Abusers capitalize on their victims’ vulnerability. Without the power to escape or fight back, children are helpless in an unsafe world. They can’t cry, look frightened or voice any emotional needs for fear of punishment. They instinctively develop strategies to avoid showing emotion because they have no other choice than appearing “fine.”
These strategies are adaptive in a threatening unsafe environment, but they become impediments in treatment. Years later, traumatized clients come for ‘help,’ but their phobias of emotion and vulnerability pose obstacles for the therapist. Although most survivors of abuse can intellectually acknowledge that they were traumatized, talking about the events is overwhelming and frightening. Feeling emotion or acknowledging the hurt they experienced as little children automatically leads to shutting down or intellectualizing. We are trying to help them process the memories and emotions, only to get blocked by clients’ inability to ‘go there.’
Successfully working with intellectualized and avoidant clients begins with the therapist facing the degree to which our interest in vulnerability stimulates fear. Understanding the role of avoidance in survival and acknowledging their reluctance to feel overwhelmed is also key. The perpetrator was only interested in their vulnerability. Therapists need to be equally interested in how they survived. Fortunately, modern trauma treatment affords us many ways to help survivors, including those who cannot ‘go there.’ In this webinar, Janina Fisher will share strategies for developing strong therapeutic alliances with intellectualized and avoidant clients, including how we manage our own need for them to be vulnerable.
If you want to sign up for this course and missed the registration deadline, please don’t worry. You can still contact Gerri Baum at email@example.com or call 410-409-7061 to inquire about joining the class. We will do our best to accommodate you. We appreciate your interest in our workshops and look forward to seeing you soon!