Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A young womb twin survivor in therapy - should I say?

I had a long and rather wonderful conversation with a trainee counsellor yesterday, who  works with children in schools. I  suggested that some of the children she met would probably be womb twin survivors.  How would I know? She asked. What would I say?

Several interesting ethical considerations arose:

1) If the parents made clear that the child was a twin before birth, then everyone would know, except probably the child. Should the counsellor ever explain, or even imply, to the child that some of what was coming up in the sessions was related to being a womb twin survivor? Or would it be best to let the child become aware in their own way and in their own time?

2) If the parents know about the twin but say nothing to the counselling agency and the counsellor recognises signs that the child is probably a womb twin survivor, should the counsellor approach the parents about this to establish if there is any proof?

3) If the parents say nothing or claim there was not a twin because they do not realise that certain pregnancy or bodily symptoms can signal the loss of a twin, but the counsellor remains convinced, is it best to say nothing or to indicate this to the child somehow, as an explanation  of their strange feelings?

4) If there genuinely is absolutely no  pregnancy or bodily sign that the child is a womb twin survivor, yet the child shows definite psychological signs that they are indeed a womb twin survivor, should the counsellor inform the parent of this possibility?

I think there is a way forward.

If the child is still young, ie 6 or 7 years, a story book can help. Neither the story of Birdy and Beaky in the book "Two little birds"  nor the story of Koko, the invisible friend, mention twins directly, but the underlying story in each case is the healing path for womb twin survivors. In this way a story can reach the child at the deepest emotional level.

Sometimes there is no need for explanations, when all that is needed is well-informed, empathetic understanding.

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