• Self-Help Books

  • A Recovery Bill of Rights for Trauma Survivors

    As a Matter of Personal AUTHORITY,
                   You Have the Right ...

    ...to manage your life according to your own values 
       and judgment
    ...to direct your recovery, answerable to no one for 
       your goals, effort, or progress
    ...to gather information to make intelligent decisions 
       about your recovery
    ...to seek help from a variety of sources, unhindered 
       by demands for exclusivity
    ...to decline help from anyone without having to justify 
       the decision
    ...to have faith in your powers of self restoration -- 
       and to seek allies who share it
    ...to trust allies in healing as much as any adult can trust another, but
       no more
    ...to be afraid and to avoid what frightens you
    ...to decide for yourself whether, when, and where to 
       confront your fear
    ...to learn by experimenting, that is, to make mistakes.

    For the Preservation of Personal BOUNDARIES, 
                 You Have the Right ...

    ...to be touched only with your permission, and only in 
       ways that are comfortable
    ...to choose to speak or remain silent, about any topic 
       or at any moment
    ...to choose to accept or decline feedback, suggestions, or
    ...to ask for help in healing, without having to accept help 
       with work, play, or love
    ...to challenge any crossing of your boundaries
    ...to take appropriate action to end any trespass that does 
       not cease when challenged.

    In the Sphere of Personal COMMUNICATION, 
                    You Have the Right ...

    ...to ask for explanation of communications you do not 
    ...to express a contrary view when you do understand 
       and you disagree
    ...to acknowledge your feelings, without having to 
       justify them as assertions of fact or actions affecting 
    ...to ask for changes when your needs are not being met
    ...to speak of your experience, with respect for your 
       doubts and uncertainties
    ...to resolve doubt without deferring to the views or wishes 
       of anyone.

    Specific to the DOMAIN of Psychotherapy, 
                   You Have the Right ...

    ...to hire a therapist or counselor as coach, not boss, 
       of your recovery
    ...to receive expert and faithful assistance in healing 
       from your therapist
    ...to be assured that your therapist will refuse to engage 
       in any other relationship with you -- business, social, 
       or sexual -- for life
    ...to be secure against revelation of anything you have 
       disclosed to your therapist, unless a court of law 
       commands it
    ...to have your therapist's undivided loyalty in relation 
       to any and all perpetrators, abusers, or oppressors
    ...to receive informative answers to questions about your 
       condition, your hopes for recovery, the goals and methods 
       of treatment, the therapist's qualifications
    ...to have a strong interest by your therapist in your 
       safety, with a readiness to use all legal means to 
       neutralize an imminent threat to your life or someone else's
    ...to have your therapist's commitment to you not depend on 
       your "good behavior," unless criminal activity or ongoing 
       threats to safety are involved
    ...to know reliably the times of sessions and of your 
       therapist's availability, including, if you so desire, 
       a commitment to work together for a set term
    ...to telephone your therapist between regular scheduled 
       sessions, in urgent need, and have the call returned within 
       a reasonable time

    ...to be taught skills that lessen risk of retraumatization:
      (a) containment (reliable temporal/spatial boundaries for recovery
      (b) systematic relaxation;
      (c) control of attention and imagery (through trance or other
    ...to reasonable physical comfort during sessions.

    © 1995 by Thomas V. Maguire, Ph.D. 191 King Street, Chappaqua, NY 10514. tmaguire@pipeline.com

    All rights reserved, except that permission is hereby granted to freely reproduce and distribute this document, provided that it is reproduced unaltered in its entirety and distributed free of charge.

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