The Memory Debate
Help in finding the best person to talk to.
If you as a Christian leader are approached to help a survivor,
please be aware of your limitations and that to help people in this area
requires years of training and experience. Please do not dabble but refer the
survivor to someone who is equipped to deal with the needs.
It is important for church leaders to be able to obtain the best
available help for those who approach us with memories of sexual abuse. The
guidelines are concise but do not claim to be complete, they are also no
guarantee of success:
- Examine the qualifications of the professional*.
or qualification in Psychiatry, Psychology, Therapy, Counselling or Social Work
are generally signs of competence and expertise.
- Ask to which society or association the professional belongs.
Recognition by a group or body that has national recognition is vital.
- Enquire what regular peer supervision the professional has and
the name and qualification of the supervisor. If there is no ongoing
supervision you should ask why, as this is a vital element suggested by many of
the major national associations.
- Evaluate the techniques or therapies that the professional
uses, if the professional adheres strictly to just one school of thought this
may prevent objectivity in treatment. Some techinques are offensive to
Christian belief and their use or non-use should be discussed at the
- Look at manner of the professional, are they; sympathetic to
the beliefs of the client; concerned for the clients wellbeing; attentive to
the client and their needs; friendly and amiable in their dealings; encouraging
- Ask what the beliefs of the professional are about religion,
child abuse, recovered memory, ritual abuse, etc.
- Ensure that the Survivor remains in control and that it is he
or she who decides which professional they agree to see. If the survivor has
any concerns about any of the therapies, seek a second opinion and discuss the
concerns with the professional.
- Don't underplay or under-estimate the role that the church and
you as their minister will play in the overall and ongoing help of the survivor
when talking to the professional, and be wary of any professional who attemps
to play down or marginalise the church's role.
- Don't be overawed by titles, positions or letters after the
names of the professional. If they will not answer questions they are not as
professional as they think and may not be the right person for the survivor to
- Pray: I will assume that you began here but the choice of a
suitable professional by the survivor is vital and your ongoing prayerful care
and support is crucial.
* a professional is a psychiatrist, psychologist,
psycho-therapist, therapists, Christian counsellors, counsellors and may
include social workers, psychiatric nurses and church ministers and Christian
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