For Therapists and Counselors...

Q: I am at present in therapy for child abuse … I have hit an impasse with my therapist and just can not get past it … It is frustrating me as to why the one thing that has been running throughout my whole life is the one thing I can not talk about.

Any ideas as to moving forward would be appreciated.

A: Impasses happen in therapy all the time. They happen because you need the time together to gather courage, build trust, or both. This is particularly true when it comes to childhood abuse.

Gathering Courage: When dealing with abuse, we need to trust that, as an adult, we are strong enough to overcome both the abusers and the memories of the abuse. Even if the abusers are no longer around, we need to feel capable of defending ourselves against such people in the very unlikely event that we’d ever meet that kind of danger again. And we also need to know that we can handle both actually having the memories, and the process of telling the therapist about them in enough detail for the therapist to be able to help us.

Building Trust – Trust is always a matter of degree. So even if you trust your therapist plenty to help you deal with most things, you still might not trust them enough yet to deal with these things. Learning whether you can trust the therapist more means sharing more time with them during the impasse.

Some “bottom lines”:

1) You and the therapist are a team, and this team needs to feel strong enough to handle the abuse.

2) It takes time, during the impasses, for you to know that you are strong enough, and that you and your therapist are strong enough together.

3) It is possible that you’ve gone as far as you can possibly go with this particular therapist. But if you feel that you and your therapist are a good match and you eventually will feel strong enough together, stay with your therapist even during the impasse.

Hope this helps!

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