Fighting the Pain of Sexual Abuse Through Counseling

Posted on September 28, 2017 in Uncategorized

As a young child, I was sexually abused by a family friend. This thoughtless, abusive act has forever changed my life. It has not just changed who I am but how I see things, how I view myself, how I make decisions and how I live my life. As a survivor of sexual abuse, I have struggled with self-esteem and anger issues, trusting others, accepting help from others, self-injurious behavior and a host of other issues which I can directly connect with my abuse as a child.

For many years, I have attended therapy and have cycled through a number of different therapists and counselors. It is not that each of my counselors or therapists was not good as what they did. On the contrary, each professional with whom I worked in regard to my experience played an important role in my healing process. Each one, in some way, affected me positively in my continuing recovery.

My journey through counseling is not yet over, in fact, it is just at its beginning stages. For many years, I have attended individual counseling. In individual counseling, I have learned to discuss my fears and other emotions, understand where my underlying issues originate and how to control my emotions and avoid potentially dangerous situations. I have also attended group counseling which offers a dynamic like no other I have found in any of my other therapy. In group therapy, I associated with and found friends in other survivors and created a kinship that cannot be created in any other way than to have experienced similar situations. I learned new coping skills from other survivors and gained a sense of empowerment from the strong group of survivors with whom I attended the group.

As I have, you too can heal from your sexual abuse experience(s) with the assistance of sexual abuse counseling. Through counseling, you will learn new ways to deal with your experience and learn to love yourself for who you are. You will learn that the abuse was not and is not your fault because it is not. You can gain a healthier self-esteem and self-understanding. If you have been sexually abused, counseling can help!

Sex Counseling For Christian Couples

Posted on September 26, 2017 in Uncategorized

There are several idealistic ways for a Christian couple to seek sexual counseling. For the couple that feels they benefit from reading, there are many books authored by Christian doctors and writers that focus more on intellectual and spiritual content rather than visual. Many books on sexual counseling and other tips can be found at any major chain of bookstore such as Borders or Barnes and Noble but don’t always carry titles found in the more segregated Christian only stores such as Family Christian Stores. Materials can also be purchased online at shops such as Amazon.com and eBay.com.

Great books to read:

  • Intended for Pleasure – Written by Ed Wheat M.D. and Gaye Wheat. An easy to read reference book with many facts and statistics on sexual health and getting the most out of your sexual relationship as a Christian couple. In the third edition, Intended for Pleasure combines biblical teaching on love and marriage with the latest medical information on sex and sexuality.
  • Sacred Sex – Written by Tim Alan Gardner and Scott M. Stanley. Is a great balance of scriptural truth, challenge to change, practical wisdom, reverence of the Marriage Bed, and God-honoring fun. Christian couples should buy it and read it together to celebrate oneness the way God intended.

Another great way to receive sexual counseling is to speak with a medical professional, face to face. This allows a doctor who has studied both Scripture and sexuality to gear key points directly aimed at a couple’s concerns. You can find a therapist, psychologist, or another form of medical doctor at counseling centers. Many of the larger churches offer a list of sorts where their members can find day to day businesses and professionals that have a strong Christian affiliation. One might find a lawyer, doctor, even a psychiatrist who adheres to Scripture in their career. Search online in your city for counseling centers that are of Christian mind.

However, not all professionals have a degree. Some of the happiest Christian couples experience a healthy sexual relationship the way God intended. Sometimes talking with an older Christian couple in a mentoring environment who has gone through the same struggles as you have can do wonders. They may have had the same questions as you and were able to overcome the same obstacles. They also may be able to guide you in the direction of more in depth help if needed.

The second most important person to ask for guidance and advice is your preacher or pastor. Many spiritual leaders are often mediators to several members of their community and church. Sometimes sitting down with someone and talking things through is the best therapy and medicine.

Of course the most important person to talk to is God. Prayer can do powerful things and a couple who prays together stays together can overcome the most drastic obstacles.

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Dealing With Sex and Power in Feminist Counselling

Posted on September 23, 2017 in Uncategorized

Like all counsellors, feminist counsellors address the problems and confusions that are at the heart of the client’s current difficulties. However, feminist counsellors seek to help clients grow in awareness as to how their lives have been affected and curtailed by living in a male-dominated society. Hence, many issues that are raised by a client are explored, not only in terms of the woman’s personal experiences and relationships, but also in terms of gender stereotypes and power-relations.

From how women feel about their bodies, to how women’s sexuality is exploited, abused and trivialised, feminist counsellors explore these issues with clients to give them a greater picture of how their own problems, fears, and sense of inferiority are closely entwined with patriarchal values and social constructions.

