The importance of choosing the right therapists:
It is vital to find competent therapists as you are entrusting one of the most precious things – your relationship to this person. Our own experiences of finding competent therapists was more hit and miss. For David it took a few goes, the first he liked and yet he lived too far away plus he was emigrating to the other side of the world. The second he outgrew after 12 months, the third more a coach who helped with his business and finally a therapist who he stayed with for the best part of a decade.
There are a number of articles on the web on finding a therapist. Some of these we like, others were not so won over by. Two we really like are by Alice Miller (Author of the excellent book, The Drama of the Gifted Child) and the second from Pete Walker who wrote one of the best books on complex PTSD.
Alice Millers words on finding a competent therapist:
Certainly, if I knew of some therapists who would be respectful enough to answer your questions; free enough to show indignation about what your parents have done to you; empathic enough when you need to release your rage pent up for decades in your body; wise enough to not preach to you forgetting, forgiveness, meditation, positive thinking; honest enough to not offer you empty words like spirituality, when they feel scared by your history, and that are not increasing your life-long feelings of guilt – I would be happy to give you their names, addresses and phone-numbers.
Unfortunately, I don’t know them, but I still like to hope that they exist. However, when I am looking for them on the Internet I find plenty of esoteric and religious offers, plenty of denial, commercial interests, traditional traps, but not at all what I am looking for. For that reason I gave you with my FAQ list tools for your own research. If a therapist refuses to answer your questions right from the start, you can be sure that by leaving him you can save yourself your time and your money. If you don’t dare to ask your questions out of your fear of your parents, your fear may be highly understandable. However, trying to do it anyway may be useful because your questions are important and by daring to ask them you can only win.
Which kind of questions am I allowed to ask? Whatever you need to know. But above all don’t forget to ask the candidate for your therapist about their childhood and their experiences during their training. Where did they get their training, what was helpful to her, what was not? How does they feel about the defeats, do they have the freedom to see what was wrong or do they protect people who damaged them? Do they minimize the damage? Were they beaten as a child? How did they value this experience? Are they really aware of its consequences for their later life, or are they denying its importance? Do they avoid the confrontation with their own pain? In the last case they will do everything to silence you, not always visibly.
Am I not intrusive when I ask so many questions? Not at all. You have the right to be sufficiently informed and she must have the courage, the awareness and the honesty to answer you in a proper way. Otherwise she is not the right person for you.
And Pete Walker’s suggestions:
A suitable therapist will be happy to answer your question about their approach and generally talk with you on the phone for at least five minutes before scheduling a meeting. Should the therapist respond to you in an aloof, critical or shaming way, I would immediately cross them off your list and keep looking. Finally, it is important to note that there are many untherapized therapists who are licensed to practice psychotherapy, and my experience is that these types are rarely able to work at the depth required for guiding Cptsd recovery. I believe it’s appropriate to ask a prospective therapist if they have done their own therapy. I would then at least expect from him/ her a response that they have and have found it helpful. Ideally, the therapist would also be willing to disclose that they have done their own family of origin work.
Walker, Pete. Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving