Getting Help Now

Where do I start?

How do I know if I need professional help dealing with trauma?

  • If you or a loved one has been traumatized, it is often helpful to talk to and spend time with your regular support systems (e.g., friends, family). It is also essential to take care of basic needs such as eating well and getting enough rest.
  • With time, support, and healthy coping, many people find that their initial reactions to trauma resolve gradually.
  • However, if you or a loved one are having disturbing symptoms that are persisting, worsening, or making it difficult to function, it may be helpful to find professional help.
  • Some people attempt to cope with trauma in ways that can do more harm than good, such as drinking too much alcohol or withdrawing from supportive people. If you are using unhealthy coping methods, it may be helpful to seek professional help.

How do I find professional help for dealing with trauma?

  • It is important to find a mental health clinician who has been trained in treating traumatized individuals.
  • A local mental health association (e.g., state psychological, social work, counseling, or psychiatry association), counseling centers at local universities, a family doctor, clergy, or health insurance carrier may be able to assist in the search for help.
  • This website cannot provide professional recommendations or make specific referrals to treatment providers. However, professional organizations dedicated to the treatment of traumatized people have directories of their members who request to be listed on their websites. These directories can be helpful to individuals searching for clinicians trained in treating trauma.
    • clinician directory is supported by the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS). This clinician directory lets you consider many factors in searching for a clinician, including their discipline or specialty, special interests, populations served and languages spoken.
    • For individuals who have experienced trauma and have high levels of dissociation, the International Society for the Study and Treatment of Dissociative Disorders (ISSTD)’s informative website may be useful. The ISSTD also has a clinician directory on their website to help people find professionals who have expressed interest in treating individuals with dissociative disorders.

How does cultural competence impact the treatment of survivors of trauma?

Trauma occurs within the psychosocial framework of external cultural realities, and the internal, intrapsychic representations of those realities. Trauma does not happen to a generic human being. It occurs in the context of who a person is and the various and multiple strands of identity. A survivor experiences the distress of the trauma, and attempts to cope with that distress, in the psychosocial realities of a particular time, place, and location in the social and political world. Additionally, a therapist working with the trauma survivor is also the product of this process of identity development in the context of cultural and social realities, and represents meanings to trauma survivors that affect the development of a therapeutic alliance and the conduct of psychotherapy itself.

Read more about Cultural Competence in Treating Survivors of Trauma by Laura Brown, Ph.D., ABPP.

Help websites and hotlines:

PTSD Online Coach: Provides self-help tools to build coping skills and helps manage troubling symptoms.

National Sexual Assault Online Hotline: Live help for sexual assault victims and their friends and families. The hotline is free, confidential, and secure.

Safe Helpline for Military: Sexual assault support for the Department of Defense community.

MaleSurvivor: MaleSurvivor provides critical resources to male survivors of sexual trauma.

Love Is Respect: Help website for teen dating abuse, including sexual abuse.

Mental Health Mobile Phone Application Review Database: Includes information on more than 40 self-help apps for iOS and Android systems.

Speaking of Suicide: Help website that provides resources for individuals experiencing suicidal thoughts (online and hotline services included).