Resources: How do I get therapeutic help?

*This is the first in a series of posts on Resources for Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse*

Finding a good therapist and getting help can be the best decisions a survivor makes. But the process can also be maddening.


Referrals from Family and Friends

Before launching an online search using the links below, ask around. Getting therapy does not carry the stigma it used to, and you will be amazed at the wonderful recommendations you can get from family and friends. If your brother went to a great therapist, give that therapist a call and ask him/her for a recommendation. (You didn’t want to share your Legos with your brother when you were kids, and you certainly don’t want to share a therapist with him now). Therapists know their colleagues very well, and will be sure to point you to a great clinician who does good work.

Remember: The best therapist in the world may not be the best therapist for you. Before you can benefit from therapy, you need to like how your therapist works, work well with him/her, and—most importantly—feel comfortable.


Take Advantage of Low-Cost Options

Many workplaces offer benefits such as free, confidential, short-term counseling through third-party vendors (EAP, etc.). Talk to your HR department or supervisor to see if they offer the benefit and if you qualify. Your workplace pays for this benefit, so they want you to use it.

States like Hawaii offer low-cost (and sometimes free) counseling through various state-run and nonprofit social services programs. Research your state and county to see if there are services available. If you don’t have access to a computer at home, go to your local library. Research assistants there are experts in finding low-cost services for library patrons.

Finally, many churches help members find counseling or offer services themselves. NOTE: If you were abused in an institutional setting, like a church, it may not be a good idea to get counseling from the same or similar organization. Also, if the institution where you were abused offers you free counseling, be very careful and be sure that your privacy and legal rights are protected. Remember: anyone who offers you free counseling can instantly take that therapy away. So, be sure to protect yourself.


Therapist Search Tools

The American Psychological Association has a search site to help you find a therapist in your area that focuses on victims of child sexual abuse.

Psychology Today also has a therapist search that includes Marriage and Family Therapists and Licensed Clinical Social Workers.

The HelpPro Therapist Finder also provides information on therapists in your area. has a therapist search and what they call the PsychPedia A-Z, which is very helpful when it comes to making sense of all of the options and therapies available.


Kinds of Therapy

Many survivors have found great healing from therapists who use EMDR.

From the EMDR Institute:

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences.  Repeated studies show that by using EMDR people can experience the benefits of psychotherapy that once took years to make a difference.

Click here to learn more about EMDR or to find a therapist and discuss whether or not it can work for you, click here.

Some survivors have had great success by focusing on brain healthIntegrative psychiatric care at places such as the Amen Clinic address brain health, personal care, nutrition and brain science to help survivor address how abuse has physically and psychologically affected their brain function.

NLPNeuro-linguistic Programming—and Timeline Therapy have also been helpful for many survivors to release anger, anxiety and trauma. Click here to find an NLP practitioner or to learn more about NLP and Timeline Therapy.

This is just a thumbnail sketch of the options that are available to you. So, take your time, do some research, and find a therapist who can help you heal.

All links are just suggestions and do not imply endorsements. I have not received any compensation for including any of the links above (if only …). If you have tried a successful therapy, feel free to let me know and I can include it here.

Coming up—Part Two: Crime victims and legal rights

2 thoughts on “Resources: How do I get therapeutic help?

  1. Very informative information Joelle and John..

    And yes, I agree with this statement “NOTE: If you were abused in an institutional setting, like a church, it may not be a good idea to get counseling from the same or similar organization.”—
    I know of victims who used this type of counseling which eventually did more harm to the victim.

    Tks, Judy Jones, SNAP

  2. Great article, Joelle! I have found that therapists who have studied and practiced with a clinical understanding of Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder tend to more effectively help survivors who were assaulted as children. Judith Herman developed the model of CPTSD in her landmark book TRAUMA AND RECOVERY. An understanding of CPTSD helps the therapist more completely address the individual’s child developmental phases that might have been slowed, stopped or damaged as the result of serial sexual trauma. Christine Courtois’ book TREATING COMPLEX TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDERS: AN EVIDENCE-BASED GUIDE is excellent. If a counselor you are interviewing is not familiar with CPTSD treatment, look elsewhere. Psychiatrists and psychologists who have earned their degrees within the past five years have studied this as part of their basic curriculum. Better established therapists have completed multiple Continuing Education credits in CPTSD.

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