I have a client I have been working with for approximately 6 weeks. This past April she was raped by an unknown stranger. Her current boyfriend seems to think this was actually an acquaintance of hers and believes she was cheating on him. When we discussed the rape she was visibly distraught about it and started to cry, her feelings got flooded and I realized how she never did deal with what happened. This was a topic to ease into after we established more coping skills for her.
We began to talk about her drug use, she is an "ex-heroin" user, however she told me she was a cutter and showed me her arms, which looked like needle marks and she said she used a nail clipper to cut herself because things are so difficult in her life right now.
Her boyfriend called me hysterical he found her with syringes she told him she was shooting water. He said she is on heroin again. They then missed two sessions after that incident. I wasn't sure if I would ever see them again but to my pleasure, they re-scheduled and came back. I talked to the female client and she denied any problems with heroin, but did not give me eye contact which I pointed out to her, I asked her why she refers to her daughter as "the baby" instead of the babies name. In a counseling class back in my graduate school I was taught that using the first name makes it more real to the person. She said she wanted her relationship with her boyfriend improve but he believes she is on drugs again, I didn't accuse or deny that comment. I asked her if she would be willing to take a drug test right now for her boyfriend's peace of mind? and she agreed, we called a local drug and alcohol agency and got her an assessment and drug screen. With the possibility of needing to go inpatient to detox.
This all happened right before the Christmas holiday and I have not been able to touch base and see if she went to the appointment or got a drug screen. I will find out after the new year when I get back to work, we're off all this week. Is she trying to gain some sense of control over her life because it all had been taken away from her by her childhood growing up with a drug addicted mother who did drugs with her and/or being raped and having no control over that situation? There is much to explore with this client and her boyfriend (who is also my client) and their baby. Does social services need called, the boyfriend said the paperwork is already in the process for him to take custody of the child and leave his girlfriend.
The question is how far will she go to gain power and control over her life? What needs to be done with her mental health, drug addiction and desire to have her family together? I plan to help stabilize her mental health, physical health and family needs.
I also am hopeful once she gets stabilized, to utilize EMDR with her, teaching her coping skills to deal with overwhelming feelings and emotions and work through her issues, empowerment and I am hopeful she will progress in a positive way. Maybe couples therapy, she still is technically still married to her ex, the boyfriend is not happy about this and feels cheated. I am believing things can be worked through if that's what they want.
I hope all counselors reading this blog realize how much goes into helping each client fulfill their goals and putting pieces to the puzzle together to repair relationships. No matter how much work needs to be done, all those involved need to want to do the work!
Kimberly Beck is a counselor and a doctoral candidate with a special interest in Self-injury. Other interests are PTSD, trauma, and Borderline personality disorder