z under construction-Hiring a Therapist

“Psychotherapy and Love” is now here: http://attachmentdisorderhealing.com/therapy-love/


“How to Hire a Good Therapist” – (still under edit)

About twice a month I get comments by people saying their pain’s so severe they consider self-harm or suicide (there are 115 pages on my site with 700 substantive 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 job for the live, compassionate people on the suicide help 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 Therapist

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 therapist 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 free, 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 and 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.

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 therapist and 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 therapist. 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: http://attachmentdisorderhealing.com/adult-attachment-interview-aai-mary-main/

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) : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KW-S4cyEFCc

2.  I found a good attachment therapist 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: http://attachmentdisorderhealing.com/resources/attachment-therapists-directory/

Nancy Thomas’ list of attachment therapists for adopted children, also worked for me as an adult: http://www.attachment.org/therapists/find-a-therapist-in-your-area/

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  http://attachmentdisorderhealing.com/featured-topics/healing-body-work/

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: http://attachmentdisorderhealing.com/neurofeedback/

See also on my website:
–My recent interview summarizing how I healed http://attachmentdisorderhealing.com/first-podcast-1/

–My page Resources: http://attachmentdisorderhealing.com/resources/

–My page Healing Tools for Trauma: http://attachmentdisorderhealing.com/resources/tools/

end draft blog


Nothing else under construction just this minute… but I’m a constructive gal, so check back later…


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5 responses to “z under construction-Hiring a Therapist

  1. Pingback: Explaining Myself…So I Need Not Do It Over & Over (Shrink Spiel) – Unthawed Fury

  2. I am in the process of finding a good therapist, and it’s really hard! I’ve actually had many therapists for relatively short term periods from the time I was 16 to now (27). What had the most impact on me–other than my persistent digging into pain I knew I had that I could see was affecting my life in every way–was my dive into Jungian analysis in the last year. For the record, I do not recommend psychoanalysis because it was so disastrous for me. Essentially, I had moved away from home, which was very difficult in the first place, to return to school across the country. I wasn’t able to bond or find meaning in what I was doing and instead found myself looking for parental figures. I’ve always done that, but the distance made it very apparent. Both psychoanalytic processes were very regressive for me and wreaked havoc on my nervous system. It was hard for me to make choice that was not made out of desperation before, and now it takes seconds to go from 0 to 100. This complicates things when looking…

    • therapist. In general, it’s quite hard to meet my needs because of this sense of urgency and desperation.
      What would you recommend when in this place? My sense is neurofeedback and trauma sensitive yoga as good starting points, because they can help me to be a little less in constant survival mode and thus better able to make a holistic choice. But because the sense of safety I find in my body seems to disappear when I am triggered by interactions with the world (whether it be my family or the various demands of life), I find myself torn yet again. I have to start somewhere, though, right? Perhaps getting connected to my body as gently as possible is that place, since this is when my inner critic becomes most silent for a few moments and I can feel what I need. I would love any advice and experience related to this!

  3. I really need help! Do you know any good attachment therapists in Australia? I’ve recently realized I have attachment and other trauma but can’t find help. I feel so hopeless and exhausted.

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