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Thread: Counseling/therapist issues and discussions

  1. #1
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    Counseling/therapist issues and discussions

    My 13-year-old daughter was sexually abused from age 5 to 10 by her stepfather. He has been in prison now for 3 years. She is an extremely private young woman, has had counseling before, but is no longer willing to attend any more counseling sessions.
    How can I convince her that it could help her with her depression, etc. I am worried about her hurting herself; I've seen minor cuts on her wrist, which she explained as 'eraser burns', and that she and her friend were just 'goofing around'.
    Her grades in school are anything but desirable. I want to help her, but I don't know how to proceed. I don't want to force her to attend counseling, yet I wonder if I have any other options?
    Please, if anyone has any advice, please respond.

  2. #2
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    So sorry you and your daughter are having to dealing with the tough aftermath of her abuse.

    I am a bit low on ideas regarding your daughter's choice to discontinue her counselling sessions. imho encouraging her to go against her will...is not going to work. Mayhap like all of us who have had an intensive period of therapy following a trauma she needs some time and space to process...come to terms with both her traumatic experience and process the help she has already received. I know sometimes my gut lets me know I need some time out...to forget the trauma for a bit...to do normal day to day stuff.

    If you have talked to her and her choice to leave counselling is not based on any issues that could be resolved by changing her counselor I think I would respect her wish for space...reminding her that if at any time she wishes to return you would utterly support her decision. I think it is pretty important that she feels listened to...that you are hearing and respecting her wishes. That you will always be there for her ready to listen if she wants to share or needs support.

    Your daughter is so lucky to have you - a caring mother in her life. I know how hard it is to support a child's healing journey. I hope you are also receiving the professional support you need and deserve.
    Rest in my arms precious child; cradled and warm. You are safe. The war is over.

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  4. #3
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    It might be hard for your daughter at first to accept that there's something wrong.
    Some people just find councelling quite hard tbh because you have to talk about your past experiences and stuff.
    I say you just sit down and talk to her, explain calmly that eve though it's hard councelling will help, also about the self-harming; it would be good if you try to speak to her about it, get her to explain what's causing it and stuff. xx

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    Jane (02-28-2014)

  6. #4
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    Thirteen is a kind of a funky age even if you haven't been abused. In my opinion you can't even really say that meaningfully without knowing somebody whether a 13-year-old is still a kid or just a really young adult; people can mature at such different rates it's astonishing. I was a pretty quick-to-mature kid so I feel like I can put myself in a young adult's place more so than a big kid's place.

    One broad point whether you're dealing with a 13-year-old kid or a 13-year-old young lady is that counseling is the kind of process that only works if you're invested in it, and if you feel like you're being made to attend or "talked into" doing it you're probably not going to show up all the way and participate fully. She may, like Jane said, need a bit of a break. You know, when you put all the breaks and days off together kids only spend about half the calendar year in school and yet they get through the curriculum - some down time seldom harms anybody. Once she regroups a little she may realize that having the professional support is a good thing and she would like more.

    If your daughter is more a young woman than a big kid at this point you might even try asking her to think a little about what she would like to change in her life; what she would like to be able to do or change about her life...how she feels versus how she would like to feel...and to let you in on it as she feels ready. More counseling might be the answer, or it might be something else. Here at the Fort we have a whole sub-forum about improving quality of life where we talk about anything we can do to make life better, whether cooking or hobbies or new year's resolutions. You don't always need a therapist for life to get better; sometimes you just need to take one step at a time in the right direction.

    This is only an example based on my life experience but I wonder if maybe she has an ambition she hasn't talked about and doesn't feel equipped to move forward and act on, and if she made that leap to aim for something she wanted, her quality of life might really improve. When I was just about her age I really wanted to play a musical instrument but I didn't feel like I could ask for it; it took me a while but once I finally found a way to buy a guitar by myself so nobody would require me to take lessons (which I did not want to do at first), it changed my life. It was my source of comfort and self-expression when I was a struggling teen, and come to think of it, when I'm struggling as an adult that's still one of the best tools I have at my disposal. Your daughter could have her own secret dream or desire that acting on could really help.

