Green Flags to Look For in a Trauma Therapist


Even if you believe you have overcome the trauma, your experience may still show interpersonal connection difficulties, low self-esteem, and self-worth, or destructive habits. When people begin to experience health problems like insomnia, anxiety, and depression, they often feel compelled to examine their past. Others discover that they must revisit childhood trauma when they have children that cause insecurities or buried trigger wounds.

As we work on uncovering and addressing childhood traumas, it is typical for some feelings or symptoms to worsen because you are finding and diving into complex themes. This can worsen sadness or anxiety, as well as cause insomnia, hostility, or resentment. People who have experienced childhood trauma often find it vital to have a professional accompany them along the process, significantly when feelings and symptoms worsen. 

What to Look for in a Trauma Therapist

After you’ve searched “trauma therapist near me,” the following five "green flags" can assist you in your search for the ideal therapist for you.

  • They require more than a fundamental comprehension of your trauma.

Someone who has experienced family-of-origin trauma might benefit from working with a therapist who knows the relationship dynamics you have experienced without the need for you to educate or explain. Therapists are not expected to know everything, but many focus on a specific population, experience, or "niche" area. Trauma is both universal and specific. Look for a therapist who has extensive experience with your history. 

  • Look for a therapist who is equipped with a variety of techniques. 

There is a lot of buzz right now in the mental health world concerning trauma modalities like EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), EFT (Emotion-Focused Therapy), and IFS (Internal Family Systems Therapy). Most new clients will be unfamiliar with these methods before commencing treatment; however, others will have done their study and may come to sessions with specific requests for what they believe will be most beneficial to their rehabilitation. 

However, while many people have found success with one or more of these trauma-informed modalities, there is no "one size fits all" treatment, and what works for one person may not work for another. Choosing a therapist based on one method, regardless of their specialized area, may limit your chances of healing. It might be empowering to research what you believe would work best, but it is also beneficial for therapists to have access to more than one technique of help.

  • Empathy and compassion should be apparent from the start

Many clients have told me that previous therapists were dismissive of them or appeared to shrug off their trauma as "the past," advising them to "move on and forgive." While each therapist has a unique technique, selecting one that has empathy for you and your background is critical. A professional who discourages people from speaking out against family members or forces clients to forgive and move on may not be the best fit for you when you begin treatment. Believe your gut instinct.

  • Practical limits are crucial.

Children who grew up in circumstances where their boundaries were broken, whether emotionally, physically, sexually, or spiritually, require a therapist they can trust to uphold their boundaries. A client who grew up having to be the emotional caregiver for a parent, for example, may be triggered by a therapist who exposes too much information early on. Good boundaries for a therapy relationship often include minimum self-disclosure, listening more than talking (unless you specifically requested education or a more excellent explanation), and sticking to appointment schedules. A therapist who is habitually untrustworthy may make a client feel insecure.

  • The ability to admit that they don't know everything

Therapists frequently feel compelled to know everything about a client's symptoms or condition. There will be many instances when you two can discuss a topic together in a session. Still, you are the authority on your own life experience, and sometimes, even a mental health professional needs to take a step back and learn more about your issues. A therapist who can say, "I don't know, let's look into it further," or "I'm not sure, this is new to me." Will you let me do some consultation to figure out how to serve you best?" is someone who understands when to seek additional knowledge or support and is comfortable and secure enough to confess it.