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Psychiatry & Psychology--General/does my younger relative need therapy ?


hi Alan
I'm 20 years old and I feel responsible for providing advise (or help if I can) to one of my younger relatives who is 14 and trusts me a lot , it's a long story but I will try my best to make it short
the girl have one older brother who is 4 years older than her .... before 5 years she and for my surprise her brother told me that he sexualy "abused" her , at the time he was 13 , he actually cried and felt guilty for what he did , they both asked me not to tell anybody about it , so I did the dumbest thing ever : we just made a deal that it will never happen again and if it did the girl must tell someone... I had a tough time believing that things like that can happen even in a well-educated family , I was almost sure it will never happen again but unfortunately it did 1 year after our stupid "deal" , then the girl told me about it and I told their parents , in the end they didn't allow their children to be together alone until they consider  something else , they also talked to their son about his behavior and offered answers to some questions he might had about sex , they also were there for their daughter, the problem is they didn't provide any further treatment for the girl (I did't know if she needed it)
told you it was long story ... the girl and me never talked about the subject since then but I made sure to be there if she needs anything... last weak I was surprised she did bring up the subject , it was very difficult for her to talk about it but she told me that what happened still bothers her once in a while, and I noticed some "red-flags" in her speech like : "it was my fault" or "don't think I'm bad but I feel ..." , also I learned it happened more frequently than I thought :$
I think I can convince her to talk to her parents about getting help ( or I will do it if she feels too scared or ashamed to talk about it) but the questions are : is the right thing to do ?? does she really need therapy ??
I can't really decide ... this happened a "long" time ago , she is in the top of her class , her social life is very well , she is generally happy  and everybody loves her ... I don't want anything to change that !
I read about the subject in order to understand the girl/boy/parents more , and I do have a better understanding for what they might think and feel but still confused and will appreciate it a lot if you can share your thoughts and advice about the subject .
actually I already appreciate that you read all this , thanks :)


You were wrong in worrying that your account was too long for me to get through. But you were right to put abuse in quote marks because it can range from curiosity-driven "playing doctor" to outright rape -- and there is no hint as to seriousness.

What a friend could do is to point out that there are mental-health professionals who specialize in these common feelings of uncertainty and guilt, and it would be simple to find one for her to talk with.  Perhaps a clinical psychologist would be appropriate. (One possible caution is that the law in your jurisdiction might expect the therapist to identify and report the perpetrator, and especially since the boy was so young and the parents are aware and cautious, it would be her right to restrict the therapy discussion to her wish for help in coping.)

The remaining question is point out to whom? Her alone? Her parents? Both? The whole family? I would trust your own judgement and common sense on this. If it's between the two of you, and she wonders if she should declare it to the family, you can suggest that this would be an appropriate topic for her to raise with the therapist.

Thanks for asking us (and for being such a good friend), and I hope the comments help.


Wow -- thanks.  But no, I took you for an English-speaking transplant!
If you're in J'lem and want a name, I could suggest one.  

Psychiatry & Psychology--General

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Alan Auerbach


Taught psychology for 30 years, authored four textbooks. Specialize in introductory and industrial/organizational psychology, but will tackle wider range of areas.

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