March 8, 2019
By Lisa Keane, MAMFC, LPC-S, NCC
Special to The Alabama Baptist
Anyone affected by abuse should seek mental health care. After any major childhood trauma we can see long-term affects to the brain, physiological changes, struggles in future relationships and other impacts to daily functioning.
For these reasons finding a counselor who understands all these things can be a daunting task and can feel overwhelming. Here are some simple guidelines of what to look for should you or someone you know need help finding the best therapist for trauma processing and recovery.
- A licensed professional. When you seek counseling from someone who is licensed, you will know they have met certain educational and experiential criteria for licensure. You will also know they are bound by a code of ethics and must follow the health care laws of your state.
Trust and care
- Someone who understands trauma and its long-term effects on the brain. There are multiple studies that show trauma has long-term, lasting implications on our lives. You need to find a counselor who understands these impacts and is willing to help you understand how the trauma has affected you.
- A therapist who can tailor techniques, interventions and modalities that best meet your needs. You will want to ask if that therapist is trained in trauma-informed modalities and ask if they have experience helping people heal from your specific type of trauma.
- An open therapist who is willing to answer your questions. I often explain that finding the right therapist for you can feel like dating. You need to feel the freedom to interview your therapist and break up when you don’t feel it is the right fit for you. Therapy is very personal and requires you fully trust your therapist and feel comfortable with them in order to gain the greatest benefit from therapy.
- A therapist who will integrate your Christian faith into counseling. Not all Christian counselors are the same. Be willing to converse with them asking how they integrate faith, spirituality and psychology into their work.
To find out more about finding a trauma competent counselor read this in depth article from The American Psychological Association: https://www.apa.org/ed/resources/trauma-competencies-training.pdf.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Lisa Keane is clinical director of marriage and family and a registered play therapist-supervisor serving in the Birmingham area for Pathways Professional Counseling, a sister ministry of the Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministry.