are of roughly equivalent efficacy for the average person (which you are totally not, right?), but there are differences among them. Most therapists that specialize in PTSD will be able to do only one or two of these, but a good therapist should be able to talk to you about all three and help you pick one to try first without claiming that the one they offer is "best." If the first one you try doesn't help you, try the others.
posted by shadygrove at 10:27 PM on September 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

The MeFi Wiki ThereIsHelp page has resources for Help with Finding a Therapist, including AskMe Threads About Finding A Therapist and Specific Therapist Recommendations.
posted by katra at 10:47 PM on September 21, 2019

Seconding shadygrove, except I usually do not recommend EMDR as a front line option unless there is nothing else available for reasons I’ve explained before. Therapists that do Cognitive Processing Therapy or Prolonged Exposure will refer to cognitive behavioral therapy a lot in their website and materials and will tell you they do one or both of those two things if you ask. There was a recent episode of This American Life where the reporter recorded herself getting Cognitive Processing Therapy, if you’re curious. (full disclosure, I was involved with this ep.)

Please memail me if I can help you find someone.
posted by quiet coyote at 11:27 PM on September 21, 2019 [6 favorites]

Agreeing that anyone who does EMDR will be familiar with trauma. You don’t actually have to do the EMDR but it’s a much more helpful filter than putting “trauma” into the Psychology Today search engine. I learned the hard way that therapists can check whatever box they feel like and all it might mean is that they once had a patient with that issue. (Thanks, guys! Super helpful!) EMDR practitioners will be better-versed in ways to treat trauma than the average therapist, and pretty much always have additional approaches that they use.
posted by corey flood at 5:26 AM on September 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

Hard agree for quiet coyote’s assessment re:EMDR. Please consider using Cognitive Processing Therapy and/or Prolonged Exposure as your “filters” in this search. I am a full-time researcher working on testing and refining treatments for PTSD and EMDR is very much....not treated seriously among my colleagues (exposure is amazing but the eye movements are hokum).

You could consider asking if your prospective therapist is a member of any professional societies — I’m partial to ABCT or ISTSS.
posted by Bebo at 11:03 AM on September 22, 2019

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