trying to find a therapist after emotional abuse

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maeflye

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trying to find a therapist after emotional abuse
« on: January 29, 2015, 01:41:38 PM »
i'm looking for a "good enough" therapist and wondering if anyone has any advice about what to look for.

my main concern is finding someone who is familiar with cptsd and narcissistic abuse (i'm coming to understand my childhood and adult trauma as resulting from the textbook narcissistic behavior of my mother and exhusband).  i love in the southeaster US, so i'm looking mostly online -- because i have doubts about finding a professional in my area who's sufficiently educated about the affects of long term emotional abuse and the subtleties of the forms that abuse can take. the domestic violence support organization in my area defines dv as "if your spouse has injured you or threatened bodily harm, that is domestic abuse."  i need to find a professional who i don't have to educate. 

one of my biggest anxieties is not being believed, or being told i'm "making things up" or "reading too much into things."  this was a common crazy-making tactic for my mother when i described my experiences and it can trigger me into such levels of self-doubt and panic that i'm trying to be -really- careful to control for this trigger!

i recently did an email-session with a therapist that i found online for a sliding scale.  i wrote to her my concerns and some of my story and she was very compassionate and sweet -- but one thing she said gave me a little hesitation and i'm not sure if this is warranted or not.  in my letter to her i alluded to the fact that i now view my mother's behavior as narcissistic abuse and i referred to my symptoms as coming from cptsd from that abuse.  ... in her letter back, the therapist was very encouraging and thoughtful, but this line gave me pause, "I would however, be extremely cautious about labeling your experiencing with PTSD or Narcissistic Abuse. Right now, I would like you to only focus on composing yourself, rather than frantically searching for a label so that you can organize everything and it will all fit again."

of course, this woman is just getting to know me.  and i know that professionals will discourage self-diagnosis in general ... but because of my sensitivity to feeling dismissed and because of her use of PTSD interchangeably with my use of CPTSD, i wonder if i should keep looking or if i should keep working with her.  at the very least, i know that i should bring my concerns up with her ...

any thoughts / resources / advice is welcome and appreciated!  TIA!

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wingnut

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Re: trying to find a therapist after emotional abuse
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2015, 03:20:18 PM »
My .02 - if you are in doubt, don't. I would advise interviewing or trying three therapists unless you have an instant click. There are 1000s of them out there. Don't feel committed if you are not sure it's a match.

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Kizzie

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Re: trying to find a therapist after emotional abuse
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2015, 08:44:20 PM »
Hi and welcome to OOTS Maeflye    :wave: 

I'm in a similar situation to you as I am seeing a T who has worked with PTSD but not CPTSD and I'm not certain if he gets that there are fairly big differences. In turn I find myself wondering what that means in terms of my recovery.  I like him and we've done some good work, I just a little uncertain if this will get me where I want to go. I am exploring other approaches such as telephone therapy (I don't live near a big city so available T's are limited), something I had not really considered before but Mary Contrary has good things to say about it and if gets me where I want to go I'd give it a whirl.

Not to put you off the T you found, but I did want to mention that I find the labels (which are in fact diagnoses which guide treatment) are exactly the thing that finally helped me to understand what I went through as a child (I grew up with an NPD M and B and alcoholic F), and what happened to me as a result (CPTSD).  It allows me to talk to others who went through something similar and that has been absolutely invaluable. 

I see that you found the link to the ISTSS and I hope that helps in your search. I see that they don't list CPTSD (or Complex Trauma or DESNOs) separately under "Special Interests" ( ???) although there are a few categories that relate to CPTSD (e.g., "Attachment Disorders, Dissociation and Physical/Emotional Abuse). And they do have a Special Interest Group for CPTSD so we are at least on the radar nowadays  :thumbup:

Good luck in your search!

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maeflye

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Re: trying to find a therapist after emotional abuse
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2015, 12:54:16 AM »
Not to put you off the T you found, but I did want to mention that I find the labels (which are in fact diagnoses which guide treatment) are exactly the thing that finally helped me to understand what I went through as a child (I grew up with an NPD M and B and alcoholic F), and what happened to me as a result (CPTSD).  It allows me to talk to others who went through something similar and that has been absolutely invaluable. 

this really articulates my concern well.  i've been on a 15 year journey into trying to heal and figure out what the * is wrong with me ... and i'm to a point that i finally GET IT and that's really empowering to me right now.  mostly, i'm ready to stop looking at myself as the "problem."  ... i'm afraid that by "focusing on the symptoms," my T will be missing the really crucial stage i'm at where i need to experience and express and accept my anger at my inner critic and my abusers.  this isn't something -neutral- .. i don't just happen to have some symptoms.  there's a REASON.  and my life isn't going to change until i accept that reason and learn how to stop attracting NPD's into my life!

