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Healing on a Budget: How I found my Trauma Informed Therapist.


Let's have a candid discussion about therapy and finding the right therapist. I'm no expert in locating all the trauma-trained therapists, and honestly, I don't think finding someone who specializes in those is an easy task. That's precisely why, at Healing & C-PTSD, we're working to build a trauma-informed directory to facilitate access to those who can truly make a difference. If you have insights or can contribute to this cause, your help is invaluable – click here to join us on this mission.

It's the top question I receive in emails and DMs lately. Community members seek a qualified C-PTSD specialist I can confidently recommend, and it feels like a massive responsibility that I'm not ready for. As THE community for complex trauma survivors, I get it – you want reliable guidance without going through therapists who may not help or even harm you. Unfortunately, I can't confidently vouch for someone at the moment. But I want you to know, I hear you, I see you, and I understand the struggle. We're working tirelessly to launch The Trauma Directory, and I'm thrilled about the progress we're making. Meanwhile, I'll share how I found my trauma-informed therapist without health insurance, paying just $60 per visit.

In My Early Years: Using Health Insurance Directory

When I had health insurance, I used their directory to find a therapist. If you have insurance, utilize it! Check their network for therapists accepting new clients, create a list of potential professionals, and use the questions at the end of this blog to ensure they're the right fit for you.

Other Options: Discovering Open Path Collective

If you don't have Health Insurance, there are other options.

Finding a trauma informed therapist is one of the hard struggles that you will find on your healing journey. Whether you have insurance or not, therapy is expensive, which can lead you to convince yourself that it's not worth it, or that it's something that you will never be able to experience. I get it, I've been there. That's part of the reason I quit therapy my first time around.


Even with insurance, I was spending $50 a week every time I was seeing my therapist. As a poor college student who was on her own, that money was better spent on booze in my eyes. I also grew up in a time when it was drilled into us to get a full-time job so that we could have benefits, everything was about benefits so that you would have health insurance. I remember keeping jobs I hated, just so that I could have my health insurance, which at the time I wasn't even using.

Many many years later, After I visited my sister and told her about my sexual abuse, she highly suggested that I start going to see a therapist again, and knowing I didn't have any health insurance at that point, she put me on to something called Open Path Collective, and I'd say it saved my life.

Here's how Open Path Collective Works


It feels weird giving a random therapy directory that much credit, but honestly without it, I wouldn't have been able to afford to get the help that I deserved.


Open Path Collective is a directory that helps those with financial struggles connect with professionals who charge a lower fee. It's a way that connects professionals who want to give back to those who need financial assistance. For anyone who doesn't have health insurance, this is a great option to look into.

How Open Path Works

You can freely browse their directory of professionals, filtering by specialty, location, modality, race or ethnicity, etc. It's excellent for finding a "trauma" informed therapist. I reached out to Open Path about adding complex trauma or C-PTSD to their listings, but they explained that selecting "trauma" as a specialty offers a wider range of therapists to cater to various trauma experiences. They recommended reaching out to therapists directly to inquire about their specific trauma specialties.

Tips for Affording Therapy Through Open Path

When a therapist claims to be trauma-informed, it's essential to ask questions to ensure they genuinely meet your needs. After finding a therapist you want to work with, becoming a member of Open Path is necessary to receive the discounted price they offer. The one-time fee is $65 (previously $55), granting you lifelong membership. As an Open Path member, you can access numerous professionals at a discounted rate. Initially, the fees ranged from $30 to $60 per session, but now it's between $40 and $70. Although higher than when I signed up, it's still significantly lower than the usual $150 charged without insurance – making it an excellent option for those without insurance or facing financial strain.

While the $60 range was most common among the therapists I researched, it's still a substantial amount, especially when transitioning careers or starting a business. To make an informed decision, I evaluated my finances and the timeframe I could dedicate to my healing journey. Breaking it down, it amounted to $240 per month for weekly sessions, compared to the standard $600 per month.

Before I moved forward, I got real about my money and what I was going to invest. I was at a breaking point and knew I needed to find someone to be part of my healing team.


Now I also want to say that while this is a discount compared to the ridiculously high costs of therapy sessions, it still is a privilege, that is not available to everyone. I believe mental health help is a basic human right, not a privilege, but I won't go down that rabbit hole today.

The Importance of Finding the Right Therapist

I chose to move forward with the therapist I found on Open Path, and we had a fruitful four-year journey together. She proved to be the right fit for me at that time and was the one who diagnosed my C-PTSD. While I'm no longer working with her, because life and healing journeys are dynamic, and our needs change. Those four years left a lasting impact, paving the way for my next chapter and the growth I needed.

Not only did I find the therapist I did EMDR with through Open Path as well, but if the time comes that I am searching for someone else to add to my healing team, I'll lean back on Open Path because it has been reliable, and I already paid my lifetime fee.


WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TRAUMA AWARE, INFORMED, OR TRAINED?

With trauma being a "trend" word now, I think it's important for you to know the difference between Trauma Aware, Trauma Informed, and Trauma Trained. So you can know the difference and make the best decision for you and your healing journey.

  • Trauma Aware: Being trauma aware means having a basic understanding of trauma and its potential impact on individuals and communities. It involves recognizing that trauma is prevalent and that many people may have experienced traumatic events. Being trauma aware is about acknowledging the existence and potential effects of trauma but may not necessarily involve specific training or detailed knowledge on trauma-related topics.

  • Trauma Informed: Trauma-informed approaches take trauma awareness a step further. They encompass a framework or philosophy that guides organizations, institutions, or individuals to respond to trauma in a sensitive and supportive manner. Being trauma informed means recognizing the widespread impact of trauma, understanding the signs and symptoms of trauma, and adapting policies, practices, and interactions to avoid re-traumatization and promote healing. It involves creating safe and empowering environments that prioritize trust, collaboration, and choice for individuals who have experienced trauma.

  • Trauma Trained: Being trauma trained refers to having undergone specialized education or training in trauma-related topics. Trauma training involves acquiring in-depth knowledge and skills about trauma, its impact on individuals and communities, and evidence-based interventions to support trauma survivors effectively. Trauma-trained professionals have received specific instruction on trauma theory, trauma responses, trauma-informed care, and relevant treatment modalities. They are equipped with tools and strategies to address the unique needs of individuals impacted by trauma.


WHAT DO YOU WANT IN A THERAPIST?

I encourage you to get clear about what you are looking for in a therapist. Creating a wish list of the ideal therapist you are looking for may be helpful.

For example, at the beginning of my own journey, my only preference was to work with a female therapist. However, after my first therapist, I sought a female therapist closer to my age to enhance our relatability. Later, I discovered my preference for a female person of color, I struggled to connect with white therapists and found greater comfort in working with women of color. I share this because it might take time and experience with therapists to understand your preferences, and that's absolutely okay.


You have every right to be picky, and your choices don't need to make sense to anyone but yourself! You might prefer a therapist of any gender, a person of color, different age groups, virtual or in-person visits, and someone trauma aware, informed, or trained. There's no right or wrong in preferences; they only need to resonate with you and make you feel comfortable.

WHAT QUESTIONS SHOULD I ASK A THERAPIST?


I totally get it, it may feel uncomfortable to ask questions, but you have every right to ask. The relationship with a therapist is to provide a safe space, and gauging how you feel by asking questions and their responses will give you a great foundation for what it may look like working with this therapist.

These first 3 questions will help you right away determine if they know about complex trauma or not:

  1. What is your understanding of the difference between trauma and complex trauma, or PTSD and CPTSD?

  2. Do you believe there is a timespan involved in healing or recovering from complex trauma?

  3. Can you explain your comprehension of complex trauma and its potential effects on individuals?

Other questions you may want to ask that can be helpful in determining if they are a good fit for you: :

  • What specific training have you received for working with complex trauma?

  • How many clients with complex trauma have you treated in the past?

  • What is your knowledge and experience regarding dissociation?

  • If a client requires specialized treatment beyond your expertise, how do you handle the situation?

  • What contingency plan is in place if you, as the therapist, are on leave or sick?

  • Could you share your experience in working with survivors of complex trauma?

  • What approach do you use to treat complex trauma? Please describe your therapeutic style and modalities.

  • How do you create a safe and supportive environment for clients dealing with complex trauma?

  • Do you believe in and practice trauma-informed care? How does it guide your therapeutic approach?

  • How do you stay informed about the latest research and techniques related to trauma therapy?

  • When trauma-related symptoms like dissociation emerge during therapy, how do you address and manage them?

  • Are you familiar with evidence-based trauma therapies such as EMDR, Somatic Experiencing, or Internal Family Systems? Have you received training in any of these approaches?

  • How do you integrate a client's cultural background and identity into the therapy process?

  • Are you open to collaborating with other professionals, such as psychiatrists or specialists, if needed?

  • What is your stance on medication, and how does it fit into your overall approach to treating complex trauma?

  • Can you provide examples of successful outcomes you've achieved while working with complex trauma survivors?

Conclusion

Finding a trauma therapist without insurance is undoubtedly challenging, but it's possible with the right resources and determination. Open Path Collective is a fantastic option to explore, and it can make a significant difference in your healing journey. Please don't be discouraged by the lack of insurance – there are solutions out there for you. Trust your instincts and take the first step towards reclaiming your life.


If you have any thoughts or experiences to share, please drop a comment below. Let's support each other on this empowering road to healing and growth. Together, we can overcome anything!

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