Emotional Trauma in Relationship: Consequences and Counseling Options Based on Approach, Indigenous to Russian Culture Traditions

16 апреля 2021

Citation: Aleksandr F Bondarenko., et al. “Emotional Trauma in Relationship: Consequences and Counseling Options Based on Approach, Indigenous to Russian Culture Traditions”. EC Psychology and Psychiatry 9.2 (2020): 01-12.

Emotional Trauma in Relationship: Consequences and Counseling Options Based on Approach, Indigenous to Russian Culture Traditions

Aleksandr F Bondarenko*, Daria S Gavrilyuk, Alla A Guretska, Natalia A Kucherovska and Svetlana L Fedko

Department of Psychology, Kiev National Linguistic University, Ukraine

*Corresponding Author: Aleksandr F Bondarenko, Department of Psychology, Kiev National Linguistic University, Ukraine.

Received: December 10, 2019; Published: January 11, 2020


The present study was aimed at analyzing emotional trauma in relationship and at exploring the indigenous counseling technique as an efficient way of coping with it. The Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ) both with special scales for measuring interpersonal relationship and personal attitudes towards terminal values were administered on 34 students involved in interpersonal relation- ship. 8 of them were diagnosed as traumatized by their relationships. Results showed that the more pronounced the level of depres- sion is, the less important is the subjective value of health and family. Also the deeper the emotions that are experienced, the greater is the feeling of sacrifice in the relationship, or that of feeling onself an actual victim of the partner’s Machiavellianism. It was shown that indigenous approach to counseling victimised persons proved to be especially efficient since the approach does not imply psy- chologization and opens the way to combined psychotherapy.

Keywords: Traumatic Relationships; Victimized Position; Value Orientations; Depression; Indigenous Approach; Counselling


One of the most significant aspect in emotional life of students’ period concerns interpersonal relations with peers both as hetero- sexual and of one gender. In this study, we tried empirically to study the specifics of emotional trauma in interpersonal relationships and identify opportunities, counseling options for the emotionally affected persons, using counseling approach, based on traditional Russian culture known as Ethical Personalism approach [1-5].

So, this study was designed to cover a two-sided problem: emotional trauma in relationship in the age of youth applying the indigenous counseling technique as an efficient way of coping with it. Both of these facets of the problem are widely discussed in literature [6-20].

The essence of the indigenous and explicitly culture-congruous approach is rooted into the main Ethical principle of Eastern Christi- anity, according to which there is an absolute prohibition on human sacrifice both with the Code of laws, adopted in Kiev Rus by Prince Yaroslav the Wise in 11th century and known as “Russkaya Pravda”, i.e. ‘Russian Truth”. According to this Code, the first stage heir after the death of the spouse the wife had to be, not the first-born male (son), as say in the Western Catholic tradition. This law disavows the Oedipus complex in Russian culture, as Freud yet noted. And besides, subjects, who belong to the classic Russian culture are especially sensitive to the archetypal patterns and features of a partner’s behavior which is aimed at sacrificing them to his/her whims or/and desires. Namely, sudden insight when a subject actually realizes that she or he is a pure victim of Machiavellian behavior triggers a chain of traumatic experiences, as a result of which the victim’s personal position is formed. So the subject matter of the study was an internal picture of traumatic experiences alongside with the dynamics of coping with them due to the applied counselling approach.

