chapter  89
3 clients abused as children
Pages 2

First and foremost, as with all clients, the ®rst thing to grasp about doing person-centred therapy with people who have been abused as children is that it is the client who is at the centre of the relationship, not the abuse. Each person's experience is unique and although there may be some common themes in the stories of people abused as children, they will not be uniform or formulaic and not all `expected' threads will be in every story. Power (in press) points out that, moreover, abused people often have contradictory ideas about their abuse. They may be at once outraged by what has happened to them, so deeply self-critical, so that even when they experience their therapist's positive regard, it is hard for them to shift their deeply held conditions of worth and even have some warm (or at least ambivalent) memories of the abusive relationship and/or abuser. Needless to say, it is the task of the person-centred therapist to unconditionally accept and empathically understand the client's current experience regardless of personal reactions to and beliefs about the effects of childhood abuse. This will probably include empathising and respecting the part of the client that loved, or still loves the abuser. Generally, it would be a mistake to challenge the perception the client has of the abuser whatever that may be.