Much of therapy is built around the resolution of traumas big and small. It is through this self discovery a person comes to understand the meaning of the traumatic experience. Individuals who have experienced trauma are looking for resolution in treatment. Some people need to learn basic skills like assertiveness and communication. Others need to take charge of intense feelings generated by the trauma. Other people need to know how to get in touch with their feelings rather than getting numb. The process of finding that resolution is two-fold. It requires dual attention- attention to the trauma of the past and the life being lived today. Many people come to treatment stating "I can no longer live like this". They want to know what will make them feel better, safer and competent today. It is vital an individual knows how to live life today. If today is too difficult, the past can seem removed. The past has affected today. In order to heal there will need to be attention given to the past and how that past affects daily life.
Healing from trauma is usually too difficult to do alone. Therapy provides those who have significant hurts, particularly childhood hurts, a place of safety to explore the powerful feelings that are part of healing. The therapist becomes a guide who can help you see and understand those thoughts, feelings and beliefs in a new context. Too often children are hurt by the very people who are expected to provide safety, comfort and nurturance. When a child is raised in an environment where they cannot depend on people, the thought of therapy can be frightening. If a child cannot trust his/her caregivers, how can that adult trust a stranger? At times, attending therapy is the final risk an individual is willing to take.
Taking the risk of beginning therapy is frightening. Therapy is a different kind of relationship. The client will share personal information, feelings and pieces of his/her life. The relationship is one-sided, with the client sharing his/her information with the therapist. A client may have had a negative treatment experience in the past or have heard about unethical and hurtful therapists. As human beings, we all tend to resist change- even positive change. Sometimes it can feel worse to begin to change. Uncertainty and fear can trap us in the life we have always known. At times an individual must ask if the pain of today outweighs the fear of change. If so, therapy can be the first step towards a new life.
It is important for an individual to feel reasonably safe with a new therapist. There are some parts of a person that will not feel safe with anyone. Building a relationship of trust will be one of the primary goals to treatment. It is okay to interview a therapist before treatment begins to get a sense of the therapist and their philosophy on treatment. Research on the effectiveness in therapy has shown us that it is not the specific technique a therapist employs, but the connection between the therapist and client. A client working through trauma issues will want to know the therapist has special training in the area of trauma. Most therapists will talk to you on the phone before scheduling the first appointment. It is acceptable to ask the therapist about their prior experience and training working with trauma. Use that phone call to get a sense of the therapist.
An individual needs to remember as they embark on a therapeutic journey of self discovery, his/her are the ones in charge. The client, with the guidance of the therapist, helps to set the treatment goals. The client has a right to privacy and confidentiality. The client will pace the therapy, although at times the therapist will push certain issues to help the client move through disturbing material. If at any time a client feels uncomfortable with a therapist, they have the right to address this issue directly.