In Bastard Out of Carolina, why is it important to pay attention to your feelings when working with trauma survivors?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I assume your question is based on the way in which Bone is constantly abused and made to believe that what has happened to her is somehow her fault because of her mother's inability to get Glen out of her and her daughter's life. Clearly, Bone represents a case of child abuse that is disturbing and extreme in lots of ways, but we can draw from it some simple rules as to how a counsellor working with such an individual as Bone should approach that job and what ground rules should be put into place.

Even just reading about the experiences of Bone, it is clear that the biggest danger for a counsellor would be to become overwhelmed with sadness and depression at what Bone has experienced and endured. It is therefore important as a counsellor to pay attention to your own feelings so that you are able to not turn the counselling into a session that is about your own grief and sadness about what your client has experienced. Clearly counselling should be focussed on the client and their life story, not your own emotional response to what they say. It is vital therefore that you distance yourself from the situation whilst carrying out the counselling to ensure that the client is able to express their emotions and not have to cope with yours as well.