A Survivor’s experience of counselling

When I started CHOICES’ counselling, I found it extremely distressing, the first couple of months made me feel so awful mentally and physically, I almost gave up several times.

It was not only hard to try to begin to talk about my childhood, but even harder to a complete stranger whom I felt was distant and seemed unapproachable.

I find it incredibly hard to trust people and often put up a wall of resistance if I feel vulnerable. I was easily aroused and would respond with anger and hostility.

However, as the weeks went by, I began to relax and open up during my sessions. I realise now looking back, that it was the skill and professionalism of my counsellor that allowed me to do this. She gave me complete freedom to be who I was. She didn’t respond in a negative way to my anger or hostility, she accepted it, and by accepting the ways in which I expressed myself, she accepted me which I believe was the starting point for my trust.

The more I trusted her, the more I could relax. She never put any expectations on me, and allowed me to work at my own pace. She showed me respect in the way she spoke to me, was accurate in pin-pointing the things I needed to reflect on and think about. It was still hard and painful to talk about my past, but she made it easier by giving me coping strategies and reassuring me that it was normal to feel like I did and bout how it had affected me. To be listened to and believed, gave me the confidence to look at my life with a different approach and also the confidence to believe I could turn things around.

So, I began my counselling sessions with so much anger, mistrust, self-hate, unhappiness and self-doubt that I thought I could never be free of a past that had almost destroyed me. However, during the last two years, my life has become very different. I’m not saying that I’m completely healed, and I do still have times when things feel tough, but I can cope with them now rather than let them drag me down. For the first time I am enjoying relationships, I’m relaxed and approachable, my mind is calmer, and my anger has subsided. I use the strategies she gave me to cope. I no longer let myself believe I am to blame and I am growing into a genuinely confident woman.

I would recommend CHOICES to anyone who has come from an abusive past like I did, and encourage anyone to continue with the counselling no matter how hard it is – and it is so incredibly hard and painful at times – but the results have been incredible.