This weeks blog addresses the topic of treating sexual abuse and incest survivors.
I have been a counselor, therapist, program director, program development consultant. I have been working to help those with issues pertaining to addiction, co-dependency, trauma, unresolved grief field since 1973.
I’ve seen the topic of sexual abuse and incest be completely ignored, especially in the day when the “just treating the #1 Problem Concept” was dominate in the traditional treatment model i.e. only look at the addictive behavior and help the client fully accept their addiction. The other issues can be resolved later on in their recovery.
In this example the client leaves treatment but returns to their addictive behavior, or a new one, because the underlying problem (in this case incest or sexual abuse) cause pain and they only know how to repress their feelings.
So abstinence goes out the window, they medicate again, create more problems, enter treatment and begin the cycle again. As a counselor and then Program Director I have heard this from addicts in recovery, LPC’s, LMFT, PhD’s, MD’s, and Nurses , even women’s treatment programs but the cycle remained til some in the field expanded their knowledge base and changed the dynamic.
When I incorporated treating addiction versus the "# 1 problem concept" and began treating all addictive orders concurrently in the mid 1980, I began adding therapies like auricular acupuncture, acupressure Energy Psychologies like EFT, TFT, TAT, the Sedona Method, the Silva Method, grief Work, Voice Dialogue, Image Relationship Therapy, Breathwork, hypnosis, CBT, EMDR, and incorporated them into my up until then "traditional western" influenced treatment models the results I was getting dramatically increased as I went into private practice. I began challenging all the “professional counselor/therapist” rules I had encountered from 1973 to 1989 and began to find many avenues now open to me to learn and help my clients heal, faster and more effectively. 90% of my clients over a 42 year period have been women and at least 80-90% of them were survivors of incest or sexual abuse. Some things I’ve learned along the way.
Listening to the client and have no agenda of your own.
Introduce the reality that they can chose to participate - and heal, or stay where they are and either is OK if it is OK with them.
Help them discover their patterns and triggers to escape (by asking a lot of questions). Ask about their dependency upon their use of drugs, alcohol, sex, perpetrator behavior, spending, gambling, work, relationships, falling in love, losing themselves in relationships, how are they co-dependency, ask about cutting, depression, anger, rage, acting out, blaming, resentment, being victim, memory flooding, shame responses and intensity, their present definition of their healing (what will it look like), what is their desire to heal, what is their sense of belief that they can heal, what is their sense of deserving to heal, what is their sense of safety to heal, answer often “once healed will the (nightmare-fears etc. return), sense of trusting the healing process. Checking their answers with muscle testing (Applied Kinesiology) is very helpful at getting at the truth.
What is the therapist comfort level of listening to and asking questions about incest, sex, sexual abuse and possibility for sexual and relationship health in their lives.
What is the comfort level between therapist and client, is the dynamic client/therapist same sex or different sex? If so why.
Healthy sexual behavior discussions between client/therapist, client and same sex friend, lover/mate and/or opposite sex friend, is sex talk private (the person is in charge of the information), or secret (the information is in charge of the person), establishing, maintaining or changing boundaries.
Therapies that I've found beneficial are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Challengeing and Changing Negative Core beliefs, 12 step programs 4th step, journaling, Energy Psychology EFT, TFT or EMDR, Theapeutic Massage when the time is right to clear the body memories - use same sex massage therapist who you work with who understands the difference between body work and body memories work, and have a release of information signed by the client, spiritual development & meditation have proven very powerful as they are going within for internal acceptance, answers and peace, Reiki, Healing Touch, Pranic Healing non touch therapies that can balance out chaos.
The course "Sexual Abuse and Incest Survivors" can be found by found at www.contemporaryteaching.com along with 76 other interesting home-study courses for C.E.U.'s. I also offer 1 and 2 day Live CEU training.