Sex and Power

Unlike mainstream counsellors, feminist counsellors explore the ways in which sex and relationships are connected to politics. In terms of sex-roles and stereotypes, both socialised sex and politics are both inextricably bound up with power. For millennia, women have been exploited in patriarchal cultures (Vesel-Mander and Kent-Rush: 1974, 22). Worell and Remer (1992, 92) view feminist therapy as focusing on helping clients identify the influence of social rules, sex-role socialisation, institutionalised sexism and other kinds of oppression on personal experience. Feminists of all backgrounds converge on the fact that every area of a woman’s life is affected by gender inequalities. Women’s bodies and their sexuality is the arena where patriarchal control and violence is most commonly displayed.

Women are faced with many opposing images and views of female sexuality. For centuries women were categorised as virgin, mother or whore. Within all major religions female sexuality is viewed as a temptation, leading innocent males towards sin. Patriarchal laws devised ways of controlling female sexuality, making it permissible only within the sanctity of marriage. In Victorian England a woman who enjoyed or pursued sexual pleasure was labelled mentally sick, was often committed to an asylum or was deemed to be in need of a gruesome operation to make her sexually passive, so that she could no longer enjoy sex. Since the 1960s a woman is often deemed to be liberated only if she is having sex with many partners (Worell and Remer (1992).

Feminist counsellors explore these deeply powerful and contradictory stereotypes with clients, teasing out how they have affected women’s choices, and the expression of their needs and feelings. According to Vesel-Mander and Kent-Rush (1974, 51), feminism seeks to bring out the validity of the woman’s own experience, and to challenge society’s artificial norms about what women should and should not want sexually.

Sexual Abuse and Domestic Violence

Many feminist counsellors specialise in working with women who have suffered sexual abuse or violence. Sexual abuse, rape, domestic violence and pornography are crimes that are viewed by feminists as ways in which the patriarchy keeps women frightened and controlled. Feminist counsellors will not only explore the woman’s personal experience of abuse but will also look at society’s values and stereotypes that create male abusers and female victims.
Women who have been raped may agonise over what it was in their dress or behaviour that precipitated the attack, a question that would be considered ludicrous in any other violent crime. Feminist counsellors work with their clients to help them realise that the crime was in no way instigated by them. Men are overwhelmingly the perpetrators of violence and sexual abuse against women. This violence is not about isolated incidents, but occurs in many contexts, from private and familial, to public (Walsh and Liddy: 1989).

MacLeod (1990, 1) is highly critical of the counselling which women who have suffered domestic violence receive from mainstream counsellors. She states that “mainstream treatment approaches used in social service or health agencies and by private medical, psychological and social work practitioners have been attacked for blaming the woman.” She goes on to add that mainstream counsellors often look for weaknesses or pathologies within the woman to explain the violence, minimising or ignoring the responsibility of the violent partner for his actions, and overlooking the social values and institutions that condone violence against women and children. Criticism of mainstream counselling is also made by MacLeod (1990) for its failure to understand the seriousness of the violence and the continued danger many abused women experience, even after separating or divorcing from a violent partner. Also, mainstream counselling often emphasises treatment based on keeping the family together, while failing to recognise the power imbalance that exists between men and women which reinforces abuse (MacLeod, 1990, 2).

Body Image

The way in which women are portrayed in advertising and pornography is also addressed by feminist counsellors. Women are groomed by culture to view themselves as objects, which must match a particular shape and style to fit in with perceived notions of beauty and desire. Despite all the political advances which feminists have achieved over many decades, women still learn to judge their worth by their physical appearance, bodies, faces, hair and clothes (Wolfe: 1991).

Feminist counsellors view such issues as low self-esteem due to poor body image, the use of cosmetic surgery for non-medical treatment, and such problems as bulimia and anorexia nervosa as being largely the result of patriarchal conditioning and exploitation. Psychotherapist, Susie Orbach (1993) explores the reasons why many women become anorexic. In the United States alone, one hundred and fifty thousand women die from the effects of anorexia. For Orbach (1993) the psychological roots of this form of self-inflicted violence are embedded when the woman initially tries to transform her body into that which will be acceptable to society. She surpasses society’s demands that a woman be thin and desirable and instead goes on a form of hunger strike, trying to control even her most basic need for food as she has been brought-up to deny her emotional needs.

Feminist counsellors seek to help a woman begin to nurture herself, to learn to love and respect her own body. This helps the woman to grow in self-esteem, and to regain her sense of internal power. Vesel-Mander and Kent-Rush (1974, 56) recommend that feminist counsellors use body therapies because a great deal of women’s oppression is biological. As a result of centuries of negative programming, women need to do a great deal of healing on their bodies and body images.

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