Sexual Abuse

Counseling People Who Were Sexually Abused: An Approach Based on Morita and Naikan Therapies

Early in my work, I thought it was necessary to have the client talk about the details of the abuse and to get the client in touch with her feelings about it. It was assumed that to cope as a child she had to dissociate from her feelings or "bury" them. What I found was clients were all too much in touch with certain thoughts and feelings about the past and out of touch with many other elements of their past and present. Attention was often focused on how no one cared for them in the past and into the present. They ignored the efforts of a caring aunt, a grandfather who took them to ball games, or a teacher who payed special attention to them. They take for granted a husband who drives them to their appointment, watches the kids in the waiting room and takes the family for ice cream on the way home. These experiences provide realistic context and balance to those parts of their lives that were, or are, miserable. Many clients lived their day to day lives as if it were the most miserable part of their past. Using Naikan-like assignments with clients, many now recognize that life is not all tragic, even in homes where a lot of abuse may have taken place.
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