I saw a private counselor for six sessions. It was only six sessions because my insurance offered them with no referral. When I go back to private counseling, I’ll need a referral.
What I Hoped to Accomplish:
I wanted someone to validate my experience. I wanted to become more informed about how to deal with the abuse. I also wanted some help in deciding if I should stay or leave the marriage. When I walked in the door the first time, I wanted to know how to leave my marriage. By the third visit, I didn’t know if I logistically could (or even wanted to) leave.
When the counselor thought I was leaving my husband, this guy was all about helping me.
When it became clear that I wasn’t able/willing to pack my bags and leave tomorrow, he started recommending family counseling. It was like “I” wasn’t worth helping. Almost as if he thought that If the abuse was “that bad” then I’d be running for the door. Therefore, maybe I was just in counseling to complain.
Those are my thoughts in hindsight, but I did notice a shift in his counseling methods during our 4th meeting. Or maybe he gets paid more for family counseling. Who knows?
But I also had a feeling that he had called Will to talk to him. I can’t prove it, and I didn’t ask, but the counselor’s course of therapy shifted so dramatically that the thought immediately came to mind.
One of the things we talked about in counseling was the possibility of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – his PTSD, not mine.
You see, every other time I’ve been to marriage counseling with my husband, Will hid his true face, his true words and actions, from the counselor. And the counselors all bought the act. At best, I bought a couple weeks of peace for myself at the house. At worst, I’m afraid I looked like the raving lunatic in contrast to his kind, loving, even tearful at times, fake front.
Definitely do go to counseling. If the first counselor doesn’t fit, call it quits, but move on to another counselor. Counselors keep their own personality even though they’re taught from the same book; I’m saying that it’s okay to NOT LIKE a therapist. Honor your feelings, and keep searching until you find a counselor that meshes with YOU.
*Make sure you look for counselors with experience in domestic abuse! The counselor should advertise that fact. It’s important for your counselor to understand YOUR situation fully, and she can’t understand your situation if she doesn’t know the type of person you’re up against.
HOWEVER – counseling for myself does not and cannot end abuse because I CANNOT CONTROL HOW ANY OTHER PERSON BEHAVES. You can learn better reactions to the abuse if you have the right counselor, but you still cannot make the abuser stop abusing.