Help with choosing a therapist- gender and triggers

Teawitheggs

Not Active
After reading Pete Walker’s cPTSD book, twice, and almost 4 decades of trying to sort things out on my own, I want to find a trauma therapist. I’ve seen two counsellors briefly in the last 3 yrs who both left their practices after I’d had a few sessions with them. They were both kind, and I liked them as people, but neither seemed equipped to work with me (both gasped and were expressively horrified by just the most surface-y details of incidents I’ve experienced).

They were both female, and I am very uncomfortable with females in general (I’m female also), and I don’t know if this is something I should learn to tolerate or if it would be more helpful at least in the beginning of working with a therapist, to choose a male therapist so that I am more comfortable sharing and taking conversational/therapeutic direction from them. I feel totally lost and stressed by typical female-style communication.

I don’t hate women at all, and I am feminine in expression. I am just totally bewildered by women in general, no doubt because my mother was extremely abandoning, negligent and (less extremely) cruel. I had my very first conversation with my mother two yrs ago and it was fine, but I don’t know how to talk to women, and from my own experience, there is a way to talk to/communicate with women that is very different than to men.

Also, to be clear, it is not a sexual thing. I’ve been badly abused by men and have general trust problems with everyone.

I saw a (male) psychiatrist who told me that I should not push myself or listen to advice to “get out of my comfort zone.” He said that what I need more than anything is to seek comfort, since no part of me feels safe or experiences comfort. He said to pay attention to my body and if it’s telling me to run, freeze, or fawn (I have no fight response so far), then to leave that situation/person immediately and without explaining or defending, to just end it by any safe means possible.

I am just beginning. I started using a weighted blanket and it’s so relieving and comforting (after the initial week of panicking and having to slowly bring it up from just my feet and now I pull it up all the way and it’s comforting). I’m new to seeking and finding comfort in anything. Is it best to find a comfortable therapist? Or one who triggers me?
 

RussellSue

MyPTSD Pro
I would say that the time to choose a therapist who triggers you is never. You need to feel safe with a therapist.

I am sorry that you have had so much trouble finding a therapist. I have also run into problems with therapists who struggled with the details of my history and I know it is not extremely helpful to discover that this life you are in is too hard for others to even hear about - where's the hope for recovery there?

I have a male therapist and have tended to prefer that even though I am female - if nothing else, they seem less squeamish. Since I have issues with both sexes, I did not discriminate but took the first EMDR therapist who would take my insurance and had an opening. 15 years into therapy, I have had probably equal years with women as with men.

I hope you are able to find the right trauma therapist very soon.
 

RussellSue

MyPTSD Pro
RusselSue, this is very affirming; thank you :) I’ll start a new search on Monday

I added that male therapists seem less squeamish possibly after you read my post. Then I thought about it more and realized that women therapists have pretty much always seemed to have a very hard time digesting my story. Men have been more matter of fact about things. That has been my experience, for what it is worth.
 

Teawitheggs

Not Active
I added that male therapists seem less squeamish possibly after you read my post. Then I thought about it more and realized that women therapists have pretty much always seemed to have a very hard time digesting my story. Men have been more matter of fact about things. That has been my experience, for what it is worth.
That’s been my general life experience also- not sure why....
 

Sideways

Sponsor
I would say that the time to choose a therapist who triggers you is never.
Totally agree with this statement. Even if working with a female T is a stressor, rather than a trigger.

If you were to prioritise your treatment goals, my guess is that "being able to work with a female therapist" is waaaaay down the list. By choosing a female T, it will be the first thing you need to deal with, and may take up (a lot of) time when you could be working on more pressing issues:)
 

Friday

Moderator
I nearly always work with a male therapist, have mostly male friends, and usually work in male dominated fields. Shrug. Nothing wrong with that. At least, not in this country, where women are “allowed” to spend time with men both personally & professionally, casually & intimately. So I may as well take advantage of not being excluded from half the population’s strengths & talents... and follow my own heart. I like men, generally speaking, although individuals certainly vary. My judgment is also infinitely better. Whether that’s a byproduct of practice or natural inclination I have no idea, nor -I think- does it really matter. Vive la différence.
 

RussellSue

MyPTSD Pro
I started using a weighted blanket and it’s so relieving and comforting

Also, since the weighted blanket is helping, if you don't already have one, I have found my weighted lap pad to be very useful when I am just sitting down and not ready for bed. I got one on Amazon. When I remember to use it, it really does help. I have even used it while doing video conferences and on public transportation and it significantly reduced my anxiety. It weighs either 5 or 7 pounds and is just like a big, square pillow, so it's not hard to manage like a weighted blanket can be.
 

Teawitheggs

Not Active
I
Also, since the weighted blanket is helping, if you don't already have one, I have found my weighted lap pad to be very useful when I am just sitting down and not ready for bed. I got one on Amazon. When I remember to use it, it really does help. I have even used it while doing video conferences and on public transportation and it significantly reduced my anxiety. It weighs either 5 or 7 pounds and is just like a big, square pillow, so it's not hard to manage like a weighted blanket can be.
I just ordered one from amazon :) Thank you for this suggestion! I thought they were only bed-sized and mine is too heavy to lug up and down the stairs.
 

Still Standing

MyPTSD Pro
I prefer to talk to men. I have “mom” issues and it takes more time to trust a gal, though I am one myself. Because of this I chose a male psychologist. However circumstances forced a change in treatment and I found myself in the care of a male psychiatrist and a lady therapist. It has ended up that the doc is not going to be someone I trust and the gal has been (surprisingly, so far) easy to talk with...a complete reversal of my norm. So, I would say be open to whoever it is that is easiest for you to talk to. Gender may not be as important as you think. And you can have a few sessions with someone and if they don’t work for you move on to another.

And a weighted blanket is wonderful! I use one and really seems to help with sleeping.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
Totally agree with what people say: choose a therapist that works best for you.

I had a shopping list of what I wanted from a therapist and who my therapist should be. I knew who I didn't want my therapist to be. And went on my search to find the closest person who ticked all the boxes.

You need to feel totally comfortable with your T. It's really positive you know what makes you comfortable and what doesn't. And go with that. Whoever you choose it's ok, because it's about what is right for you.
 
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