Abuse - Neglect - Trauma
Counselling is crucial where there has been sexual, physical, mental and emotional abuse.
Most psychological injury is caused by prolonged exposure to a damaging experience or situation. This is usually something or someone in our childhood environment.
We make significant assumptions about ourselves, others and the how the world is based on childhood experiences and learning. When what we have experienced was painful or negative for us in some way these assumptions and perceptions are often distorted.
An abuse survivor may over-estimate the degree of danger or adversity in the world and under- estimates their own power and self-worth.
A person who grew up with an unavailable parent may not believe that they are worthy of love or that someone could actually love them.
A person that grew up with an angry parent may mistake direct communication or boundary setting for conflict or attack.
In order to survive a critical parent, a person may develop grandiosity and secret shame.
To cope with an anxious or fear-based parent, a person may become controlling or
A sexual abuse survivor may mistake sex for relationship.
Adaptations that we make to cope in our early experience, such as these above, are most often outside our own awareness. We may survive our early environment and grow into adulthood, but invariably some form of early adaptation (what is called a psychological injury) causes us problems in our adulthood.
Many of us may come under the category of “the functioning unwell”.
This is when a person may be able to hold a job or have a career, get married, go on holiday, buy a house, drive a car, etc. That is, he or she may look reasonably normal from the outside but there are underlying issues, or ways of feeling and being, that cause unhappiness, depression and ongoing problems.
As these destructive ways of thinking and feeling and behaving are mostly unconscious we can become stuck on a self-limiting auto-pilot. We need to learn to see and understand ourselves more clearly so that we can heal and make healthier choices about how to be with ourselves, with others, and in the world.
A more covert and less obvious form of abuse and trauma is physical or mental and emotional abandonment and neglect.
Many parents fail to notice and attune to their children in a way that is sufficient for healthy mental and emotional development in the child. They may be what is commonly called ‘unavailable’.
A parent may be unavailable to their child in many ways:
The parent may be in addiction (alcoholic, workaholic, food addict, drug addict, sex addict, busy addict).
They may be depressed, dissociated, anxious, fear-based or have some other form of mental illness.
They may have an anger or a negativity problem or be self-absorbed or narcissistic.
Their own parents (your grandparents) may have provided poor role-modelling for being available parents.
Neglect causes many different psychological injures including lack of self esteem, lack of value, addiction, depression, anxiety, insecurity, anger-management, being accommodating and appeasing, despair and hopelessness, commitment issues and being controlling.
Counselling works to uncover and repair all manner of psychological injuries.