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Archive for September 14th, 2010

Child abuse survivors need therapy. Period. It does not matter if the abuse happened one time or was ongoing throughout your childhood. Healing from child abuse is extremely difficult, and you need a qualified therapist to help you through it.

I was determined not to enter into therapy when I first started having flashbacks about the child abuse. I was in the process of trying to adopt a child, and I feared that I would be “disqualified” if I was in therapy because I would be seen as “crazy.” (As it turns out, therapy is highly encouraged for hopeful adoptive parents and will not be held against you. You just need to have your therapist write a letter stating that your reason for seeking therapy will not negatively affect your ability to parent a child.)

I decided that I was going to do the healing work myself. The problem was that every resource I turned to began with, “Find a good therapist.” There is a very good reason for this advice …you need to work with a qualified therapist with experience working with people who have been abused because trying to do it yourself is simply too hard. If it was possible to heal through sheer force of will, then I would have done it.

If you try to heal from the child abuse yourself, you will find yourself in over your head. When you first come to terms with the reality that you were abused, you will go through a “breakthrough crisis.” For me, this felt like a pressure cooker of emotions had the lid blown off of it, and my emotions had exploded all over me. For six weeks, I truly did not know from minute to minute if I was going to survive it. Nevertheless, I was hell-bent on healing myself. I changed my mind after finding myself lying on the floor, shaking, crying, hyperventilating, and trying to decide on the best way to commit suicide. At this point, I realized that anything would be better than this and decided to enter therapy.

You will have many reasons not to enter therapy … costs too much … don’t have the time … etc. None of these reasons outweigh your need for therapy, especially during the early weeks and months in coming to terms with your history of trauma. If you were diagnosed with cancer, would you make the time to see a doctor? If you didn’t have insurance to treat the cancer, wouldn’t you seek out trial studies or lower income medical care to find affordable treatment? If you were abused as a child, you have emotional “cancer,” and the healing process is the “chemo.” Don’t try to treat the “cancer” yourself – work with a professional to help you heal.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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