Issues Treated in Therapy:
Many people go to therapy to resolve abandonment experiences, and those who attend therapy for other reasons sometimes discover that old abandonment trauma underlies their presenting problems. The fear of abandonment is not an uncommon burden, and it varies in degrees of intensity depending on one’s experience as a young child, among other factors. Most often, this type of fear stems from a loss in childhood, whether loss of a parent through death or divorce, or loss of a protector through abuse. In adulthood, the person who experienced abandonment as a child continues to fear that every significant individual will abandon them because this is what they learned from their early-life experiences. Abandonment fear may be, to some degree, a normal part of being human, but when abandonment fear is intense, frequent, impossible to comfort, or not subject to rational examination, it can interfere with healthy relationships and cause other issues in one's life.
Fear of abandonment can lead to other challenges, such as:
Talking about your fears with a therapist is a great first step to healing abandonment wounds. Therapists who clearly communicate--in words and in actions--a commitment to staying present with their clients, help to begin to soothe abandonment fears. Psychotherapy for this issue is often focused on helping a person tend in a self-compassionate way to the parts of oneself that hold the memories, feelings, and felt sense from abandonment trauma.
Psychotherapy can help someone overcome the fear of abandonment by changing the emotional reaction to the thoughts of abandonment. Working with a trained therapist, a client can learn how to separate the fear of the past from the present, thus recognizing their own distorted perception. This revelation sets the stage for cognitive transformation and teaches the client how to develop more positive, realistic reactions to the events in their lives. Healing occurs when a client begins to recognize that their fear lies in the past and can no longer control their current relationships and daily interactions if they maintain a healthy perspective.
Abandonment can be physical, emotional, or even financial, and in many cases, abandonment can be experienced as a traumatic event in a person's life. For example, children who suffer the loss of a parent may deal with feelings of abandonment for some time. If the death then leads to financial hardship, loss of lifestyle, and perhaps even the loss of a home or change in home, the child may have further feelings of traumatic abandonment. Even adults who were once financially or emotionally supported by a loved one may feel a sense of abandonment after significant economic losses or divorce.
Abandonment comes in many forms, but leaves similar scars. The negative impact that this type of trauma can have on someone cannot be understated. The feelings of apprehension and anxiety that are associated with this form of loss can pervade every relationship that follows in that person's life, whether intimate, social, or business. Fear of abandonment can cause significant impairment and result in a diminished quality of life. But with appropriate treatment, even individuals who struggle with overwhelming abandonment issues can learn to manage them in a healthy and productive way.
Learning to care for oneself, finding the safe and calm center, communicating one’s needs in intimate relationships, and developing trust for other people are all part of overcoming serious abandonment fears.
Last updated: 10-20-2013