Psychotherapy and psychoanalysis
Counselling and psychotherapeutic programmes for adults
Programme for Women Survivors of Domestic Violence
This was the first programme offered at the Centre. Most of the women who seek help at the Centre are survivors of domestic violence. Women in a situation of on-going domestic violence, who have decided to change their lives, contact Animus. With the help of a psychotherapist, they take time to study their traumatic experience and their behaviour as victims, and plan concrete steps and decisions The main method of work with them is psycho-dynamic psychotherapy. In a long-term plan clients reconsider their past and integrate their traumatic experience in building new non-violence-based relationships.
The programmes are directed at women:
* Whose husbands or partners use physical violence – beating, kicking, choking, etc.
* Who suffer sexual violence in their homes – who are forced to have sex at a time and in a way that they do not like.
* Who suffer emotional violence – control, jealousy, blame, abuse, humiliation, threats, offences, isolation, and limitation of their contacts with relatives and friends, economic dependence, and abuse of their children.
A psychotherapist can help a woman:
* Express and share her feelings
* Clarify her experience of domestic violence – the forms of violence, the concrete mechanisms of abuse with power and control, the risk to her health and to her life
* Explore her own resources for coping with the situation
* Discuss her plans and fears
* Talk about the possible choices and decisions concerning the future
* Explore the emotional consequences of the violence suffered
* Survive the trauma caused by violence
Programme for Women Survivors of Sexual Violence
Sexual violence results in heavy psychological trauma that affects a woman’s life for a long time. One of the severe symptoms of such violence is the loss of trust in people. Victims need time to overcome the fear, shame, and distrust in order to look for help. More and more women are seeking help directly after a violent incident. This is encouraging because it considerably increases a victim’s chances of rehabilitation. The main emphasis in the psychotherapeutic work is overcoming the feelings of fear, shame, and guilt. The aim is for the woman to deal with the painful emotional consequence of her experience and regain a feeling of control in her life.
The programme serves women victims of:
* Rape by an acquaintance or stranger
* Sexual violence by relative (”incest”)
* Lechery, forced oral/anal sex, etc.
* Every other sexual coercion or threat
The programme helps women cope with their emotions and overcome the trauma caused by sexual violence. Often, women victims of rape do not share feelings with anyone. They feel guilty and isolated. With the help of a therapist, in an atmosphere of confidentiality, trust, and understanding, women:
* Share their experiences
* Recall the traumatic event and share their story without fear of being blamed
* Identify the effects that the event had on their life and their relations with the other people
* Make a security plan
* Organize their thoughts and decide what to do
* Regain their confidence and ability to cope
* Receive support in prosecuting the perpetrator
* Overcome trauma and restore their emotional life
Programme for Women Survivors of Trafficking in Women
Trafficking in women is the most destructive form of violence that the Centre works against. The women survivors of trafficking need intensive emotional and social rehabilitation. There are parallels between the experience of trafficking and surviving a concentration camp. In order to survive these situations, the victim often suppresses her psychological and human identity. Because they suffer isolation and captivity, these women lose all connections with their families and all other social and emotional resources. These women also suffer from society’s stigmatisation and victimization of women involved in prostitution. The programme provides a combination of emotional and social support. The aim is for the woman to learn to manage dark thoughts about the meaning of her life, without denying her past or losing confidence in her future. With help from psychotherapists, the women learn to acknowledge and accept their history of captivity and prostitution. In order to start planning their future, it is necessary for the women to reconsider and overcome their feelings of guilt and shame and reclaim their human identity. The social support aims to help the women recover basic things that they have lost – shelter, money, and connection with their families.
The programme is established to be of use to women:
* Who were forced to be prostitutes through coercion, violence, and manipulation
* Who were threatened with kidnapping, sold, and
* forced into prostitution abroad
Women from other countries who were trafficked in Bulgaria.
* Trafficking and forced prostitution mark and devastate the lives of women victims. The trauma has serious effects on their emotional life and their mental health. They need special care and time for rehabilitation. The programme helps women to overcome the difficult events, to reclaim their autonomy, and to cope with future difficulties.
This is only possible when women:
* Find support, understanding, and do not feel blamed
* Find a safe and protective environment where they can share their problems and priorities
* Can share strong feelings (fear, shame, guilt, anger) and receive support in order to cope
* Find support when they have flashbacks and remember the horror they experienced
* Receive support in regaining self-esteem
* Have an opportunity to discuss their safety and their plans for the future
* Explore the symptoms of mental trauma and receive support in overcoming them
* Find support in regaining trust in people and in life
Programme for psychological consultation of couples with violence problems
The programme is designed mainly for young couples who need assistance in solving conflicts in their relationship and in limiting violence in the family. Another aim of the programme is to provide an opportunity for the male perpetrators who want to start controlling their violence to receive professional psychological help. In the programme for working with couples and for each concrete case, a team is formed consisting of a male and female therapist. The programme is in support of couples who want to stay together and establish a partnership without violating each other’s human rights. A decisive factor for participation in the Programme is the involvement of the male partner. The programme is still in the process of development.
Counselling and psychotherapeutic programmes for children and adolescents
o Psychoanalytical therapy for children and adolescents
o Psychodynamic consultation for parents
o Psychodynamic family therapy
o Short-term focused therapy for children and adolescents
o Consultation with candidates for adoption and foster care
o Consultation with adoption and foster care families after the child has been taken into the family
o Consultation with children about to be adopted, accommodated in foster families or children returned to their biological families
o Training and empowering greater social skills in children that have left institutions to pursue independent lives