More threads by David Baxter PhD

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Not Left Behind: Putting abandonment issues behind you with the right therapist
By Nando Pelusi Ph.D.
Psychology Today
14 Jan 2008

If I am working on childhood abandonment issues. What type of counselor will help guide me through this?

What you call childhood abandonment issues could mean that you attribute your current issues to what happened in the past (how you were treated in your childhood), and that your present has been determined by the past. It could also mean that you have anxiety about separating from people today, such as saying goodbye to friends or letting bad relationships go. In either case, however, the way you think now is more important than what happened to you in the past. That's why childhood abandonment issues are important, but must be put into context.

Counselors vary in their focus on the past, but any certified counselor or psychologist with whom you connect is a good fit. Try speaking with several over the phone and tell them your concerns. You will get a sense of whether they could provide a workable match.

First, recognize that even if past experiences were fraught with abandonment and anxieties, you can still undo the tendency to get upset about separation. Second, the way to cultivate strength is to question ideas that have kept you anxious about abandonment.

The antidote to feelings of abandonment is a sense of self-direction. Self-direction is a sense of faith in yourself that you can build. It is formed by seeing that you do not need certainty about what you want or where you want to go in life.

Here's how it works: The anxiety you may feel about abandonment today is likely a habitual emotional response, caused by a history of thinking terrifying thoughts when you are faced with separation from loved ones. Feeling rejected by loved ones can be a common trigger for fear, and that can lead to a sense of immobility, which makes you lose trust in your own self-direction.

If you feel abandoned as an adult, you have some emotional work to do: Uprooting the idea that you need the right direction, and that you must know that you chose that right direction. Abandonment of adults is a little bit of an overstatement?because we form, and break, alliances fairly regularly?even when married. We can work to nurture a sense of security within our relationships, but no guarantee can exist.

When people are concerned about "abandonment," they are really craving a guarantee that a relationship stays strong and intact. Unfortunately, no one can get that guarantee, which can drive some to anxiety and despair instead. A sense of internal direction, and the confidence to pursue it, is the way out of abandonment.


Account Closed
Thanks for posting this - This is what I am working on presently in therapy. Rationally I know there are no guarentees in life and that I will be ok if certain people leave. Another part of me freaks out at even the thought of it.
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