My personal story of finding the right therapist is a profound one.
For those of you who suffer from PTSD, due to child molestation and rape, mine starts within the same manner. I endured 7 years of being sexually abused by a male physician (from age 3-10). My first, official memory is of what he was doing to me in his office. At age 13, I started having Holocaust nightmares.
I wasn’t born Jewish. And, for the next 30 years–I witnessed in my nightmares the Third Reich raping children, or being raped by them. Every therapist that I went to never helped me.
I am an artist. I grew up and became a Professor of Graphic Design.
All of my faculty art exhibitions are on my Holocaust Nightmares. I even mastered the skills of film, digital media–and created a commerical for Holocaust Education a few years ago. There is a difference with those who survived the Holocaust vs. those who grew up and educated themselves on the topic. I feel very connected to survivors–because of my nightmares.
I’m not given a choice to turn away and stop looking. By the time I reached my 5th year of teaching as a Professor–I had survived 25 years of nightmares about the Shoah. I would look up during a lecture–and see my students flicker back and forth in their seats from student to concentration camp victim. Only to return home for the evening, and be plunged back into sleep having 4-5 different nightmares in one night. There was no escape. During this time, I had a blog prior to the one I now have on WordPress. Someone from the Jewish community responded, and asked me if I had ever considered going into therapy with a Rabbi who had all of his degrees in Psychotherapy. I was willing to give it a try.
If you are struggling to find the right therapist for you–have you ever considered seeking out someone who has the same, spiritual beliefs as you do? If you are Catholic– a Catholic Therapist–for example. For me–I feel this was the fundamental key that had been missing from all of my other therapy sessions.
As I write this–I am currently in the Holy Land. I taught for 10 years as a Professor, and am currently on a 1 year sabbatical. I am picking up a Master’s in Holocaust Education at the University of Haifa–the only university in Israel that offers graduate degrees at this time in history for Holocaust Ed. I spent close to 2 years in therapy with the Rabbi prior to coming to Israel…Who is now also My Rabbi. He has all of his degrees in Psychotherapy.
What I didn’t tell you–is that he lives in Tsfat, Israel–1 out of the 4 holiest cities in the Holy Land. Our therapy sessions were not conventional ones. Prior to my coming to Israel–I was in the United States. My sessions consisted of talking to him via correspondence, and on Skype. A month after I arrived in Israel, I hopped on a bus and traveled all the way up in to the mountains to Tsfat. My Rabbi had invited me to come spend the Shabbat weekend with him and his family. Upon arriving at the Tsfat Central Bus Station–he came to pick me up. It was the very first time–that we were to physically meet. When he got out of his car, he came walking toward me and said: “G-d brought you here.”
My Rabbi? He was able to get the Holocaust Nightmares to stop within 5 months of therapy. He introduced me to reading the Shema prayer each night before bed. Not only do we have in-depth conversations about the trauma and sexual abuse that has happened in my life, he has helped me heal through his spiritual guidance.
My fiancee passed away when I was 25. He died 3 months prior to our wedding. He was Vietnam war vet. And, while he survived the war–he did not survive the PTSD of it. His most favorite movie was “THE CROW” with Brandon Lee in it. True Love never ends. It is a graduation that guides our soul. Perhaps, in theory–if your past therapists have failed you–what you are seeking can’t be found within the branches…it exists only inside the roots.