Refusing to validate client part of trauma therapy?
July 21, 2014 3:57 PM Subscribe
Is it common and recommended practice for a therapist to refuse to validate and affirm a trauma client?
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats to Health & Fitness (33 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I've been doing therapy with the same counsellor for several years - it's for complex trauma and I've experienced some trauma during the time of the therapy and, overall, I would say I have made a lot of progress. Whenever I have asked if something is normal, bad, abuse, assault, if it's really okay to be struggling with this stuff, etc., she won't answer me. She says it won't help me and that I'm the only person who can help myself. When I said that I thought what would help me is hearing some of this stuff, she said she didn't agree and refuses to even see what the effect would be.
When I ask my friends about their experience in trauma therapy, they say that they receive affirmations from their counsellors, that they are given the answers to these things, etc. So I find this quite confusing. Some of them said they had to be told stuff over and over till they could hold the truth and pain for themselves.
I believe my counsellor's point of view is probably that the counsellor should not impart their belief system and that the best way for the client to be able to protect herself from future abuse is to listen to their inner voice. Also, if you keep telling a client what to think, isn't that like the abuse? But what about a client with complex trauma who really sometimes has no baseline for these things? I guess the answer would be that it's the client's feelings that matter. And maybe asking these things is sort of like a pure O OCD thing where there's checking involved, in a way. But it's not like I'm asking the same thing every time. I don't even usually bring it up because I know she won't answer me. I actually understand the strategy, but it doesn't fit with my emotional needs a lot of the time, although maybe it would in the long run.
I just wondered if this is a common approach to trauma therapy or how I would know if this is not actually a recommended approach. If it is proven to help people, that would help me through this. (Oh, good grief, just in asking this question I start to wonder if this is just a new flavour of "Is it normal? But, seriously, I have never heard of this approach in therapy and, while it makes sense to me, it doesn't feel very good - growth doesn't always - and I just wondered if it is an effective approach. I haven't been able to validate this stuff for myself and my counsellor actually told me in the last session that she has no idea how to help me do that, which, honest, smashed me to bits.) When I step away from how awful that was and look at it rationally, I think her approach makes sense. But it doesn't feel very good right now and it doesn't line up with how my friends' therapy has gone and I don't really know how I would know if this is the right approach or not. I'm someone who likes to do stuff that is science-based, so if this is actually a "thing", that would help.