Once the counselor establishes what the client views as abuse, the counselor can begin to challenge those beliefs, Ballantyne says. For example, he says, ask the client how his or her personal definition of a healthy relationship is working out. [Say], ‘It’s OK for us to think differently about this, but let’s talk a little bit more about it.’ Anytime you can [give] the control back to the client, I think that’s when changes tend to stick a little more.” Self-perception and society’s perception Clients who have a history with domestic violence can present with myriad related issues, Crowe says.For instance, they may have symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including feeling unsafe, experiencing flashbacks or being jumpy, she says.Providing psychoeducation and teaching clients what a healthy relationship looks like are basic but useful techniques that counselors can use, she says.Clients may need to learn that the manipulation and power struggles they have experienced in their intimate relationships — such as a spouse not allowing them to carry a checkbook or go grocery shopping — aren’t normal or healthy, Crowe says.Murray, who prefers the term intimate partner violence to domestic violence, adds a fourth category: survivors.Survivors may be out of their abusive relationship but still experiencing lingering effects of trauma, such as nightmares or flashbacks.They can be encouraged, and they don’t need to be ruined, [even though] that’s often how they feel.” Introducing the topic in session Nancymarie Bride, an LPC, certified clinical mental health counselor and adjunct faculty member at Kean University in New Jersey, says individuals who have experienced domestic violence are often marginalized by the general public and even by mental health professionals.For that reason, these individuals often “do not expect to be believed,” says Bride, an ACA member and past president of the New Jersey Counseling Association who has worked with people affected by domestic violence — both victims and perpetrators — since the 1980s in private practice and group work.
women (35.6 percent) and more than one-quarter of U. men (28.5 percent) have experienced rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime, according to a recent survey by the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
These clients do not necessarily recognize psychological, verbal or other nonphysical forms of abuse as abuse.
But a lack of recognition is not the only thing that keeps clients from bringing up a history of abuse with counselors, Murray says.
The counselors interviewed for this article also mentioned helping these clients with issues such as anxiety, depression, panic attacks, emotional withdrawal, feelings of helplessness and low self-esteem.
The self-blame and guilt associated with not leaving an abusive relationship sooner, especially if that relationship also involved children, is another major issue that counselors and clients must commonly work through together, Crowe says.