Psychological Counselling – What And When To Tell About Childhood Abuse

Aggressive parent. Father’s shadow yelling on a small child. Child is in distress.

Psychological counselling is supposed to be a private and confidential exercise with an independent and objective person. The vast majority of counsellors know that and respect it utterly. But for the person being counselled, that’s difficult to keep in mind. Yet, for him or her, is that all there is to it? I don’t think so.

Contemplating the counselling session and maybe the first one at that, sufferers can be in torment inside. They try telling themselves that their turmoil is all about their fear of what the counsellor might think of them when a clean-breast of it has been made. Will the counsellor believe them?

I believe two truths need to be exposed here.

Imagine that it is you or me planning to go through counselling.

First we would need to ask whether we ourselves, not the counsellor, are ready to hear aloud what we have to tell. Having maintained the secrecy so long, haven’t we been protected and insulated from our own memories.

Don’t we sense a real inner reluctance and reticence about exhaling the emotional stench that has been buried deep inside us?

Strong words, intentionally, but isn’t that how we can sense it?

Also the worse the buried memories and the longer they have been hidden, don’t those words need to be stronger?

Aren’t our answers: Yes. Yes and Yes?

Should this stop us in our tracks? Good Gracious! No! We just need to admit in our minds that this is much more about admitting all this aloud to ourselves than about telling others.

Doesn’t this evoke awareness of a second truth – and anxiety?

Won’t we collapse emotionally in the face of all this? We can feel the emergence of fear from our sub-conscious. Somehow over all the years, we have managed to keep a semblance of emotional self-control, despite it all. The fiercest feelings deep within us have been suppressed to enable us to try to live ordinary if strained lives.

So, as we face this potential out-pouring, we are inevitably anxious, even in a sudden panic as questions race through our minds:

  • If we let all this out now, exhale it, disgorge it, will we lose emotional control?.
  • Will it mean we can’t work because of emotional upset?
  • That we can’t face our family or our friends?

The answer to that is that there may be some unpredictable and unaccountable moments if and when we lose it emotionally. But if we ask ourselves what is worse: that or continuing to burden ourselves with hideous secrets inside, what must be our response? Surely, it has to be OK to lose it occasionally?

And one final point: the abuse from which we suffered can indeed have been criminal in its nature at the time. But do remember the cause of the problem can have been entirely unintended by those we now see as responsible, nevertheless.

Key here is how we framed in our minds at the time what happened and what it has caused to us since.

And a tip: if initially, the thought of trying to vocalize it all to the counselor is going to be just too much for you, then try writing out your whole story in your own time and giving or sending it to the counselor before the psychological counseling starts. This will help them and will have a cathartic impact on you too.

Good luck and do take on board that the emotional gain and release from the process is worth 100 times the pain of getting started. And if you have read this, knowing someone close to you is thinking about counseling, I hope sincerely that these thoughts will enable you to empathize with them more.