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August 20, 2018 - Welcome Guest!

Advice » Mental Health

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Am I dependent on my counselor?

Question:

As a child I was sexually abused for a long time. I have had a lot of counseling for the last three years. I think I may have a problem, as I have come to be dependent on her. I really like her a lot. She has given me back my life. She is the kindness that I have never known. I love going to her for counseling. In the last year I have had issues about food. Last summer I stopped eating for three weeks and since then I mostly only eat one meal a day. I lost 42 lbs. I am now at 120 lbs., and I am very tall. Most people tell me that I am too thin now, but I like how I am at this weight. I can't stand if I even put on a pound.

I don't really know if I have an eating problem or not. Does it sound like I am too dependent on my counselor?

Monica (41 year-old woman)

Answer:

Dear Monica,

First of all, let me just say how sorry I am that such terrible things happened to you as a child, and for so long.

Secondly, no, I'm not concerned about whether you are too dependent on your therapist. You may not realize it, but three years is not a long time to be in therapy for sexual abuse in childhood. It is not only common for you to feel dependent on her, it is probably a very good sign at this point. You have needed to find a safe "parent-type" person (like a good therapist can be) for a long time. Once you've found such a person you are very likely to feel young in their presence, because the little girl inside of you does feel as if she "needs" the therapist. (You should know that if something happens and this therapist isn't available for a while, however, that there are many other good therapists you could find on your own or who your current therapist could refer you to. It's OK to believe you "need" her while you've got her, but if you lose her some day you will need to realize that she isn't the only person who can be there for you in tough times.)

My biggest concern is about your eating disorder. And, yes, I do think it's very likely that you have an eating disorder considering that so many people think you are too thin and you think it would be terrible if you gained even a pound! (Many people with eating disorders have been sexually abused too, of course.)

I think you can just feel lucky that you have found a therapist who is a good match for you and you should tell her everything and work with her to overcome the eating disorder as well as the childhood trauma. I mention "tell her everything" because both sexual abuse and eating problems tend to be related to "shame issues". and people with shame issues tend to hurt their own therapy quite a bit by holding back or "waiting until the right moment" to tell their therapists everything. This is the main way they water down their therapy, and one of the biggest reasons why therapy needs to be lengthy.

Tony Schirtzinger

This question was answered by Tony Schirtzinger.

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