Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Finding Strength in Therapy: Navigating Sexual Violence Recovery without Reliving the Details

"I'm a victim of sexual violence. Do I need to share details about the attack in therapy?" 
That was easy, right? So here's the long answer.
Almost everything you've seen on TV about sexual violence counselling is wrong.
On TV, people who have been attacked go into therapy and are forced to detail the experience.
It's bunk. Reliving the details is traumatising. In sessions, we don't do this.

History Factoid

The first mental health professionals working in the early 1900s thought that reliving trauma was healing. They talked about bringing it to the surface and healing through pain.
Turns out that was a major mistake.
Judith L. Herman's book "Trauma and Recovery"
A terrific resource
By the 1950s, mental health professionals realised they were on the wrong track. They emphasised compassion.

But it was  Judith L. Herman's book "Trauma and Recovery" published in 1997 that redirected crisis and trauma counselling into a modern direction. 
Her principles are to empower with support, care, and information. 
I take my cue from her and work to Trauma-Informed Care standards. 
Compassionate counseling for adult survivors is not cut and paste because every client has unique experiences and goals. So there's no step-by-step blueprint.
But the values for safe and supportive counseling for survivors are always the same.

Ellen Whyte, Trauma-Informed Care standards. Compassionate Counseling For Adult Survivors

Trauma-Informed Care standards. Compassionate Counselling For Adult Survivors

So if you've had a bad time, please don't think that going to therapy means reliving the details.
Television writers stick to those scenes because audiences get a thrill from the horror of the retelling.
In trauma recovery through therapy, the focus is on empowerment, care and positive change.
If you're looking for support for healing from sexual violence, drop me an email or text.