Therapy to heal trauma: moving from survival to trust and fulfillment

(Permission by client granted; names and details changed.)

Sally, a married 46-year-old mother of 5, came into therapy overwhelmed with the demands of her life. She was in extreme emotional pain.

Sally was distraught with grief due to witnessing her youngest child, Cindy, have a stroke and require multiple brain surgeries shortly after her birth. Overwhelmed with 5 children, including a special needs child, a husband who is not able to provide a sufficient income, and compounded by her history of childhood sexual abuse and an unsupportive family, Sally did not have the tools to sustain herself through this very difficult chapter of her life. Consequently, she felt trapped. Angry and resentful, she frequently expressed her rage at her husband.

Sally wanted to trust life again, rather than feel continually panicked, depressed, and “not good enough”. She wanted to stop fighting with her husband, develop her talents (of which she has many) and make money at something she loved. She wanted a better relationship with her parents and siblings.

Over the past 4 years, I have helped Sally to voice and integrate the trauma of watching her baby daughter nearly die and then live with permanent damage. I have helped her to believe in herself, and feel that she deserves what she desires. I have helped her to gain awareness of how she “revolves” around her husband, rather than developing her own gifts and start changing this. We have processed her past sexual abuse so that she can be free of the shame that it caused her. And we have explored past family dynamics, helping her to resolve her relationships with her family.

Now Sally is often smiling, as she is enjoying much of her life. She no longer feels less than others or allows them to treat her in inappropriate ways. Because she trusts herself and her abilities, she is developing her own talents and creative projects, has earned a graduate degree and has found ways to make money. She has produced fundraisers to raise money for her daughter’s care. Her life now feels meaningful to her and her therapy now supports her growth rather than tends to unhealed wounds.

© 2008 - 2018 Jennifer Lehr, MFT