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May Quandary: Is It Ever Okay to Break Confidentially If I Know My Client Is Dating an Abuser?

Five Clinicians Give Their Take

Chris Lyford

By Chris Lyford - Diedre was widowed about three years ago, but was excited to tell her therapist about a man she's started dating. She's very happy. As her therapist heard more, he realized this is the same man another client used to date, who slowly became controlling and abusive. Should Diedre's therapist share this info? Five therapists weigh in.

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The Art of Not Knowing the Answer

A Trauma Specialist Shares Her Most Therapeutic Moment

Mary Jo Barrett

By Mary Jo Barrett - My very first case was the Byford family. The father was serving a six-month sentence for domestic abuse. During a home visit several months into treatment, the daughter, Laura, announced, “Dad is getting out of jail today! And he’s coming here!” My mind went blank. Her mother looked at me. Suddenly, it was as though I passed whatever strength I had to her, and she then passed it back to me.

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Stop Treating Eating Disorders Like Just Bad Habits

How to Empower Clients to Heal with Parts Work

Lisa Ferentz

By Lisa Ferentz - It's unproductive to deal with an eating disorder as though it were simply a bad habit. Therapy has the greatest impact when I step away from the temptation to get into a power struggle and empower clients to do a large part of the healing work themselves.

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When Victims Victimize Others

Using Empathy to Help Abusers Make Amends

Noel Larson

By Noel Larson - Throughout my career, countless people have asked me how I can work with clients who’ve committed sexual abuse, murdered their wives, or broken their children’s bones and spirits. My answer has always been the same: all I have to do is remember and feel in my heart the traumatized children my clients once were.

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Selling Clients on Consent

...And Creating a Space for Men in the Age of #MeToo

Lauren Dockett

By Lauren Dockett - Privately shaken and sometimes concerned about their own complicity, many men are now worried about how the #MeToo movement will deepen the gulf of understanding between them and the women in their lives. But much of the secrecy and shame around sex for men and women could be mitigated by embracing a practice of consent.

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Working with Abusers and Their Families

Can Good and Evil Can Exist in the Same Person?

Mary Jo Barrett

By Mary Jo Barrett - Families suffering from trauma, abuse, and neglect can begin to make the crucial distinction between a chronic state of overarousal and vigilance and "reality" only once a sense of physical and psychological safety has been established. Only after this first stage is it even possible to focus on changing dysfunctional mindsets, counterproductive behavior, and destructive family patterns.

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My Greatest Clinical Learning Experience

Finding the "Genuine Hero" in Even Your Most Troubled Clients

Lisa Ferentz

By Lisa Ferentz - In the early days of the trauma field, clients were seen as one-dimensional bundles of dysfunction and pain, who needed to relive their trauma before progress could be made. But an increased interest in post-traumatic growth has allowed many therapists to see that insight and healing can occur not only in the midst of devastating experiences, but even because of them.

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The Best Way to Support Older Caregivers

...And the One Question You Probably Didn't Think to Ask

Nancy Kriseman

By Nancy Kriseman - The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that 5.2 million Americans affected by dementia are over the age 65, which makes the vast majority members of what’s called the traditionalist generation. Understanding this generation’s entrenched values and how they can affect their coping and your intervention can facilitate better outcomes.

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#MeTooManyTimes

How the Latest Movement Against Sexual Predation is Rattling Some Therapy Clients

Lauren Dockett

By Lauren Dockett - Many therapists who specialize in sexual abuse and trauma are reporting that the #MeToo movement and the ongoing accusations of sexual assault and harassment against powerful, public men are deeply affecting their clients.

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From Trauma to Recovery and Wholeness

A Trauma Survivor Shares Her Story and Explains What Our Field Has Yet to Learn

Dusty Miller

By Dusty Miller - As a systems therapist, incest survivor, and recovering alcoholic, I've lived through several stages of our culture's attempt to come to terms with child sexual abuse—as a victim in the silent 1950s; as a therapy client in the oblivious 1960s and 1970s; and as a psychotherapist in the 1980s and 1990s. We clinicians are still feeling our way toward a middle path.

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