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By Claire Burke Draucker, Donna Martsolf

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Additional resources for Counselling Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse (Counselling in Practice series)

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Both these phases are addressed in this chapter. Preparing for exploration of childhood sexual abuse Clients who present with severe, pervasive, and persistent symptoms may need considerable work in this initial phase; clients with well-developed self-capacities and support systems may start exploratory work relatively soon after beginning counselling. Adequate coping skills and psychosocial resources are crucial to the success of abuse-focused treatment. The task of developing coping and self-care techniques should be approached ‘collaboratively and incrementally’ (Gold and Brown, 1997: 187).

You think I might have been sexually abused? Counsellor : Well, your discomfort and feeling that ‘something happened’ might suggest that. Jason: My mother was very good to me. She was a little odd, but that doesn’t mean … I sure don’t remember anything happening, but, well, I do remember my brothers making fun of how much she ‘loved’ me. Counsellor: I think it is important that we explore this further. Often, individuals forget sexual abuse because it is traumatic. Some of your symptoms, especially your problems relating to women, might be due to abuse by your mother.

The couple also had another son, Tom, aged 14, and a daughter, Sally, aged 12. All family members stated that Sally was never abused; they claimed she was always the ‘good girl’ who never did anything wrong and never needed any discipline. Following the family evaluation, Jean was referred for individual therapy as she had revealed some vague suicidal ideation during the course of the meeting. She claimed that she was ‘too tired’ to deal with any more family problems, especially the fighting between Jack and Bill, and wished she ‘never had to get out of bed again’.

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