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Abuse Counselling has a Beginning, Middle and an End… and it can help!
you were sexually abused, it is important to know that good counselling
can help you overcome problems arising from the abuse. Knowing what to
expect in counselling can make it easier for you to attend. Counselling
can be thought of in three stages…
beginning stage of counselling begins with disclosure and is characterized
by issues of trust, self-doubt, and even feelings of shame by some
a result of the disclosure, you may feel a rush of various emotions that
in turn may trigger a variety of defence mechanisms. You may feel like
fleeing, but hang in. Further, you may experience vivid recollections of
past abusive events. These recollections can flood your consciousness
during waking hours or intrude during sleep as nightmares. These are the
hallmarks of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Important in the
beginning stage of counselling then, is actually limiting your disclosure
so you avoid overwhelming yourself. In future sessions as you acclimatize
to the acknowledgement of the abuse, greater disclosure can proceed. The
counsellor will help you with these feelings so you overcome them.
middle stage of counselling begins as a continuation of the first. Issues
of trust, safety and security will be emergent and reoccurring themes. If
there has been a prior unsuccessful counselling effort you may be
ambivalent about the counsellor with concerns that the shortcomings of the
previous experience will be experienced yet again. It is therefore
important to discuss prior counselling efforts and concerns with your
counselling progresses and you are more comfortable, your defences will
relax and more personal detail of the abusive events may be disclosed.
However you may still find this overwhelming. The role of the counsellor
is to normalize these reactions and help you pace the disclosure and
exploration of events and thus help you gain control of your own emotions
and reactions. Throughout, the counsellor will also help you make
connections from past abusive events to present day symptoms.
the middle stage of counselling you may experience relief and/or
exacerbation of symptoms – ups and downs. This is to be expected and is
normal in the recovery process. Don’t be alarmed and feel free to
discuss these ups and downs with the counsellor. As counselling continues,
you will learn that the abuse and current symptoms are not a function of
your worth, value and humanity, but wrongful events perpetrated against
you beyond your control.
will learn to separate your sense of self from the abuse and the abuser
and establish a healthier identity. You will then be in a position to
appropriately assess your own interpersonal relationships and make better
choices. Further, you will be able to identify and separate your needs and
issues from others and choose how to best meet competing needs.
Eventually, your symptoms will subside.
middle stage draws to a close as you demonstrate enough symptom relief and
improved psychosocial functioning to manage independently.
The End Stage
the end of counselling, you may feel gratitude and a reluctance for it to
end. Your relationship to the counsellor may have been your healthiest
inter-personal experience in that it was non-exploitive. This can give
rise to a significant attachment. To ease the ending, you can request a
more gradual reduction of meetings or meetings of shorter duration,
“check-ins”. You can also request the opportunity to reconnect if
necessary as for a “booster shot”.
end of counselling can be the beginning of other services such as ongoing
support groups or educational opportunities. You may explore a new
lifestyle or job. In all cases, you will be encouraged to go out into
life, manage ambiguity and uncertainty, learn and flourish.
be held hostage by fear. If you have been sexually abused and it is
affecting your life, consider counselling.
can help and now
you know what to expect!
Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert on child development, parent-child relations, marital and family therapy, custody and access recommendations, social work and an expert for the purpose of giving a critique on a Section 112 (social work) report.
Call him for your next conference and for expert opinion on family matters. Services include counselling, mediation, assessment, assessment critiques and workshops.
For information on Direnfeld's book, Raising Kids Without Raising Cane, click here.
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20 Suter Crescent, Dundas, ON, Canada L9H 6R5 Tel: (905) 628-4847 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org