NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Overcoming Your Fear of Attending Psychotherapy to Recover From Trauma - Part 3: The Consultation

In prior blog articles, I discussed the common fears that many people have when they consider attending psychotherapy to recover from emotional trauma as well as how to find a licensed psychotherapist who has an expertise in trauma (see links below to these article).  In this blog article, I would like to focus on how to handle a psychotherapy consultation with a trauma specialist.

Overcoming Your Fear of Attending Psychotherapy to Recover From Trauma
As I've mentioned in prior articles, I consider the first session with a new client to be a consultation, whether they're coming for trauma therapy or not.  The consultation is an opportunity for both the client and the therapist to find out if they would be a good match.

Providing the Therapist With An Overview of the Problem During a Psychotherapy Consultation
When clients call me for a consultation, I usually let them know that I will be asking them during our first session for an overview of their problem and what they would like to get out of therapy.

The reason why I only ask for an overview is because I want enough information to have an idea of what the presenting problem is for a particular client, but I don't want the client to feel overwhelmed at the end of the session because they feel they have divulged too much to a stranger.

Providing the Therapist With An Overview of the Problem During the Therapy Consultation

I assure them that I can (and I have) helped clients with all different types of trauma, and so I can hear anything.  But, very often, when people start talking about their trauma, especially if they delve into it very deeply too early on, they often get emotionally triggered.  If this happens, it can be a frightening experience for the client, and it might actually make them too afraid to pursue therapy.

So, no actual trauma work is done during a consultation.  It's a meeting where you and the therapist meet for the first time and see if you're comfortable with each other.  It's understood that most clients have some level of discomfort and a certain amount of ambivalence about starting therapy.  But beyond that, you want to get a sense of whether or not you feel a rapport with the therapist.

I want people who come to see me for therapy to feel safe emotionally.  It's of the utmost importance to me that people leave my office feeling emotionally intact and not overwhelmed and emotionally vulnerable.  So, an overview is usually a safe place to start.

Ask the Therapist Questions
To get the most out of your consultation with a psychotherapist, I recommend that you think about what's important to you with regard to working with a therapist before your first appointment.  I suggest that you write down your questions to help you use the time you have in your first session well.

What Kinds of Questions Are Helpful to Ask to a Trauma Therapist?
Of course, everyone is different in terms of what they want to know, but generally, it's a good idea to ask:
  • Are you a licensed psychotherapist (never do trauma work with anyone who isn't licensed)?
  • How long have you been a practicing therapist?
  • What is your expertise in trauma?
  • What type of advanced training do you have with regard to trauma treatment?
  • How much experience do you have working with clients who have the same type of problem

What Kinds of General Questions Are Helpful to Ask a Therapist?
  • Which graduate school did you attend?
  • How long have you been practicing?
  • What are your specialties?
  • What is your fee?
  • What is your cancellation policy?
I'm sure you might have other questions that you're interested in, but these are the most common basic questions for a psychotherapy consultation.

What If You're Not Sure After One Consultation?
If you're not sure whether or not you want to see a particular therapist after one consultation, you can ask if you can have a second consultation.  You might also want to meet a few therapists, although many people find it diffiult to go through this process a few times with different therapists, so this is up to the individual.

It's best to go with your gut feeling in these matters.  You don't need to worry about hurting the therapist's feelings if you decide you want to choose a different therapist.  Most experienced therapists know that not all therapists are for all clients, so they won't take it personally.  You're the one who has to feel comfortable.

Getting Help
Many people who have emotional trauma procrastinate in getting help.  In the meantime, their emotional trauma often has a detrimental impact on their lives.

Getting Help

Rather than continuing to suffer with anxiety and shame, get help from an experienced psychotherapist who has an expertise with trauma so you can overcome your trauma and live a more fulfilling life.

I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

One of my specialties is working with emotional trauma.

To find out more about me, visit my website:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist

To set up a consultation, call me at (212 726-1006 or send me an email:

Overcoming Your Fear of Attending Psychotherapy to Recover From Trauma - Part 1: Common Fears

Overcoming Your Fear of Attending Psychotherapy to Recover From Trauma - Part 2: Finding a Trauma Therapist

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