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A Client’s Story

(The information in the case study is anonymised; all names and personal details have been changed)

Anna came to counselling after experiencing sexual abuse as a young child, and domestic abuse as an adult. She shared that her past was negatively impacting her present life and expressed these hopes for her future; ‘to live in the present; to better understand triggers, and to feel safe and able to look after herself’.

We worked together in counselling to build a ‘toolbox’ of resources that Anna could experiment with to begin to learn what was soothing, relaxing, energising, safe etc. We used her strengths, interests, and personality to find strategies that would be helpful and relevant to her. Learning about the impact of trauma helped Anna understand her triggers and reactions, which helped her begin to untangle the past from her present. In sessions, she learned to notice emotional dysregulation and to practice regulation which helped her build skills to use in life and relationships. Anna shared that counselling gave her space to be herself, and to learn to help herself by asking herself questions about her thoughts and feelings.

Having space to talk about her experience of domestic abuse helped Anna to recognise the impact of emotional abuse and to acknowledge some of the scars she carries from this relationship. She was able to process some of her emotions and begin to heal some of these scars. She learned to share past hurts with her partner, allowing her to feel heard, understood and safe in the present.

Anna shared some of the changes she noticed over the course of our work together:

  • Recognising, understanding and responding triggers
  • Emotional regulation – learning to feel safe and present in the here and now
  • Self-care and self-compassion – increased ability to look after her own emotional needs
  • Improved relationships

Toward the end of counselling, Anna shared how helpful she had found counselling. She commented that she had come to counselling believing that she would need to ‘go back to her past’ to feel better but that, instead, she had ‘learned to live happily in the here and now’.

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