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Abuse And Trauma

Question:

Dr., I was abused mentally by my mother and sexually by three family members and physically by my father. I haven’t got help yet. I did go talk to one and she wanted to do sand trays and art therapy. What kind of help do you think I need? I have flash backs. I have always know that I was abused but had tried to hide it and now it has came back.

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Answer:

My standard disclaimer applies; there is no way to properly or ethically come to a good understanding of a person’s difficulties over the net. However, there are some possibilities that are more likely for your case and some that are less likely. One good possibility is that you are dealing with something in the neighborhood of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD occurs at least six months after a person has been traumatized (sexual and physical abuse can easily be a traumatic experience) and is characterized by a trio of symptom clusters including: 1) intrusive thoughts, flashbacks or dreams about the trauma that come unbidden and often without warning, 2) avoidance of anything that reminds you of the trauma, detachment, numbness and even dissociation in some cases and 3) increased arousal in the form of easy startle and rapid heart beat. Periods of numbness generally alternate with periods of intrusion and arousal. PTSD as a discrete disorder is only recently understood. Much of what we know comes from studies of Vietnam era combat veterans. PTSD is known to occur in victims of rape and abuse (both physical and sexual abuse).

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p>If we are talking about severe abuse and possibly PTSD too then sand tray therapy probably isn’t going to help much. Better for you to make an appointment with a Psychiatrist, Clinical Psychologist or your local mental health center so that you can be properly diagnosed and educated about treatment options.

Good Luck.

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