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    • #66019

      Hi there
      I’m interested in hearing your experiences with counseling/therapy and how it may be helpful.
      Since getting out of an abusive relationship, I’ve felt in desperate need of talking therapy, to talk through everything that happened and how I’m feeling about it. My ex was psychologically and emotionally abusive, manipulative and threatening, terrifyingly so, towards the end. However I wasn’t in the relationship for very long, we didn’t have children or a home together, mutual friends or anything like that so I was able to make a very clean break. I am aware in this sense that my experience is vastly different from some other women. I’m wary then of joining a counselling waiting list specifically for domestic abuse survivors when the place could go to a woman with much more need than me. I don’t know if that sounds silly.
      As I suffer from anxiety, I am going through a course of CBT through the NHS. Having suffered abuse (emotional, physical, sexual) at the hands of both my parents, I disclosed this to my therapist at the beginning, when she asked about previous trauma. However, we have never talked about any of this stuff, and when I have brought it up, including intrusive thoughts and memories resulting from my relationship with my ex, it feels swept to the side. I find this really hard. At a recent session, I talked about not being able to sleep, having nightmares and replaying things my ex had said to me. Her response was trivial to the point of absurdity; get up and do a mindful colouring book, listen to a mindfulness app, have a mantra by my bed to repeat (“it’ll be ok,” etc). I know these things can be helpful but this is not what I need right now. I feel I need to talk about what happened, make sense of it, and heal from it.
      Does anyone have similar, or more useful experiences with CBT? How to make the most out of it?
      Or are there other therapies I should be looking at, that might be more useful?
      Baring in mind I cannot afford to pay for therapy so it would have to be free, I don’t mind joining a long waiting list.
      Just looking for shared experiences and advice I suppose. Feeling at a bit of a loss.
      Thank you in advance.

    • #66023
      Twisted Sister

      Dear greenturtle

      A really useful post to read and I hope you have found it helpful to write? It sounds to me that it’s the validation that’s missing. I think this is the biggest downfall with cbt, a vital part of healing (ime) is the validation of your experiences, its why its so important to hear that you are believed (a recent thread on here discusses).

      It’s very hurtful/damaging to someone to feel dismissed in this way, to completely sidestep all the emotions which then confuses andcan have you feeling ‘oh,I was just doing it wrong all his time!?’

      CBT has a place, but NHS push it as a cure-al I think. Trauma focussed therapy with dv specialism is the way I’d go, with someone that fits suffiently well with me.

      Posting here really helps with validatin your experiences, so do keep posting if you can.

      If you notice things, reactions, thoughts, in response to triggers breaking the pattern set up an replacing it with another can be a great fx, but only when you are ready for that.

      Did you do freedom programme, read Lundy Bancroft, Pat craven?

      Warmest wishes ts
      Warmest wishes ts

    • #66024
      Twisted Sister

      Over time, and with good balance of positive safe experiences the brain does a lot of adjusting on its own,what upsets me so much is a blind application of techniques without noticing /acknowledging or pausing for breath at the clients reaction to that.

    • #66025

      I have experience of CBT over the years. At its most useless it can feel as though it’s teaching the grindingly obvious to the uninitiated. It can give us tools for reality checking which can be helpful. Certainly not all the time.

      I found CBT absolutely useless with anything to do with abuse. I can well imagine a CBT practitioner casting your concerns aside and wanting to deal only with the here and now. Are you in contact with Women’s Aid or Rape Crisis or Victim Support? Please make contact with them so you can start getting the appropriate help. You may find CBT helpful at some point in your recovery. It sounds as though you need to be listened to and process your thoughts before being taught the blindingly obvious (which does help in some situations)

