What is your first memory? What emotions and actions surround that memory? My first memory is when I was about 3 years old, after an injury- I was in the hospital, the doctor thought I was a boy, I was afraid and in shock. Child development tells us that memory is attached to language development and strong emotion. My memory is attached to fear- unfortunate, but true.
When we remember events from our distant past- how do we know that they are real memories or if we are remembering things incorrectly? Do the facts of the event really matter? Take my memory, for example, I remember wearing my brother’s red snowsuit, my father remembered the event in warmer weather. The details in this case add nothing to my perception of the event.
From a counseling perspective, the memory isn’t as important as the perception of the event and the emotions surrounding the event. If fear is the predominant emotion surrounding a memory, the majority of that memory’s facts will be colored by that fear. If happiness is the emotion, then the memory will lean toward joy.
In counseling, we explore more perception than an event; but that exploration in no way downplays the facts, especially if those events are traumatic. Counseling can help resolve and align the emotion with the memory, building a stronger connection, and the ability to use both the memory and the emotion to grow. What memories do you need help with?
Karen Williams, LPC-Associate
under the Supervision of Melinda Porter, LPC-S