Counselling Therapy for Adults Abused as Children in London
If you are an adult survivor of childhood abuse, you are likely to have experienced its long-reaching emotional, psychological or physical effects. It is possible that you may not have spoken about your childhood trauma to anyone and may be wondering whether therapy is the route for you to take. If you are considering having therapy for coping with child abuse in adulthood, my work with you would be sensitive and careful with an emphasis on creating a safe and confidential space for you to explore ways of living with your history in a more tolerable way.
Adults Considering Therapy for Coping with Childhood Abuse
Whatever stage in your adult life and however far in the past it may have been, taking the decision to have therapy for childhood trauma is without a doubt a major step. It could be something that you have been considering for some time or perhaps recent circumstances have prompted you to visit my website. I hope you might find it helpful to know some of the reasons that clients have sought my support for this issue:
- Painful thoughts, memories, flashbacks and dreams
- Unexplained physical pain, spells of dizziness or other psychosomatic symptoms
- Low self-esteem or lack of confidence
- Feelings of shame and self-blame
- Difficulties with forming and/or maintaining intimate and trusting relationships
- Difficulties conceiving
- When you/your partner is pregnant and fear that your child might encounter abuse
- When your child is at the age you were when you were abused
- When you learn of a safeguarding issue regarding a child
- When you hear news of your abuser
- When ongoing contact with your abuser (i.e. family member) becomes intolerable
- When a case of child abuse attracts media attention
- When you are considering seeking justice
- When you have the freeze response and dissociate *see below
If you have one or more of these signs of childhood trauma, therapy can help by talking through your thoughts and feelings and how they affect you in your contemporary life which can help to ease some of the pain of the past. However, please be assured that there is no pressure for you to say anything that you don’t want to or are not ready to do. It is very important that therapy goes gently and at your pace as our work is about healing wounds and restoring emotional wellness. It is very important that you feel safe and comfortable, that you work with a therapist who is patient and who encourages you to be patient with yourself.
Signs of Childhood Trauma in Adults – *Dissociating and the Freeze Response
‘Dissociation’ and ‘freeze’ are words that you may have heard linked with the trauma of abuse. It can be alarming to experience them, or to be given a diagnosis of dissociative disorder. For some though, the symptoms may be so familiar that they have become part of everyday life.
We have long known about the ‘fight or flight’ response, i.e. when faced with danger, we fight or we run and our physiology responds in a series of ways in order to accommodate this response. More recently however, we have learned that beyond fight/flight we also have a ‘freeze’ response. So, in the last moment of the chase, when there is no possibility of fighting or running, our autonomic nervous system goes into the freeze response and we become immobilised/numbed out/paralysed by fear. In the animal kingdom it makes the kill less excruciating. For us humans, being physically, mentally and emotionally frozen (dissociated) enables us to endure harrowing experiences with somewhat less intensity.
It is important to recognise that this is a survival strategy that you instinctively shifted to when under attack – quite possibly in a life-threatening situation. However the original response is re-triggered throughout adult life because it is never fully discharged until it is addressed. So, when we are under stress we tend to dissociate, and that frequently manifests in panic attacks, depression, phobias, bouts of dizziness, feeling disconnected, having memory lapses and other anxiety states. When left unaddressed, the freeze doesn’t have the opportunity to thaw.
Another form of dissociating is to remain in denial that the abuse happened and instead turn to food, alcohol, drugs and other addictions in a way to release tension and divert attention away from the abuse. However this is in itself a form of abuse and in effect keeps the one thing you are trying to shift away from alive. Part of therapy for adults who have survived child abuse is breaking the denial of what happened rather than minimising it.
My Aims for Therapy for Adult Survivors of Childhood Abuse
Whether you are a man or a woman, whether the childhood abuse you suffered took the form of neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse or emotional abuse, or if you experienced abuse at boarding school, my aims are:
- To help you to talk about it – perhaps for the first time
- To validate your experience
- To help you to look at what happened from your adult perspective
- To establish and reinforce compassion
- To reduce shame and any self-blame
- To establish and reinforce a stronger sense of self-worth
- To acknowledge and process anger towards your abuser
- To process intimacy and sexuality issues
- To reconnect and reintegrate with yourself
- To help you manage anxiety
- To help you to locate and acknowledge your resourcefulness and resilience
- To locate and re-establish authenticity
- To re-establish trust and hope in yourself and others
Therapy for Partners and Friends of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse
If your partner or friend has shared sensitive information with you about abuse they received as a child, you may feel that you would like to process what you have learned in a confidential setting with an experienced therapist. There are ways to support yourself, your partner or friend and the relationship that you share.
It is also possible that you have read this page because you are worried about your partner or your friend as you suspect that they may have a history of childhood abuse and are wondering how best to support them.
Therapy with Amanda for Adults Abused as Children
If you would like to read more on the subject of Childhood Abuse in Adults, here’s a good article on the Psychotherapytoday website
…and a good book:
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