How to Find a Therapist for Childhood Emotional Neglect
I’ve seen several therapists in the past, and none of them talked about CEN with me.
My therapist talks about Emotional Neglect, but does not seem to have the same picture of it that you describe in Running on Empty.
My therapist doesn’t seem to understand what I mean when I talk about Childhood Emotional Neglect.
Can you please help me find a CEN specialist near me?
My book, Running on Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect came out in 2012. Since then, I have enjoyed hearing from thousands of readers. Each week, I get multiple letters and emails from readers telling me their stories or asking questions about Childhood Emotional Neglect.
Often the messages are from people who read the book and feel that they finally can see the underlying cause of their struggles. Many of these folks have been in therapy in the past and found it helpful, but felt that an important piece was not addressed; their Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN). The questions and comments above are ones which I have heard from literally hundreds of people.
There are several reasons why it is difficult to find a therapist who knows what you mean when you talk about CEN as it’s described in Running on Empty:
- Although almost every therapist understands the concept of Emotional Neglect, most do not necessarily use the term Emotional Neglect to describe it. There still is not a recognized, universal term.
- Since there is not yet a body of research proving the full picture of CEN, most mental health professionals do not necessarily see that full picture as it is described in the book. Until I have that research, Running on Empty is the only resource describing CEN fully. If your therapist has not read the book, he or she probably will not have the entire concept in mind.
This is why so many therapists seem to understand what you mean when you use the term Emotional Neglect, but then don’t talk about it directly or fully as treatment progresses.
Here’s the good news: Any well-trained, competent therapist who is open to reading Running on Empty will be able to quickly jump on board and help you with it.
Here are my suggestions:
- Start with a therapist who has good credentials, experience and/or a recommendation from a trusted source.
- If you are interested in doing the recovery exercises in the second half of the book, you might want to find a therapist who has skills in the cognitive-behavioral area. However, a therapist who describes herself as a “behaviorist” would probably not be a good match for this.
- Therapists use many different terms to describe themselves and I know it can be confusing. Many psychodynamic therapists will be on-board with doing this work with you, but therapists who say they are psychoanalytic will probably want to follow their own style of treatment and may not be a good fit.
- When you call for a first appointment, talk with the therapist on the phone first. Tell her about the book and that you are looking for a therapist to help you with “not just generic emotional neglect” but “the full picture of Childhood Emotional Neglect that is described in the book.”
- Ask the therapist if he/she will be willing to read the book, including the ‘For the Therapist’ chapter.
- If all systems are go, then take a copy of the book to your first appointment.
- At your first appointment, try to describe why this way of understanding yourself is helpful, and why other things you’ve tried have missed the mark.
- If you feel in the first meeting that the therapist isn’t fully on board, try another one. Seeing a therapist once does not obligate you to go back.
I hope you find these tips useful. And I hope you will not hold back from getting help with this. It’s possible to heal yourself, but it can be much easier with the support and guidance of a professional who truly understands what you are going through and how to mend it.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by this process or a bit at-sea, you can request a one-hour phone or Skype consult between your therapist and me (if your therapist is willing, of course). To learn more about scheduling a consult, please visit my Private Practice page.