Choosing a Therapist: Part 1

I think I’ll write a series about therapy, probably broken up by a book review or cute video for littles. I’m pretty well qualified, as I was a clinical social worker for seventeen years and have been in therapy since forever.

First step is choosing a therapist. For many of you, one question arises immediately, “How can I find somebody who works with survivors of ritual abuse and mind control?” For everybody, a really important question is “How can I tell if a therapist is any good?”

If you want somebody who deals with RA/MC, write me and I will direct you to the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation, which has a “Find a Therapist” page, and a colleague of mine who keeps an extensive list of therapists, not all of whom belong to the ISSTD. There are also some other resources outside the US, especially in England, that I can tell you about.

However, I firmly believe that knowledge about RA/MC is not the most important asset of a therapist. A person’s character and attitude are far more important. Somebody who has never worked with an RA/MC survivor may be eager to learn and will read and seek supervision in order to become helpful to you, while somebody who has worked in the field for twenty, twenty-five, thirty years may be understandably burned out by now. I also firmly believe that no therapy at all is far better than bad therapy. You have a lot of inner resources and you do not need to settle for somebody incompetent or somebody who will actively harm you or take advantage of your trust and need.

I suggest starting off making a list of characteristics that a therapist absolutely must have, characteristics that would be nice but not necessary, characteristics that are totally unacceptable, and characteristics that you could put up with if you had to.

My list looks like this:

Must have:
Integrity, honesty
Intelligence
Willingness to learn
Good boundaries
Sees self as equal to me, not above me
Shares control of the work: sees us as partners

Nice to have:
Knowledge of RA, multiplicity, and mind control, in that order
Is in supervision
Good hypnotist
Within two hours’ drive
Social Worker or Marriage and Family Therapist

Absolutely not:

Doesn’t believe RA exists, doesn’t believe severe abuse or multiplicity is common
Sees self as an expert, a guru, as possessing special knowledge others don’t have
Seductive
Tries to make decisions for me, pushes own agenda
Tries to sell self
Can’t follow what I say
Talks about self a lot, contradicts me, interrupts a lot
Weird or dishonest money arrangements

Rather not:

On the obsessive side of life
Little sense of humor
Not much experience with trauma, incest
Irregular schedule
A lot younger than me

I hope your “Must have” and “Absolutely not” lists are pretty much the same as mine. And I hope the other two are different, as we all are individuals and have different wants and needs.

I’m going to stop here, because if you are looking for a therapist, making your lists is going take a lot of time and thought. If you are already in therapy,  these lists could become a useful tool for evaluating your therapist.

If you are having difficulties in therapy, remember that therapists are only people, and that they may have blind spots and annoying quirks just like everybody else. Also, there may be stuck points that have nothing to do with who the therapist is, so don’t jump to conclusions just yet. But if your therapist is breaking boundaries, wanting to adopt or seduce you, or telling you that your ritual abuse memories are a metaphor for your feelings about your parents, think seriously about finding somebody else! I’ll be going over all these issues later in this series.

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