    I would be hesitant also to attribute less than great grades to the aftereffects of the abuse unless other factors have been eliminated first. Sometimes really incredibly bright kids have one thing holding them back and it's so simple nobody thinks of it. Some people need help honing their organizational skills when they're very young; they don't know how to manage time or keep a good running schedule/to-do list together. Some people need study skills that match their learning style and orientation; if your girl isn't a fairly acute visual learner then the average school probably isn't catering very well to her needs, for example. Maybe it's a sensory issue - maybe her vision or hearing isn't quite as sharp as it ought to be so she's missing a lot. (Sometimes something as simple as built up ear wax makes life ridiculously hard - I know that sounds goofy but the stuff practically deafened me until I had a holistic practitioner remove it for me.) Or maybe something about the school environment is distracting or stressful enough that she needs either new tools to cope or a different school. I know when I transitioned to high school my grades went up pretty amazingly, so it's possible if your girl is an 8th grader and going to a different school next year, that change alone might really help. Just possibilities.

    In any case I'll be thinking good thoughts for your daughter and for you.


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  8. #5
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    I had two daughters that needed counseling at the early teen age and neither was willing to go. I insisted that we meet a female counselor first and we all went. This woman, while very nice, was clearly a bad fit. I told the girls we would look for someone more suited. Of course, they didn't want to go. I found a great guy but I was worried about the gender difference. He seemed very kind though so i asked the girls that we meet. They huffed and puffed but eventually went along.

    This guy had a great sense of humor. We chatted about basic background upon meeting and all went well. We attended as a family until he asked to meet with one or another, including me at times, alone. This was a few months in. Sometimes two would wait in the lobby then we all would go back. They could see me begin to talk about difficult things and experience what opening up was like.

    I'd be lying if I said they became comfortable with the idea of therapy. They shared small slices of their lives but… they new he was there if they needed him, they knew he was support to our family as a whole. During one particularly rough time, my oldest did ask to see him, told me she needed to talk with him. I still don't know what it was about but I was glad to know he was there.

    So, my thoughts are, maybe you could begin as a family, just go to talk, not to address any trauma specifically and ease into things. it takes time to build any trust and it might be that just knowing there is a source for help, if needed, would be a start. you might also consider if there is an adult that your daughter is willing to talk with. certainly, they are not therapists but it might be an opening to dialogue about her feelings.

    i wish you and your daughter the best during this difficult time.

  9. #6
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    Anything I can do

    I am so sorry that you and your daughter went through this. I am 16 and hope I can provide a different view point for you that might be similar to your daughters'.

    I went through a similar experience with my dad and came close to just ending it all. I was in a very bad place I am still using self harm to cope with it. My parents started a 5 year long divorce when I was in 6th grade and my mom made my brother and I attend counseling through 8th grade; it wasn't horrible, but it in no way helped me. I refused to tell him, the counselor, anything of importance and basically just put on an act for him. This had nothing to do with the counselor; he was renowned in his field and was the best in our area. I just didn't want to tell him anything. I didn't know what I was feeling myself and hadn't come to terms with what had happened; I didn't even realize my dad was abusive, I knew on some level that what he did was wrong, but he was my dad and I wanted to protect him. I also went into it with the idea that counseling was wrong, rare, and something to be ashamed of. This all contributed to it.

    I can tell you from experience that eraser burns are as bad as some cutting. They sometimes even last longer depending on how severe they are. If she was telling you the truth that her and her friends were just messing around, GET HER AWAY FROM THOSE FRIENDS. That being said, I find it unlikely that that is the truth. For me cutting is something to be ashamed of, none of my friends even know, but for her it could be different. I didn't start self harm until the summer before 10th grade, and I regret it every day. One thing you need to understand is that self harm is not a prelude to suicide, in fact if it hadn't been for self harm there is no doubt that I would have attempted suicide. Yes, self harm saved me from suicide. If you saw the marks on her wrists, be concerned; not because of suicide, but because in my case, I rarely, if ever, self harm on my lower arms because people will see. Your daughter is smart enough to have considered this too. Its possible that it could have been her first time and she simply wasn't thinking about it. I also know that the bottom of the lower arms is extremely sensitive area; it produces a lot of pain and if it weren't for people seeing it I would cut there all the time, its possible she just doesn't care who sees.

    Please feel free to reply with any questions. If there is anything I can do to help, let me know, if I can help her get through this it would mean everything. Please tell her that she will regret it for the rest of her life if she starts self harm, I know I do. You should also let her know she is not alone, this is something I really struggled with. Online forums have helped me so much. Just be aware that she might not want you to be involved, as hard as this might be for you. I know I don't want my mom knowing the specifics; if you haven't cut, you will never really understand what she is experiencing. Let her have her own accounts and don't snoop; if she wants you to know she will tell you. You have my full sympathy and I wish you both the best of luck as you deal with this. Please don't hesitate to reply, if something I went through can help someone else, I welcome the opportunity.

