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Archive for June 24th, 2010

I had decided to find a therapist, but I had absolutely no idea how to go about finding one. I certainly was not just going to pick a name out of the yellow pages. I confided in a woman at church that I was experiencing flashbacks of sexual abuse, and she asked our pastor (confidentially) for a referral. This therapist (T) worked at a mainstream religious-based counseling center, so I had my doubts about his competence.

I decided to call T and do a phone interview. If he did not believe me over the phone about the existence of mother-daughter sexual abuse, then I would not waste my time meeting him face-to-face. He surprised me by saying that he had previously counseled a patient who had experienced this. He also told me that, while he might have an office at this religious-based counseling center, he was a licensed psychologist with 20+ years of experience in the “secular” world. He was a psychologist first and foremost.

That first session was the most difficult one to attend. Would he believe me? How would I even start? Would he believe that I had no memory whatsoever of the abuse only four weeks before? How would I pay for him without hub noticing? How could I tell hub? I thought about canceling the appointment, but I forced myself to go.

We started by discussing his credentials and then talked about my goals in therapy. I just wanted not to feel crazy any longer. He explained about how therapy works – that I needed to talk about what was upsetting me until I no longer needed to talk about it any longer.

I had a hard time talking about myself. My entire life had always revolved around doing things for other people. I truly did not know how to sit and talk about myself to someone for an hour. I also did not know how to receive someone actually paying attention and “hearing” me.

However, once I started talking, words tumbled out so rapidly that I don’t know how T even kept up. I never saw him take notes, and I am unaware of him recording the sessions. However, he always remembered every detail. He listened, and that was a completely new experience for me.

If you are resisting therapy, don’t. You need to do your homework to find a qualified therapist, and look for one with real qualifications, such as a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist. If you are seeking therapy for healing from child abuse, your needs run much deeper than what a well-meaning religious counselor or pastor is capable of offering. You don’t need to hear that an alter part is a “demon” or that you need to “pray away” your symptoms. While faith can be an important part of healing (and it certainly was for me), you need to work with someone with training and education on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

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Photo credit: Hekatekris

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