Thursday, November 5, 2009

First Client With an Ab*se History - TW

I made it about 9 weeks into my job as a counselor dealing with about everything under the sun with my clients except abuse issues. Today I met with a sweet girl for the second time and she revealed that she was physically, emotionally, and verbally abused by her father for most of her life. She presented to me originally with signs of depression and trouble focusing on school work. After much discussion and probing as to why this is the first semester she's struggled with these issues in college, she shared that she's in her mental health rotation for her nursing degree and finds a lot of the topics hit really close to home. In other words, her classes this semester are constantly triggering the mess out of her. She's spent the past 4 years since she left home stuffing emotions and as many memories as she could. As many of you know, that works well for awhile, but eventually the walls come crashing down and you feel as though you whole world is falling apart.

On one hand, I'm glad to be the counselor she was assigned to. Sometimes I wonder if another counselor would have just treated her symptoms rather than trying to find the root of them to hopefully get rid of them or would have taken many more sessions to get to the real reason for her struggles. Also, I know a lot about how to walk through, handle, deal with memories at this point in my journey. I have a large knowledge base and repetoire to draw from to help her find what is best for her. One thing I will definitely have to keep in check is that what worked for me may not work for her, and I'll need to remember to keep my mind very open.

On the other hand, I'm scared to death to have this girl as a client. What if she shares a memory I can relate to too much, and I forget that I'm the therapist in the room? There is no need for her to know my struggles or history at this point. That's why I have my own therapist. What if I get triggered? What if I keep my stuff together while I'm in session with her, but then pay for it for the rest of the day/week internally like I did 4 years ago when I thought we could be a crisis counselor?

Somewhere inside there is this feeling and resolution that this is not too much for us to handle. We can take this case, offer support to this girl, and help her deal with her painful past. I really want to believe this feeling is accurate, but there's a small part of me that thinks it may be pride or an over-eagerness to prove just how far we've come in our own walk.

I let my supervisor know some of her issues hit close to home to me, so it may be an issue in the future, but I wanted to keep her on my caseload for now. He said he was fine with that and he trusts me to let him know if I get overwhelmed. I appreciate that because I haven't told him anything about my history or current therapy or diagnoses and I really don't want to.

I guess we'll just take things one session at a time and see how they go.

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