I believe deeply in the importance of therapy for children who have experienced trauma. My children have had some of the most amazing counselors over the years who have gone out of their way to support not only my children but my entire family.
Years into my journey as a foster and adoptive parent, one of my children’s therapists asked me if I was seeing anyone. I was shocked at first. “Oh, I’ve never experienced anything like what my children have!” My child’s counselor responded with patience, “You are experiencing their trauma alongside of them each day, it’s a good idea to find someone to talk to.”
I realized I had a lot to think about. It was time to change my own perspective about therapy.
I chose a counselor at the same office but it was not a good fit. I got discouraged and quit. A few years later, I faced a crisis of my own and realized my stubbornness about caring for myself was hurting me and everyone in my family. I tried again to find someone to talk to. I asked around and got a few recommendations.
Then I made phone calls first to interview the therapists in my area. I asked questions about their familiarity with adoption, foster care and childhood trauma. I finally found someone who felt like a match over the phone. I was still nervous when we met in person. Two years later, I still see the same counselor. I look forward to meeting with her every other week and I know that I have a safe place to talk about anything. I now encourage every foster and adoptive parent I know to seek counseling.
If you are considering finding a therapist for yourself, here are a few things you should do.
- Pat yourself on the back. This is a really important step. Taking care of yourself is never selfish.
- Gather references. Ask around, chances are there are people in your community who have first hand experience with the counselors in your area. They will be able to give you the inside scoop on what it’s like to work with them.
- Check your insurance. Your health insurance may cover mental health services.
- Interview. This is the most important step. Ask yourself what is important to you. What qualities do you want in a counselor? Should she or he be a person of faith? Do you need a counselor that is trauma informed? Is it important to you that they have similar life experiences? Write down a list of the things you need to ask and take the list with you to your first appointment or phone call.
- Evaluate. Once you have completed your first appointment, evaluate your experience and your feelings. Did the therapist feel warm and caring? Did you feel heard and accepted? Do you have more questions you need to ask?
- Remember. You are hiring this person. If it’s not a good fit, keep looking.
Self care is never selfish. Taking care of your mind and your heart is as important as caring for your body. When you are in a healthy place emotionally, you will be better able to care for your family.
[reminder]Have you sought out therapy for yourself? How hard was this to do? What did you discover about yourself? [/reminder]