Referrals – guidelines for people seeking a therapist

PROSPECTIVE REFERRALS: At this time we are not taking new clients. To help find a good therapist there are guidelines listed below.

A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.
Lao Tsu

At different times, everyone experiences difficulties, losses and major life transitions. Many people also experience trauma as adults or children as a consequence of:

The impact of such events and experiences can have long lasting and far reaching consequences to a person’s quality of life, health, work, earning capacity and relationships. As a result of trauma or extreme stress it is not uncommon for people to experience distressing symptoms and /or engage in harmful behaviours:

These experiences and behaviours can feel frightening and overwhelming. Some people may try to hide or minimize the impact of these experiences from others, fearing they are ‘crazy’ or not ‘normal’. This may be accompanied by a belief that no-one can, or would want to, help them.

In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity
Albert Einstein

We recommend those seeking assistance select a professional who understands and is skilled in working with the consequences of extreme stress and trauma. She or he can support your inherent resilience and ability to heal from extreme challenges, deep pain and sorrow. It is possible to transform these experiences in order to live well and enjoy life.

7 Points to Consider In Seeking a Therapist:

1) Does the therapist seek regular case consultations or supervision with someone experienced with trauma, dissociative disorders and PTSD (ie. has had at least  several such clients and over 10 years experience with successful outcomes, or as outlined in point 4 below)?

2) Is the therapist and his or her case consultant or supervisor versed in the principles and strategies outlined in the reading list below?

3) Has the therapist attended regular training in this field with experienced local and international clinicians in the trauma field?

4) Is there an existing good relationship with a therapist who is not experienced in therapy for trauma but is willing to seek ongoing guidance through case consultation as well as attend training to develop core skills and principles of trauma-informed therapy?

5) Does the therapist provide clarity about expectation of boundaries and are these clearly communicated? This is preferable in written format to avoid confusion regarding session times, payment, cancellations, safe / any touch versus intrusive or uncomfortable, notice re holidays, agreements re contact outside of sessions should that be likely etc. A trauma informed therapist will consistently actively respect these boundaries. The rights and responsibilities of both a client and therapist deserve respect and acknowledgment.

6) Does the therapist appreciate that symptoms and experiences reflect a problem and are not the problem per se?

7) Does the therapist have skills to facilitate strategies to assist with the symptoms and process difficult emotions at a safe pace, in collaboration with what the individual is ready and willing to work with?

A reliable, experienced and compassionate therapist can provide support to navigate troubled waters. Guidance at a safe pace can assist in rebuilding what has been shaken and to transform fragmentation into a cohesive and creative expression.

Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow”.       Mary Ann Radmacher

Recommended reading:

Anderson, F.G., (2021) Transcending Trauma: Healing Complex PTSD with Internal Family Systems Therapy, PESI

Boon, S., Steele, K., Van der Hart, O. (2011) Coping With Trauma-Related Dissociation, Norton

Briere, J. (2019) Treating Risky and Compulsive Behavior in Trauma Survivors, Guilford Press

Courtois, C. (2010). Healing the Incest Wound: Adult Survivors in Therapy, 2nd EditionWW Norton & Company.

Fisher, J. (2009). Psychoeducational Aids for Working with Psychological Trauma. 8th Edition.

Fisher, J. (2017) Healing the Fragmented Selves of Trauma Survivors: Overcoming Internal Self-Alienation, Routledge

Ferentz, L. (2015) Treating Self-Destructive Behaviors in Trauma Survivors: A Clinicians Guide (2nd Edition), Routledge

Ross, C. & Halpern, N. (2009) Trauma Model Therapy: A Treatment Approach For Trauma, Dissociation And Complex Comorbidity, Manitou Communications Inc.

Schwartz, R.C. Sweezy, M. (2020) Internal Family Systems Therapy (2nd Edition), The Guilford Press

van der Kolk, B. (2014) The Body Keeps The Score: Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma, Allen Lane

You will also find useful information about guidelines for trauma therapy on the websites below.

1800RESPECT: National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service 24/7