    (This is all my own personal opinion and experiences, I am not in any way claiming that it is true for everyone, I just felt like I had to do my best to help. Please don't take everything I said as fact, confirm it for yourself, I can only say what is true for me.)

  10. #7
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    random thought:
    regular counseling/therapy depends greatly (if not entirely) on clients goals and motivation. your daughter is the one who needs to initiate and maintain the whole process. she needs to come in with a clear idea of what is it that isn't working in her life and that she wants changed, and then she needs to brainstorm ideas on how to make this change happen. if she doesn't do that - therapist simply has nothing to work with. they can probe around for a while, asking her questions about things that other people in her shoes commonly struggle with - but if she doesn't volunteer info on what her therapeutic goals are - there's nowhere to go from here for the therapist. this can be hard for an adult - so naturally it's very hard for a 13yo. even if we ignore obvious issues caused by abuse.

    so what im thinking is - maybe an alternative idea would be to offer her some more specific help? art therapy? emotion management group? equine therapy? group therapy for kids her age? something that has pre-defined goals and clear planned things to do, so she doesn't have to be the one leading/initiating the process? self injury is often about inability to handle intense emotions - just not knowing what to do with them when they overwhelm you. what you do with emotions is - express them. if she doesn't want to talk to a therapist about them - that's fine, sign her up for art therapy, acting, writing, primal scream therapy lol - any other venue of expressing how she feels, dumping those emotions, unloading them safely, so that they become manageable.

    when i was 13 - i most certainly didn't want to have the classic therapy of sitting alone in a room with a professional adult shrink and talking to him about my life, on a weekly basis. no way in the world. made no sense to me. i saw no point in this except for him evaluating me (as if having parents and teachers doing that 24/7 wasn't enough), intruding on my personal private life, judging it, and telling me how to live my life. of course that wasn't what he was doing - but that's exactly how i perceived it. why do i need a complete stranger telling me how to handle my private matters? asking me intrusive questions that are none of his business? am i doing something wrong, that parents send me to him every week? am breaking some rules? ground me then, take away my tv time, do what you gotta do - but leave my psyche alone, dont psychoanalyze me, dont humiliate me with this arrangement. thats truly how i felt about it. yet - i absolutely loved various groups that our local center for kids offered - art therapy, anger group, general teen group, time management classes, acting, - there were many, and i enjoyed most of them. because i wasn't one on one with an adult i couldn't relate to, i was in a group with other kids my age, - and because there was a clear goal and purpose and framework. i could always explain what is it that we do in the group, why do i like it, and how does it help me grow into a well-adjusted individual. i also knew if im doing well in the group or not - because the goal of each activity was clear and my progress was measurable. for example - one day in anger group the goal was to think of the last argument we had with our parents and then take a big breath and scream as loud and long as we can, on that one breath. that was fun, and i knew i done good because i screamed the loudest and the longest (thanks to acting classes lol). i also knew that the purpose of the exercise was overcoming inhibitions to release emotions, and that it felt good to do that, and that this was a new skill i learned and could practice sometime, if only into a pillow. while with that traditional shrink i hated - i had no clue what the purpose of all these convos is, and if im doing good or bad there. he kept nodding his head, smiling, and asking for more - no matter what i told him - so i had no idea where am i standing, if im achieving anything, what does he want from me, and when are we gonna be done with this therapy thing.

    just wanted to share what it felt like
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  12. #8
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    Going to see a counsellor?

    Hi guys, well as the title suggests I'm due to see a counsellor but I'm so so nervous about it.
    I decided to go and see her because of stuff that happened when I was a child, the only problem is I don't remember much from the first 13 years of my life, just some bad stuff that happened so i feel like I'm wasting her time because I have no idea what to say. Is it even worth going? I can't get over the idea that I'll be sat there in silence and not be able to communicate anything.
    The session is for tomorrow and it's really playing on my mind.

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    hope it goes well
    we got this page that you might find interesting - what to tell your therapist first time you meet them
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    I have written things down ahead of time when I have been scared that I literally may loose my important thoughts or stutter or go mute. Often just having my thoughts written close by helps my mind stay on track.

    I think most therapists expect that the person they are seeing for the first time would be quite nervous and they expect to help a bit by making the first few session go easy for developing rapport, just getting to know one another sometimes.

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