    • #66031

      Hi, thank you so much for your responses
      Twisted Sister, thank you for the reminder that positive experiences can and will help, I think I am already seeing the benefits of this and it is great to be reminded that my mind and thinking patterns won’t always be this way.
      Thank you for the reading suggestions, that’s very helpful. I read a lot of Patricia Evans when I first came out of the relationship, it was a huge eye opener and I learned a great deal. I hadn’t even realised that so many of the things I had experienced were abusive. So certainly reading and learning more still help 🙂
      Maddog, yes, without wanting to sound negative I am finding it useless too, not that it hasn’t given me some coping strategies, but I went into it thinking that it would change the way I think and feel about the effects of abuse in my life so far- it hasn’t.
      The worst thing that it is doing is confirming this horrible secrecy that I’ve been living with for so long- having not disclosed to that many people in my life, I sometimes feel like I struggle to acknowledge it myself, let alone talk about it.
      Women’s aid recommended a counselling service in my area but it is so full that the waiting list is closed. I have also been referred to Rasasc (rape crisis), I just need to pluck up the courage to call them back. Having been disappointed with my experience of CBT thus far, I’m conscious of pinning my hopes too much on something else. Although it sounds as if this may be a more promising support for me.
      Has anyone on here received counselling through rape crisis and found it useful?

    • #66036

      I started counselling with Rape Crisis and they were brilliant. I had to stop because my ex was still in the same house and I am now back on the waiting list to start when the therapist I was with before is free again. Victim support has been fantastic.

    • #66040

      That’s great, I’m glad you had such a positive experience. That makes me feel hopeful. I’m going to give them a call back tomorrow.
      How long did you have to wait on the waiting list, if you don’t mind me asking? And what are the main differences on the type of therapy it is, from CBT?

    • #66050

      You’ve experienced trauma in your developing years, and now further abuse, meaning this complex. Your experience is frustrating to read, as what you are saying it feels like the ‘right time’ for you to work through something. The therapist is not meeting your need here. What you need to be mindful of is that those questionaires you fill in every week are ‘apparantly’ measuring your recovery, the therapist is under pressure to try and make sure your scores improve and you move into recovery and thus the NHS is paid for the sessions. People often feel ok while in CBT because they feel supported, but as soon as it ends the difficulties return because they have not processed and resolved what is needed. If you do see a CBTherapist, it needs to be specifically for trauma / a CBT therapist working in this field.

      6 -10 sessions of CBT is not going to be anywhere near enough for you to build a relationship and work through what you need to do, you need someone who can offer you long term support, therapy that is not time limited. Ideally you need a counsellor that has experience of working with domestic and childhood abuse or a psychotherapist that works relationally and has experience of working with trauma.

      My advice would be to tell the CBT therapist exactly how you are feeling, before you go any further, as she will have to respond and refer you appropriately, tell her that you really need to work through the trauma which this process seems to be ignoring. Don’t be swayed into sayng you feel better and thus giving improvement in your questionaire scores.

    • #66054

      Fizzylem, thank you so much for your response. Overwhelmed with the kind and thoughtful responses I get when I post here.
      You’re right about the scores, mine have stayed more or less the same, and I fear that I’m becoming complacent, going through the motions a bit. We’ve done things like behaviour experiments, which have gone successfully according to the therapist but for me I’ve gained nothing. It does very much seem to be about ticking boxes, ‘performing’ better.
      Psychotherapy sounds like it might be better, as it does seem to go deeper, do you have experience of this? I’m not sure if it’s available through the NHS or how you get a referral? I’m not able to afford private.
      I think you’re right about telling my therapist how I’m feeling. But I’m not sure how. It almost seems counter productive now (the therapy I’m receiving), I feel like it’s intensifying my anxiety and low mood precisely because it’s not meeting my needs.

    • #66055

      I’m sorry if it sounds like I’m being dismissive of CBT, I know it can be very helpful. I went into it with a really positive, open mind but it is just not what I expected. After many years of trying to pluck up the courage to seek therapy, it feels like such a huge blow

    • #66058

      My first experience of CBT was like teaching granny to suck eggs. It was terrible. When you are still trapped in the web of trauma, telling you to go colour in some pictures isn’t going to touch the sides. CBT can be helpful in cases of mild to moderate depression. It isn’t going to work when things have been so wrong for such a long time. If you don’t feel up to speaking directly to your therapist, can you go back to your gp and tell them it really is wrong for you at the moment. I was under the care of a very good clinical psychologist for years who probably saved my life.

