Connect Issues Winter 2022


By Ennis Bashe So, you've decided to focus on your mental health, but don't know how to begin searching for a therapist? While it can take a lot of research and time, finding the right therapist is worth the e ff ort. Here are some tips that can make finding the right mental health professional easier. For starters, it helps to learn about the types of therapy available to choose from. Maybe you prefer the more traditional talk therapy. Or, maybe you love to create and would benefit from art therapy, or you’d like to see a hypnotherapist who can help you relax. Researching options and asking yourself which one seems best is important, as is understanding that certain types of therapy are more appropriate for specific issues. Many therapists are trained in more than one type of therapy and may use a combination of techniques. Next, consider the areas of expertise identified by the therapist. Ask prospective therapists what training they’ve had working with disability, chronic illness, and related issues. A therapist who admits they don’t know something might be a better fit than someone who gets defensive. In addition to being honest about how much they know, a good therapist should be willing to learn new things. Finding a therapist with specific expertise in Marfan syndrome, VEDS, Loeys-Dietz syndrome or other connective tissue conditions may not be as important as working with a therapist who is willing to learn about you and your diagnosis. Another tip is to use websites and services that can match you with therapists whose background you may be able to relate to better. Having Marfan, Loeys-Dietz, or VEDS is only part of your story. You may want to find a therapist who has experience beyond those with disability – for example, with other characteristics that are also part of your identity, such as race, gender, and sexuality. In addition, personal recommendations are often valuable, so perhaps you know someone from your local hospital or community group who may have a suggestion. Your doctor’s o ffi ce may also maintain a list of therapists and your insurance company will have a list of therapists included in their network. Regardless of who you choose, make sure the

therapist has had the appropriate education from a licensed training program. Qualified therapists may include psychiatrists (MD), psychologists (PhD, PsyD), social workers (LCSW), and counselors, who should have graduated from an accredited school and have the proper credentials. While counseling is often obtained from religious clergy or community leaders -- and can be very helpful -- therapists provide a di ff erent type of support. Keep in mind that a therapist might seem like a good fit based on a recommendation, expertise, type of therapy practiced and training; however, it's not always going to be a good fit. It's not uncommon to switch therapists until finding one you have a connection with. Remember, therapy is kind of like dating. You might have to talk to a lot of people before you find “the one” for you. Therapy Post-Surgery “Surgery is a PTSD you forever, whether you are the patient or the family member, and the psychological stressors are best dealt with in therapy.” The event is not over, even after the surgery and physical recovery. Ann explains: “For Julie, it was important for her to have someone besides me to talk with and help her process what she went through and how the surgery a ff ected her life.” The needs of the caregiver are also important. “I had to be in an unemotional mindset to get through the surgeries and be able to make medical decisions for Julie,” said Ann. “I would not have been able to function from an emotional place. Afterwards, it takes time to process the ongoing experience of recovery, life after a major surgical event, and your own memories of all you have witnessed and felt.” p Ann and Julie, with Pikachu (post-traumatic stress disorder) event,” said Ann Thal, of Maryland, whose wife, Julie, had seven visits to the surgical suite in eight days in 2020. “It’s with

Resources from The Marfan Foundation: While you are searching for a therapist, The Marfan Foundation has resources that might be helpful. We have webinars covering topics such as depression and anxiety, self-care, and mindfulness. We also o ff er virtual support groups on many di ff erent topics. Wherever you are in your mental health journey, we’re here for you, so check out what we have to o ff er!


Winter 2022

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