Counseling and abusive relationships
Cut-and-Paste post from tooday's Wolf's Daily Howl Greetings Readers and Posters ---- I said Thursday I'd talk more about injury, over the weekend. I'm going to shift sideways, slightly, and talk about Couples Counseling in the context of an intervention for an abusive relationship.  Couples counseling are trained to start from the presumption of an even playing field, which of course, is not the case, in an abusive relationship.  Few couples counselors are trained to recognize emotional abuse. Fewer counselors know how to intervene safely and effectively.  A slick manipulator will con and control most therapists.  When the target/victim in an abusive relationship brings a complaint, if the therapist misses the gravity and rolls over the complaint, the abuser gets much-coveted validation.  If the therapist misses the point, the target/victim may be abused a second time, in the session, by either the abuser or the therapist.  If the target/victim is admonished by the therapist, the abuser gets much-coveted validation BIG TIME.  Whether or not the therapist has admonished the target/victim, the target/victim is likely to be abused again after the session, as punishment for bringing up the point or complain to the therapist in the session. This punishment can range from the silent treatment to rage to mortal threat.  Knowledge is power. Inherent in the way therapy works in session, whatever the target/victim reveals within the session becomes a tool for the abuser to use against the target/victim later, at home. This can be any piece of information, small or significant.  The abuser will pick up whatever issue the therapist focuses on that the target/victim may need to work on, as evidence that the target/victim is the problem. Later at home, this will be hammered upon endlessly, and will become the subsequent point of all sessions.  The abuser will learn the terminology and buzz words of therapy. The abuser will then use them constantly to make his/her point and position against the target/abuser.  If the therapist urges the abuser to go home and express his/her emotions more openly, the target/victim is likely to experience an increased torrent of abuse around the abuser’s complaints.  The abuser is likely to latch onto a small issue brought up in therapy, change him/herself for the better, in relation to that small issue, and then point to that small change as evidence of good faith and more to come. The small change for the better was, in fact, an insincere token change.  The abuser will forever-after point to his/her participation in couples therapy, even if just once, as proof that s/he cares about the relationship and has done what s/he could to save it. S/he may even say things like: I've been to therapy and I'm fixed. These are my reservations about couples counseling as an intervention in the context of an abusive relationship. Have I left any out? i have to agree totally with your post llene - i did some couples counselling with my ex and let the ex in on my individual couselling for past abuse including child abuse - yes i got the token changes but it just gave him better insight how to screw with my head in the end - dont do any therapy with any emotional or covert type of abuser - it just adds fuel to the fire - well posted and thanks jd What a great post! This is exactly my experience, or just about. My stbx loves going to counselling. The counsellor he likes to see is predominantly a marriage therapist. Over the years, she has validated him. Encouraged him to express his feelings. She has tried to teach him how to empathize (no interest in that of course). The result: He has used his knowledge to run my head around in circles, and yes, he can justify his behaviour like a pro. When he came back the last time, I had asked that he go to changing ways (a counselling service similar to Lundy Bancroft's approach). He went once, told me he wasn't like "those men", then begged me to agree for him to continue seeing the marriage counsellor. I agreed to it, because at the time, I mistakenly thought, any counselling was good counselling ... WRONG!!! Oh well, we live and learn. This fits my ex to a T, even to this very day. And I have had "counselors" completely take my ex's side and tell me I was cold and rigid (exactly what my ex was to me). My ex would change 1 thing for 1 freaking day and then revert back to his old self and tell me he had changed but it wasn't enough for me - that nothing was ever enough for me - that I was never satisfied. You know what? He was right. One day of being non abusive wasn't nearly enough. He was so good at what he did that over the years he managed to convince 4 different counselors that he didn't have problems w/alcohol! During what turned out to be the last attempt at joint counseling, I asked him if he would refrain from drinking while we were in counseling. I did this in the presence of the counselor. He said he wouldn't because he would feel too guilty if he had a "slip." So I said there is no point in doing therapy with alcohol and looked at the counselor who said NOTHING. That's when I said "I'M DONE." and I walked out. Boy, I could relate to what you wrote. Thanks for your reply. How're you doing now? Emotional abusers seem able to con clinically trained practicioners as if the counselors/therapists (even PhD's) had gotten their certification from the Five and Ten. My then-partner and I went to no less then THREE couples counselors. Each one was worse than the one before. Since then, I haven't found anyone in an abusive relationship for whom couples counseling brought positive change. (I'm waiting to hear of anyone with a different outcome.) That's why I've come to the conclusion that any counseling done in the context of abuse, needs to be individual.