Wednesday, April 30, 2014

My Guest Post on Recovering Grace

I've really enjoyed this opportunity to share with you what I've learned since specializing in sexual assault recovery. It's a subgroup of clients that I've come to care about a great deal. 

To wrap up this series, which has been in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, I wanted to share with you a guest post I wrote for the Recovering Grace blog.

Recovering Grace is an organization devoted to supporting those who have been impacted by the ministry of Bill Gothard, a fundamentalist teacher and founder of the Institute in Basic Life Principles and the Advanced Training Institute. His teachings have been popular among conservative or "fundamentalist" societies and homeschool groups, most notably the Duggar family of TLC's 19 Kids And Counting

Through this blog, former employees and students of Gothard's group have come forward to share their stories of sexual abuse and harassment under Gothard's leadership, some perpetuated by Bill himself and some by sanction of his authority or teachings. Hallmarks of his training are below, but it should be noted that not everyone who has been involved with the Institutes or those who have followed his teachings (such as the Duggars) believe in every principle put forth by him. Major beliefs usually include:

  • A desire to allow God to control fertility, meaning no birth control including vasectomies and tubal ligations. 
  • Strict standards of modesty in dress and behavior, such as no kissing or handholding before marriage, skirts for women, no sleeveless tops, no shorts for guys, etc.
  • A distaste for worldly things such as "rock" music (including Christian rock), drinking, dancing, and dating.
  • Conservative standards on television, movies and internet use. 
  • Obedience and conformity to authority and conservative standards.
  • Homeschooling, avoiding college, and avoiding debt.

Because I was homeschooled, I was raised on the fringe of this movement all my life. I was extremely fortunate to be raised by parents who were not involved in this movement and obviously supported my going to college, dating and marrying a man of my choosing, and pursuing my career as a counselor. But I had several friends who were involved in this group, and some of them still bear the scars of it today, such as shame, guilt, rejection of religion, depression, anxiety, and family strife. 

This is an article more personal than perhaps any I've written, because I share briefly but honestly about a my experience on the fringe of a legalistic group. 

I hope it will give you a window into a world that you may have never experienced before, and expand your awareness of a quiet but wounded group of people courageously seeking healing. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Goals of Sexual Trauma Therapy: When Are You "Done?"

Because nothing you can do in therapy can erase the trauma, it can be hard to know when you have helped your client to the point where they are ready to move forward on their own. This video will share with you several major milestones that tell you that your sexual trauma client is moving to a place of healing.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

To Tell The Story Or Not To Tell The Story?

When I first started working with clients who had been through sexual abuse and assault, I could see the pain in their eyes when they recounted what they had been through. 

In therapy for sexual assault, the beginning counselor can wonder whether or not to encourage the client to tell their story, causing the client distress. But is it important enough that the therapist should encourage the client to talk about it even when they don't want to? What should the therapist be careful about when they ask the client about the situations they've overcome in their past? This short video helps the therapist know what precautions to take when recalling an assault with a client and ultimately how important it is to the client's recovery. 

*Note: The advice in this video is intended only for licensed therapists trained in working with clients who have experienced sexual abuse or assault. Nothing in this video should be considered a substitute for professional counseling, training, or supervision.*

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Power of Language in Sexual Trauma Therapy: Words That Oppress, Words That Heal [Video Post]

The childhood rhyme was wrong. Words can often hurt you.

How much do your words matter in sexual trauma therapy? If you are a counselor, your word choice can radically change the emotions of your client - for better or for worse. Old-fashioned words like "rape" can throw back a client to feeling like it matters what she's wearing and where she was when an assault happened. Naming a client as a survivor, on the other hand, can uplift and empower a client who is feeling powerless. 

Next week, come back for the third installment of our special therapist competency series: To Tell The Story or Not To Tell The Story? The Question of Uncovering The Abuse Story in Sexual Trauma Therapy.

What do you think of the special focus series on sexual trauma? Are there any specialties you'd like to see covered in the future? Let me know!

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Your Sexual Trauma Client: The Reality Of Their Experience.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Did you know that every 2 minutes, someone is sexually assaulted? That one in 6 women have experienced an attempted or completed rape? That means a great majority of the clients we see in our offices will be survivors of sexual assault or abuse. It is our duty to educate ourselves as to the reality of their experiences. This month, we will be focusing on increasing our therapist competency in the area of sexual trauma recovery. 

This video starts out the month by explaining the reality of what the sexual assault and abuse survivor experiences when they are considering reporting sexual misconduct to law enforcement, seeking medical help, or pursuing legal action against a perpetrator.

You think you know what the reality is? You have no idea. Watch the video to find out. 

Next week, we will discuss Words That Oppress, Words That Heal: The Power of Language in Sexual Trauma Therapy.

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Profit from each purchase goes to support counseling, research and advocacy. Show your clients you believe in their stories while while contributing to survivor healing!