How to Hire a Therapist

About twice a month I get comments by people saying their pain’s so severe they’re considering self-harm (there are 115 pages here with 800 comments.) If you’re serious, please immediately call your local suicide help line or 911 and talk to someone. This is no job for the internet. It’s an emergency for the live, compassionate people on the suicide line who are trained to help.

If you’re not serious, please don’t frighten me for your safety.
It’s ok to talk that we have so much pain, we feel like ending our life.
I say it, too.  But I always add: I’ll never act it out, because:
1. I see how it hurts my friend whose spouse committed suicide;
2. I love my sister too much to hurt her;
3. Suicide is foolish.  It’s a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
4. Feelings feel like they’ll kill us — but in fact feelings can’t kill us.

So if you’re just talking, make that clear–then find a therapist!

How to Hire a Good Attachment-based Psychotherapist

1. Take it slow;
2. You’re the boss;
3. Interview as many as you like. Don’t settle for anything less than deep compassion. If you don’t feel their compassion, call someone else.
4. If anyone makes you feel bad, drop them; go on to the next interview.

My current wonderful attachment-based psychotherapist never made me feel pressured about how fast to make an appointment, even on day 1.  He has plenty of clients so when he returned my first call, we discussed calmly, what would be a mutually convenient time to meet. My first meeting was no cost.  We both wanted to see how we felt about it.

Hint: Did our call or voice mail to a candidate therapist sound so upset that they feel pushed and really worried for us?  So, now they’re trying to jam us into their already-jammed schedule?  Our error. Maybe they’re kind but have a full schedule.

Call and calmly leave a message being totally honest. Tell them everything you might tell me — you’re afraid, you need to go slow, can we talk at a time when they’re not too rushed, you’d like to meet IF we can talk slowly and find a mutually agreeable time.  Confess your fears that a therapist could blame you and say “it’s your fault.”  Find out how they react to that!

Be totally honest with each therapist. Keep telling each one that you fear being told it’s all your fault, or whatever you do fear — until you find someone who understands your fear right away.  The right person will immediately assure you that your fear is natural!  And they would never say it’s your fault because that’s inhumane (and it’s not true).

When we’ve suffered deep childhood trauma, we get attachment wounds. 50% or more of therapists in the US are not qualified to treat deep childhood trauma.  Maybe in Europe, too. So we face both 1. Our attachment trouble inside, and also 2. Inadequately trained therapists outside. Ouch.

But we are mammals, and we must attach to other mammals for us heal.  We can not heal alone in the world.

A good therapist lets us feel their compassion on the first meeting. You would feel it.  That is how they help us heal.

YOU are the Boss

YOU are the boss hiring an employee!  Keep interviewing until you feel a person’s compassion.

If they are distant or nice but merely rational, all head talk, no compassion?  Don’t hire them.  Worst: if they make you feel it’s your fault, walk out, go interview another therapist.  “It’s Not Your Fault” as Robin Williams told Will Hunting.  Interview 100 people if that’s how long it takes to find a compassionate being.  They’re human, too.

Just the act of saying “No” to a lot of unqualified therapists, setting high standards, then going out on more interviews can give us a helpful sense of power.

Second, a good therapist will also send you to support groups for abused children or church groups, to find a friend or sponsor — because we really need 2 or 3 mammals in our “Life Team.”  I was lucky to find friends in choir who wanted to work on deep grief with me.  If all else fails, we can always find a sponsor at Al Anon.  There’s an Al Anon near you. See Find a Support Group.

I tap (EFT) every day. I flick my eyes every night using EMDR and I shake like a polar bear every day sobbing with anger or fear or joy or all of that.

But it would NOT work without my attachment bond to my attachment-based psychotherapist and to my friends.

First we need the mammalian bonding to start to feel “safety inside.” Only second come procedures like tapping etc. Tapping for money, crazy body workers, yes the internet is full of people in it for the money or wrong emotional reasons. I don’t care!

I have done endless hours of tapping, EMDR, shaking, TRE and now I’m adding Neurofeedback — because these procedures work. There IS hope.

But the procedures ONLY worked AFTER I found a truly compassionate therapist and a “grief partner,” so I could build “safety inside.”

Tapping, EMDR etc are designed to bring up our deep feelings, which is great if we have other people for mammalian support and so we’re building safety inside.  Then we can afford to bring up the deep feelings, feel them, release them and that heals them.  After six months with my good therapist, I was able to even do the procedures  at home alone — only because I could imagine my therapist and my friends “sitting on my shoulder” at 3 am with me.  I could even leave a voice mail for my therapist 24 x7 .

But if we’re alone in the world, and then we use these procedures to bring up deep feelings?  Dangerous!  These same procedures can terrorize us.

With infant trauma, our deep feelings are terrifying. That’s why they say, “The mind is a dangerous place; don’t go in there alone!”

How I Healed

I suffered 3 bad therapists so I quit therapy for 3 years — but then I almost killed myself by trying to “do it myself,” a very bad idea. That’s why my book title is “DON’T try this at home.”   We MUST find a good therapist somehow.

So when I went back to therapy, I kept searching until I found a fourth, wonderful attachment-based psychotherapist. Then he supervised me while I did “body work” aka somatic healing and it worked, big time. This is what I did:

1. I got educated about attachment. For lay people it’s the same as bonding (specialists distinguish but we need not).  Details on attachment and bonding:

Also see Dr. Allan Schore’s 9-28-14 Oslo speech “The Most Important Years… the right brain and its importance,” on the neuroscience of in utero and neonatal attachment (real meat starts at minute 8) :

2.  I found a good attachment-based psychotherapist I can meet eye to eye weekly.  Only sitting with other mammals can heal us mammals. **What was damaged by a human attachment connection can only be healed by a new human attachment connection.**  My therapist locator page:

3. With my therapist, I did a ton of body work healing, of which there are several schools. I stumbled first on “Somatic Experiencing” by Dr.  Peter A. Levine. I used his book “Healing Trauma.” See

4. After that,  If you’ve got a good therapist and want more healing–not instead of mammals but in addition– recently I’ve also added Neurofeedback:

See also on my website:
–My recent interview summarizing how I healed

–My page Resources:

–My page Healing Tools for Trauma:


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