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PTSD How To Choose a Therapist

September 20, 2011

From Jean Dzierzynski, Ph.D, Psy. D., Counseling South Orange County Blog

I can’t even begin to guess how often I’ve heard this question.  Even knowing as much as I do about therapy, this question is still hard to answer. You can search through available lists of therapists but these lists can be further confusing.  I am asked “What is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?  What do all the letters behind someone’s name mean?”  Keep in mind that therapy involves a very important relationship between you and your therapist, and you are dealing with important issues in your life.   So the answer is, the initials and/or specialties mean nothing if you don’t feel comfortable with this person.

Even when someone asks me for a referral, I have to be careful to try and make sure I am sending them to someone that I know is well trained.  But, ultimately it is you, the patient, who must decide about what feels comfortable to you.

So, I would say, above all other things, it is the relationship.  That is to say. the LCSW, MFT, Psychologist Ph.D, Psychoanalyst Psy.D. or any other mental health provider has to be right for you and it is perfectly alright to audition them before you decide to start.  The truth is that they are evaluating you , as well, to see if they feel you are a fit for them and their practice too.  

Therapy is a very intimate and trusting relationship and it is important that you are happy with your selection but perhaps more importantly if you have a problem that needs resolving do start and make that first call.

With PTSD there is an additional layer to be considered and that is that they understand PTSD and this often takes training and education as well as experience. Be sure to ask questions if you are concerned or confused.

One thing I would recommend and that is to be careful not to quit when things start getting
difficult. I have found that often times this is when most of the progress is being made. Good Luck in your search!!