    • #66060

      Wow, you have put it so well, maddog. I hadn’t thought about going to the GP (I self referred for CBT), bit nerve wracking but perhaps I’ll try that, not sure I’d know where to begin or what to say though

    • #66066

      Make this the therapists problem to resolve, if you can’t afford private then you need to stay the course with the NHS. They can’t very well discharge you when you say no I’m not ready I need help with the trauma, wouldn’t be ethical. There is clinical psychology and psychotherapy available but these services have lost a lot of funding in recent years and thus the people they take on are few, your therapist can and should make the referral for you. There are other options as well though depending on where you live, in (detail removed by moderator) for example they have a centre for trauma. It is part of the therapist’s role to find a suitable service to sign post you to – dont tell you this though do they lol. Sadly because it is now a payment for results service, they are keen to get as many in and out as possible with an improvement in the scores, they actually get paid less if the person doesn’t show any recovery.

      Charities also offer counselling, have you ever been in touch with any of the womens ones in your area or those for domestic violence? They should put you in touch with counselling.

      Current research in trauma shows that the therapists approach, their training is not that important, as long as it is a relational approach, meaning you develop a good working alliance and the therapist works with his or her own experience of you while in the relationship with you. It is the number of hours the therapist has aquired working with trauma that is important, their experience. Sadly, most folk end up having to pay for this, but it does turn out to be money well spent, there’s nothing more important that inner peace after all. You’re putting your head in someone elses hands, so its important to find the right person for the job, will save you in many ways in the long term.

      The NHS CBT is for mild to moderate depression and anxiety, but some areas have started to recognise that trauma departments are needed and offer CBT for trauma and EMDR.

      Mindfulness classes or meditation classes would also likely be helpful.

      I worked through the trauma in pivate psychotherapy, took about a year, I also experienced developmental trauma in childhood. I have to say having someone I felt knew their stuff really helped me get through the process, I felt completely held and I always took valuable learning away every week. I made meaningful links and thus lasting changes, it is the self awareness that is the most helpful, this is what arms us and heals us. The NHS CBT 6 sessions is more a coaching approach hey.

      I started off paying him 45, but when I lost my job he took 20, I also managed to get my employer to pay for 12 sessions through HR and their EAP program. Most therapists, or at least the ones in it for the right reasons, will take people on lower incomes because they are fully aware of how difficult it is to access help that is much needed. They have a couple of slots a week for this. You could also go twice a month instead of weekly maybe.

      Its not easy finding the right support for sure, everyone finds this, it takes time and it comes from a number of places, but any time spent taking your time to do this is time well spent and will serve you well.

    • #66075

      Hello, my experience of cbt, was that I disclosed in an appointment abuse that had just happened e.g. he put his hand over my mouth and etc….- I wrote exactly on a model situation sheet, and in response I was asked did I do the breathing techniques she had taught me previously, I said no because his hand was over my mouth but I had already just explained that, she didn’t know how to respond to the disclosure and it meant I disclosed but didn’t get the response that I should have, which I thought was pretty bad but I was suffering with mental health problems and acute symptoms of ptsd so I’m pretty disappointed that if you are ill but you disclose because you know its what to do, you don’t get the right response… I don’t know if cbt methods might be something I can do later on? what I find is just because a counsellor maybe a nice person doesn’t mean they are good at their job, or good with people who have been through abuse/DV…I then went onto trauma therapy and I couldn’t really connect with the psychologist either, and ended up feeling like id opened up but was left hanging, now I’m waiting on trauma referral for years, I’m pretty frustrated with professionals lack of knowledge, it has been unbelievable

    • #66082

      The thing about CBT is that it is designed to help with how you think and feel about things as they happen, and things that are going to happen in the future. It isn’t designed to help with things that happened in the past. I have found it kind of useful in dealing with my disability. I learned to recognise when I was catastrophising and stop it, which was really useful, as I used to get so anxious about the consequences of having a relapse when I had planned things in advance that I inevitably had a relapse.

      What it won’t do is unpick why you believe the things you do. The theory is that you can change your thought patterns without analyzing why they happen. My experience post abuse was that wasn’t that helpful. I needed to understand why I had accepted my abusers world view, why I felt the way I felt, in order to be able to move on. I went to some drop in sessions with women’s aid which were helpful just because my experiences were truly believed and understood. I also did some talking therapy, but didn’t gel with the counselor and was finding it exhausting so I gave it up. I couldn’t stand being asked how things made me feel all the time. My counselor didn’t have any training in domestic abuse though.

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