thank you for your thoughtful feedback.  like i said, it gives me a good articulation of exactly what my concerns are and also gives me a needed confidence boost. ... it's -so- hard to maintain my own opinions and point of view, especially with "authority" figures.  but i know that blindly fawning to my T will just be a waste of money and counterproductive.

let me know how it goes for you in your search.  and i'll pass on any great resources i might find, too!   ;D

Re: trying to find a therapist after emotional abuse
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2015, 04:09:09 PM »
I feel the same. If you've got diabetes, for example, it's no use simply looking at isolated symptoms and trying to treat each separately. "Thirsty? Drink more. Tired? Sleep more." You need the label to understand what precisely has happened, and you need it to know how to fix things.

Moreover, each of us already has labels. Most of those were given to us by other people, back when we got our CPTSD. Things like "overly sensitive", "would be fine if only she chose to be", "should just buck up and pull herself up by her own bootsraps". So saying "I've got CPTSD" - it's not like that's us STARTING to use labels. That's us finding a good and reasonable label that fits.

Sorry, this is just me trying to understand why your therapist's reaction irritated me. I couldn't put my finger on it for quite some time. But I think it's that. I'm glad you're able to tell her if something she said makes you feel uneasy.

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Kizzie

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Re: trying to find a therapist after emotional abuse
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2015, 08:01:34 PM »
Great points Maeflye and Cat  :applause: 

I do find that finally being able to say definitively "I suffer from CPTSD" is oddly empowering too Maeflye. It's saying to myself "Ah OK, I have an injury" rather than what I used to say, "I'm just a weak, depressed person who can't get past her past."  So these days it's "Yes thanks, I'll just keep this label and you can have the rest back!"   :bigwink:   

Labelling my FOO was also a HUGE step forward - once I found out about personality disorders, everything kind of fell into place (and like you it took many years, decades really).  It gave me the language to find my way to OOTF and relevant books and articles, and to talk to a T about what had been inexplicable and crazy making for most of my life. Now that I know I no longer live in the bizzarro land I used to live in and I have good, sound strategies for dealing with them. 

Definitely let us know how your search goes and I will mine.

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Cocobird

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Re: trying to find a therapist after emotional abuse
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2015, 01:08:06 AM »
I thought I was depressed, so I went to a therapist. She was extremely judgmental so I stopped seeing her. I found another therapist who is very good. She was the one who put it together for me that I have CPTSD. It made so much sense! I've been seeing her for quite a well, and I am making progress slowly. If your first therapist isn't good, keep looking. There are good ones out there.

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Bluevermonter

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Re: trying to find a therapist after emotional abuse
« Reply #7 on: March 22, 2015, 03:04:33 AM »
In searching for understanding in re my ex's CPTSD, I need to share my experiences with therapists. 

- In a poll of the 5 therapists I know, not one knows anything about C-PTSD.

- I am a smart person, so I understand the perils of amateur diagnosis.  On the other hand, I can read . . . and come to some rational analysis about my ex's mental health.  As well as my own issues.

- as for labels, if you can't define what is wrong, how can you fix it?  The two T's involved in our joint and individual counseling seemed in retrospect completely ineffective because they could not see the  big picture of c-PTSD.   they got bogged down in the details of my being angry because my ex picked fights with me and did not address her need to control etc.

- I can only wonder at how things would be different for us if my ex had listened to me in re her mental health, or if the T's actually had the professional knowledge I paid them for.

MOST IMPORTANT:  my ex can't get the help she needs if no mental health professional has ever heard of cptsd.
. A year out from her walking out, this is what worries me the most.

- psychology is a science, not snake oil, but its' practitioners seem to get away with not keeping current.  I wouldn't go to a doctor or dentist who was not keeping up with latest developments in their fields.  But 20 years later after cptsd was first described?  Boggles my mind.


My practical advise is to ask any therapist straight out if they have heard about C-PTSD and the people involved in that field of study.  If not, run away . . . I think any treatment needs to be a thoughtful plan based on current knowledge, not, as my T said,  "well, you can put 'complex' in front of any disorder, but it doesn't mean anything."   OMG . . . Not going back to him.

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Artemis

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Re: trying to find a therapist after emotional abuse
« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2015, 07:38:15 AM »
I would not see someone who proffers advice before you even know him or her, especially when you may be finally understanding the guidelines of your condition. I have been overwhelmed with relief since I discovered the details of dissociative disorder…and C-PTSD. Any therapist who makes me feel uncomfortable is just a no. You'll know. Some "nos" are a, "Huh…interesting, let's talk about it," and some "nos" are a "* no, I feel rubbed the wrong way." You need to mesh.

Here I am, a stranger, proffering advice... :doh:

But this is 20 years into the process... :hug: