The best trauma counselors understand that a trauma survivor’s feelings of distress can be affected by social, political, and economic conditions under which they live. That’s why they take a look at the trauma survivor’s whole experience, not just the specific traumatic event that they’ve most recently experienced. But beyond that there are certain qualities that all good trauma counselors have. Let’s take a look at eight of them:
- They tailor their counseling to fit the trauma survivor’s needs. There are many ways to approach therapy, but there’s no one-size fits all. Depending on your personality, temperament, and preferences, some therapy approaches may not be best for you. Good trauma counselors will take your personal needs into consideration when developing your therapy plan.
- They view the trauma survivor as the primary engine in their own recovery. The best trauma counselors know that you are the most intimately familiar with your challenges, and therefore you should be the primary partner in your healing. That’s why trauma counselors will always listen to your suggestions and opinions about how you can best heal from trauma.
- They keep things professional. The best trauma counselors are warm and caring, but they will not attempt to take their relationship with you to the realms of friendship or romance. By keeping firm boundaries in place—no socializing outside of therapy sessions—trauma counselors never take advantage of the power they have.
- They recognize their own humanity. The most professional trauma counselors understand that they are flawed and that they can be wrong. That’s why your trauma counselor should never get angry just because you disagree with them or have pointed out an error.
- They focus on you. A trauma counselor should never spend your therapy session talking about their own problems. The best counselors will stay focused on the trauma survivor’s experiences and will rarely talk about themselves, especially not their own problems.
- They never dismiss your concerns. The best trauma counselors understand that different people react to trauma in a variety of ways. That’s why they will never attempt to make you feel that you’re overacting to a situation. They will respect your experiences and your responses to those experiences.
- They know their own biases. Everyone has biases and the best trauma counselors recognize those biases in themselves. If a trauma counselor is unable to provide you with the best service because their biases, they will refer you to another provider.
- They accept their limitations. No one is prepared or skilled enough to deal with every trauma survivor. That’s why trauma counselors recognize their limitations and will refer you to someone more appropriate when necessary. For example, a trauma counselor who speaks only English may refer to a counselor who speaks Spanish if that’s your primary language. Or, if you’re a trauma survivor trying to recover from a rape, they counselor may refer you to a rape counselor if their own training hasn’t properly prepared them to meet your needs.
Before you commit to any trauma counselor, make sure they meet at least the basic “must-haves” listed above.