Therapy Approaches for Abuse Survivors
Abuse can affect virtually anybody, from all walks of life, both genders, and all ages. Abuse shows its ugly face in many forms as well from physical to emotional battery to sexual abuse and neglect. It has been estimated that as high as two-thirds of substance abuse clients in therapy have suffered some form of abuse during childhood; 80% of individuals that have been referred to mental health providers had backgrounds that included experiencing childhood abuse. Regardless of the situation, abuse survivors don’t need to live in fear and pain because there is help available. By finding out more about the various types of abuse and what can be done to prevent or stop it, you can make a huge difference in either your own or someone else’s life.
Abuse can leave psychological scars that are more difficult to heal than physical injuries. People who have gone through abusive experiences struggle with distressing emotions, terrifying memories and often a sensation of constantly being in danger, often feeling disconnected, numb and unable to trust. Distressing memories, depression, and anxiety end up causing intimacy problems and often lead to self-destructive behavior and anger issues. When abusive things happen, it can take a long time to get over the suffering and feel safe again. Fortunately, with the right treatment and support, you can speed up the recovery process and whether the abuse happened yesterday or years ago, it’s possible to heal and live a healthy, happy life.
In order to heal from psychological and emotional abuse, you first need to face and deal with the intolerable memories and feelings you’ve more than likely been avoiding, burying deep inside; if you don’t, they’ll crop up over and over again. Therapy can help abuse survivors express as well as process the difficult emotions that are associated with the abuse, develop compassion, learn self-care strategies that can help them manage emotions when they’re overwhelmed, and eventually learn to trust again. There are several therapeutic approaches that have been highly effective including everything from eye movement desensitization to narrative therapy and the use of mindfulness techniques like meditation. Equine assisted therapy has also been shown to have a substantial impact when it comes to treating both the physiological and psychological aspects of abuse related problems. Some of the benefits of Equine assisted therapy include the reduction in stress, better social interactions, improved self-esteem and patience, and self-empowerment.
Group therapy has been proven to be effective when it comes to social support that helps abuse survivors cope their feelings of guilt, shame, and alienation from others (common side effects of abuse). Group therapy provides a safe place to interact and connect with other individuals who have lived through similar experiences. For individuals who aren’t ready to deal with their feelings of vulnerability and fear in a group setting, working with a therapist one on one is the best option and it is a good starting point for treatment.
Most people, at some point in their lives, have academic problems, whether it’s elementary school, high school or college. The stress of experiencing academic underachievement can have a huge impact on self-esteem and, in younger students, particularly, lead to emotional withdrawal and/or acting out. The stress of academic problems can lead to even more stress and other situations that they have trouble dealing with, eventually interfering with their home lives, friendships which are so important, and work.
Academic underachievement doesn’t just affect children or young adults with learning disabilities; it can be attributed to intelligent or gifted students as well, who at times face problems with their studies because they’re bored with the material or are having some sort of emotional problem, perhaps having something to do with family conflicts or self-esteem issues. It could be a situation where, in relation to a sibling, one child excels in school and the other doesn’t and the parent put the academically successful child on a pedestal. Studies have shown that individuals who constantly struggle in an attempt to reach their full potential in some cases were dealing with learning disabilities like ADHD and Dyslexia.
Common Academic Underachievement Causes
- The student is dealing with bullying at school
- Disinterest in the class subjects
- Not enough attention from the teachers
- Having trouble understanding the topics of study
- Time management and procrastination issues
Be your Child’s Advocate
Keep the lines of communication (open and positive communication) with your child open regarding school, and offer advice or help if they ask for it. If your child is having trouble interacting with a teacher, dealing with a bully, or is falling behind in a class or classes, don’t be reluctant about intervening. The daily challenges of school life often seem trivial to adults who’ve been out of school for a long time, but for younger children and teens, a school can be everything. When their grades are poor, or school life, in general, goes badly, life for the student is miserable, so take your child’s concerns and sudden attitude changes seriously. Also, keep in mind that the school’s principal and teachers are there to help your child with their academics and to advocate, meet with the teachers and find out how, together, you can help your child succeed.
Counseling and Psychotherapy
Counseling can help relieve the stress that is in many cases is the cause of academic concerns, helping the student cope in a positive way. Psychotherapy, taking counseling a step further by helping determine the cause of the stresses or concerns which can both be related to the actual academics or other personal issues. Typical personal issues that can cause academic struggles include traumatic experiences like bullying, family or personal problems, financial problems and more. Psychotherapy addresses these kinds of underlying issues and helps to correct them. Academically related concerns can be addressed and helped to correct them. Academically related concerns can be addressed and helped by getting support from within the school system, including hiring a tutor or seeing the school counselor, advisor, or tutor.
