What to Look for in a Trauma Therapist

Many people wait months or even years before reaching out for help from a therapist. Survivors of trauma in particular can feel shame and be fearful to discuss the event. This often leads to them feeling hopeless believing that there isn’t anyone who can help them let alone understand what is happening to them. Feeling overwhelmed and lost can lead trauma survivors to seek medical treatment from their physicians. And although medications can be very helpful to individuals with trauma it does not provide them with the help that they need to heal from their traumatic experiences.

Trauma therapy is now more effective than ever! More and more therapist have been trained and know how to treat clients with trauma. Here are 5 keys things to look for in selecting a trauma therapist.

  1. Connection and attunement– They say that people know within the first few seconds whether they like someone or not. Because therapy is a very personal experience it is important to feel comfortable and safe with your therapist. Clients should get a “good” feeling about their therapist even from the first phone call they make. Skilled trauma therapists will use their voice tone to convey empathy and connect with you. They are skilled at asking you questions about your trauma without re-traumatizing you. They will show great respect for you and your experiences. During treatment they will be use their attunement skills to know when to help ground you and bring you into the present moment and when to encourage you through processing a tough memory from the past.
  2. Confidence– It takes alot for someone to reach out for help. When you finally do reach out you will want to know that your therapist is confident in being able to help you. You will know this by the questions they ask you about your trauma and if they can articulate a plan for how they can help you. They will have ideas about how to start the work, tell you what you can expect in treatment, and be able to answer any questions you might have about your treatment and the process. They will view you as the expert of yourself and see their job as a knowledgeable guide on your path to wellness.
  3. Knowledge of the brain– Trauma therapists should understand the latest developments of brain based science and treatments. With the advances in brain imaging and greater developments of the science of the brain they should be able to explain what is happening inside your brain and how their treatments will not just help you to feel better but help your brain to function differently.
  4. Knowledge of you– Every person is different. Even though as humans we have common responses to trauma each person should be treated by their therapist as a unique and special individual. Your trauma therapist should get to know your strengths as well as your struggles. They will  develop a treatment plan that is specific to you. The therapist should be flexible in working with you and readjust their focus depending on where you need to go in therapy to get better. They will view you from a strengths perspective, as a whole person, not damaged or broken.
  5. Results-You should know within the first few sessions if your treatment is working for you. You will notice both subtle shifts in your mood and insights as well as big shifts in your overall feeling of wellness, ability to feel calmer, be able to sleep better, breathe easier, be more relaxed and more at ease with others.
    Angi Smith, LMHC and Lemecia Lindsey, LICSW

    Angi Smith, LMHC and Lemecia Lindsey, LICSW


    We are trauma trained therapists at Vancouver EMDR Therapy and have the qualities and skills listed above to help you.  Angi Smith, LMHC has immediate openings. Call her today to get started. Please call (503) 314-9337 to schedule a appointment.