Survivors of sexual abuse, often times, hide in darkness. For years, survivors suffer afraid that if they tell, they will be accused of lying, face rejection, and worse, judgment.
We at Bright Hope want survivors to know that there is hope, and just by reading this post, salute and applaud the courage that is being taken to just read this blog. For starters, I am going to give a synopsis of treatment options available to treat and help survivors heal.
1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy - Trauma Focused - (CBT-TF)
This form of therapy is designed to confront irrational thinking about what happened, and to provide education so the survivor knows how to better cope with the negative feelings. I am not going to lie, this technique is my least favorite by far. Research shows that it works just as well as the other two methods that Ia m going to describe. However, in my almost 17 years of experience, I am not a believer.
2. Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing - (EMDR)
EMDR is the treatment of choice for veterans coming home from conflict. It's premise is that the brain is set up in two parts - Emotional and Logical. When trauma occurs, the emotional side of the brain basically freaks out and cause a freezing effect very similar to when a computer freezes up. The result of this is the all too familiar feelings of panic, fear, nightmares, etc. What EMDR does is connect both sides of the brain by either tapping back and forth on both sides of the body, holding vibrating paddles, and using the eyes to look right and left. When this is happening, the survivor starts to discuss or think about what happened. The result is that the trauma starts to be processed by the logical side of the brain. The results are usually nothing short of astonishing. Now, I must warn of the downside to this technique. It is exceptionally difficult for the survivor to go through. It is a controlled flashback, and for healing to occur, the trauma will have to be relived.
No, I will not make anyone bark like a dog. Clinical hypnosis uses the subconscious mind to work through the sexual abuse with little emotional pain. It is slower than EMDR, but is still significantly faster than CBT-TF. To fully explain what hypnosis is and does would require several more blog posts. Fortunately, I already discussed this great detail in earlier posts. In the beginning, until the brain takes hold and eliminates the trauma completely, relapses may occur. They are not, however, as strong or as bad as before. This is my personal favorite all around because it is holistic and can be applied to almost any situation in life. Plus, it is not as painful as EMDR. Rule of thumb that I tell my patients is that however long EMDR takes to provide relief, it will usually double that with hypnosis.
4. Exposure Therapy
It is EMDR with out the paddles, eye movement, and tapping. Faster than CBT-TF, and more painful than EMDR because it is longer. Basically, the survivor recounts their story until they no longer have anxiety about it.
All in all, please know that help is available. Reality is that different people prefer different things. My usual course of treatment is a 1, 2, punch with both hypnosis and EMDR because hypnosis strengthens the person before undergoing the difficult task of EMDR. Again, whatever method is used, please do not give up, and seek help.
Thoughts of rambling therapists.