Dear Dr. Darcy, I've recently started seeing a therapist at a local clinic. It's definitely a big step for me, and I'm doing my best to be as honest as possible. I have already told her about several years of molestation that I dealt with at the hands of my former stepfather, but I'm absolutely terrified to tell her that he wasn't the only one who molested me as a child. I know that it's important that I get this off my chest, but it's something that I've never spoken of to anyone. I know that I have to talk about it, but the very thought makes me want to puke. I'm better at expressing myself through writing. Is it acceptable to tell her in a note, or am I just being weird?
You are not being weird. I’ve been encouraging clients to email me and (gasp) text me on an as-needed basis for almost a decade. And personally, there were times when I used to email my last shrink before sessions. Use whatever mode of communication works for you. Presuming you don’t have her email, go ahead and write her a note.
From a professional standpoint, it frustrates me that your therapist didn’t ask you for specifics on your history of abuse during your first session. The idea that it should be a client’s responsibility to disclose every detail of their life and to know which details are the most important to disclose is ludicrous and that presupposition sets clients up for situations like the one you’re in. This is so avoidable, THERAPISTS. Simply conduct a comprehensive psychosocial assessment covering every aspect of your client’s life, asking for exhaustive detail until each well runs dry. And yes, it will mean extending the length of that first session. My first session runs a minimum of 2 hours and often longer – I don’t stop until I have what I need. The way I see it, if a client springs any part of their history on me after that first session and I didn’t already know about it, than it means I made a mistake and I take that opportunity to amend my assessment form so that I’ll never miss that information again. OK, I’m not going to spend any more of your time trying to train people in my field, so back to you:
Clearly you’re going to have to pull more weight with your therapist than you would if you saw someone from my practice. That said, let me tell you exactly what will be the most beneficial information to express to her: Tell her what happened to you, let her know that you have difficulty speaking about it on your own and give her permission to bring it up in session. And congratulations on your strength. You are truly a survivor.
Writer’s Stats: Female, Lesbian.