Dealing with Abandonment Issues
Dealing with feelings of abandonment is one of the most difficult problems to face, often leading to irrational levels of fear, depression, high levels of anxiety and mistrust. In many cases, people living in fear of abandonment and up living their lives trying to please everyone (an impossible task) and killing relationships because of feelings of jealousy based on mistrust. These issues have a huge impact on romantic relationships, friendships, careers and even how we interact with family, including our children, which can lead to a vicious cycle of abandonment, it may help to know you’re not alone, even if you currently feel that way.
Abandonment fears often stem from a traumatic loss during the childhood years like the loss of a parent through the divorce (made even worse by a parent that felt abandoned and brought the child into the turmoil) or death. These feelings can also stem from inadequate physical or emotional care. Even though some degree of the fear of abandonment is a normal part of life, when the fear is frequent, severe and impossible to console, it can cause significant problems, especially when it comes to developing healthy relationships.
People who have experienced abandonment are more likely end up with long-term psychological challenges because they live in fear of being abandoned again and feeling unloved. This is particularly hard on children when they don’t receive the emotional support they deserve from a parent, often due to the parent’s own psychological problems, sadly leading to a lack of the healthy self esteem typically seek out friends and partners who bolster those negative beliefs, leading to intimacy problems, co-dependence, anxiety, a feeling of unworthiness and more.
Abandonment in Relation to Emotional and Physical Care
Common traumatic childhood events can e the death of a parent or the inability to feel safe because of a lack of adequate shelter or due to threatening circumstances such as physical, sexual or emotional abuse (which is very common). Emotional abuse is often caused by parents who ridicule their children or constrain their children’s emotional expression, holding them to unreasonable and impossible to live up to high standards. Sadly, for most people, childhood abandonment issues follow them to adulthood.
Therapy to Minimize Fear of Abandonment
The best way to deal with abandonment issues is to surround yourself with people that you trust, however, this is often easier said than done. It is a good idea to enlist the help of a professional counselor who will teach you how to develop healthy relationships with people you can trust. Skilled therapists will also help you address the experiences that have led to your feelings of abandonment. Working with a therapist, you’ll be able to learn how to separate fears of the past from the present, putting you in a position to achieve a cognitive transformation so that you can develop positive and realistic expectations in life.
The emotional healing begins when the person facing abandonment issues is able to recognize that their fears are grounded in the past and that they can develop the ability to reduce the way fear controls their emotionally charged responses to their relationships and life events.
With time and effective therapeutic approaches, people dealing with abandonment issues can learn to trust again and live the happy lives that they deserve.
Dealing with Abortion Grief By Taking a Therapeutic Approach
The most common feeling that strikes after having an abortion is the relief; sadly, it’s not always permanent. Granted, everyone’s unique, so feelings do vary from woman to woman. In some cases, a deep sadness and sense of loss sets in immediately following the abortion; some experience the emotion when they first come to the decision to have one. When both emotions (grief/relief) come into play, and they often do, you end up with a troubling cocktail of feelings that can be difficult to deal with.
Part of the healing process problem is the taboo’s that come with abortion, from religious beliefs to the opinions of some of our political leaders, those that don’t believe in a woman’s the freedom of choice. Even though abortion is legal in the United States and has been for years, the stigma attached to it hasn’t decreased very much, making some women who’ve had an abortion feel secretly tainted or marked, as if the act itself has blemished their character and that others would be disgusted if they knew about the abortion.
It’s important that women have a safe place to share their feelings about an abortion loss, away from religious and/or political debate. If you are in emotional or even spiritual pain following an abortion, there are several options and resources available that will help you along your journey to renewed psychological as well as spiritual well being.
Find a safe, nurturing place to talk, to cry and to share your feelings. There are people to talk to who will not only support whatever decision you make/have made regarding abortion and that will be there to listen and understand, not to judge. These people can be trusted friends and family members or compassionate, professional therapists who understand abortion grief and provide a safe, non-judgmental place to grieve and heal.
If you don’t have anyone in your life that you feel safe talking to about your abortion, then consider seeing a therapist or counselor, professionals that are trained to listen, and have helped others who have struggled with issues of guilt, grief, depression and low self-esteem. Talking to a therapist can actually prove to be more helpful than talking to someone you know.
The Therapeutic Approach
First and foremost, you’ll want to find an empathic and compassionate therapist or counselor you feel comfortable with. It’s important to feel that this professional cares about and respects you. The program and the individuals involved with it should be nonjudgmental, respectful, and knowledgeable. If, after 2 or 3 sessions, you don’t feel good about your therapist, you should look for someone else via online referrals or from the medical clinic where you had the abortion.
If you’re not certain whether a 1 on 1 approach or a group setting would be the best choice for you, consider trying both. You could start with a private consultation at first, get used to sharing your feelings and then try a group setting. The nice thing about group counseling is that it can be empowering to really see that you’re not alone, that other people are in the same emotional place you are.
Whether you seek the help of a therapist or a close friend you feel safe sharing with, it’s important that you realize that you aren’t alone and you don’t need to isolate yourself as you recover.