It is generally recognized that the effects of psychotrauma lead to neurotic states, social isolation of the person, diseases of psychoso- matic nature, negative concentration of human attention solely on their pain and experiences. The most severe psycho-traumas which are not heal to the end and wither in the depths of the subconscious may be activated at any moment. A person who has suffered a psycho- trauma in relationship especially suffers from the fact that she or he loses faith in being able to receive help, human decency, and friend- ship. He/she often feels herself unnecessary, lonely, lost and struck out of life. Such clients often suffer from sleep disorders, prevalence of nightmares and insomnia. Their basic feature is the fact that they fall into the victim position. The latter is manifested in such phenomena as: distortion of reality — “departure to another world”; “designing the desired/alternative reality”; distortion of the laws and principles of formal logic; complete denial of the effectiveness of his or her qualifying judgments. Besides, sexual dysfunction may still be pres- ent; eating disorders; complaints of headache and whole-body pain; depression, guilt, shame, fear, irritability, anxiety, panic attacks etc. [13,14,16,18,19]. Relationship trauma is the most common type of psycho-trauma experienced by people throughout their lives. Every second participant in the study mentions traumatic events related to interpersonal relationships. In this way, injuries related to rejection, betrayal, Machiavellianism are most painful and relevant. They certainly affect the emotional state of the world picture and resilience of a person. Especially a young person. Therefore, our general aim was to explore characteristics of traumatic relationship, emotional states induced by them according to gender and age and to explore effectiveness of Ethical Personalism as a counselling method, congruous to the Classical Russian culture which corresponds to archetypal features of bearers of Russian mentality.

Materials and Methods


The participants of the present study were 34 students of different faculties and departments of four Universities in Kiev who have sought psychological counselling in relation to conflict or difficult personal relationships at the Counselling Center at Kiev National lin- guistic University during 2017 — 2019 years. This Center is well-known in Kiev as it functions since 1987, and it was organized after a famous seminar of Carl Rogers in the former USSR in 1986 [2]. The real sample was not equally distributed by gender: 9 males (mean age = 20.52 years; SD = 3.29) and 25 females (mean age = 22,22 years; SD = 1.71). It is explained by the fact, that only those persons, who really applied to the Counselling center with their real problems in interpersonal relations were considered. It is necessary to take into account that among those who sought counselling were primarily female persons, which certainly reflects the socio-cultural situation of the present-day Kiev.


The present study has been realized according to the National Code of Ethics of the psychologist with strict adherence to the principle of confidentiality and receipt of informed consent provided the condition of absolute anonymity of the data obtained. All assessments and counselling were applied directly only to those with whom psychologists worked in situations of seeking help in connection with difficul- ties in interpersonal relationships. The number of meetings (sessions) in each case varied from one to several [3-6]. If it was necessary to consult a medical doctor and prescribe drugs, counselling was rendered in with psychiatric assistance.


The patient health questionnaire-9 (PHQ)

It is a well-known and rather popular questionnaire designed for quick diagnosis of the severity of a depressive state. Its a self-admin- istered version of the PRIME-MD diagnostic instrument. It provides express screening of a patient’s/client’s emotional state in situ. Value judgments are scored along a four-point scale from 0 to 3, 0 means that the symptom is not present, 1 that the symptom is present several days, 2 that the symptom is present more than half the days; 3 means that it is present nearly every day. The total score may range from 0 to 30; higher scores, starting from 5, reflect a higher level of depressive symptoms [11,16].

The Bondarenko self-esteem projective scale for assessing the mutual contribution to the relationship

The BSEPS [1,3] is used for measuring the mutual contribution to the relationship according to the basic 5 parameters, each of which, except the 5th one, includes 6 scales. The last scale designed to measure the balance of costs and acquisitions in relationship includes only

two dimensions. These scales have to be evaluated, and the items explore the individual’s satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the level of interpersonal relations. Raw scores are converted to standard grades, and the overall balance is drawn for both partners. This projective technique clearly shows who the victim is and who is the beneficiary in the relationship according to the perceptual field of the client. The BSEPS may be used both with couples and individual counseling.

Self-assessment questionnaire by Dembo-Rubinshtein

This questionnaire, modified by P. Yanshin, was used for evaluating value priorities of the clients, concerning their basic personal values. In its essence it reminds a well-known Rokeach Value Survey Form developed by Milton Rokeach (1973) in which terminal values refer to goals of existence while instrumental values refer to manner or ways of behavior [21]. As it is well known, from the very begin- ning this technique was created by T. Dembo to measure ideas about happiness. But due to later modifications, it is now widely used as an effective tool to stimulate self-awareness. In this study, combination of the indicated measuring techniques created conditions for a non-traumatic volumetric assessment of both the personality of those who were traumatised by relationship and their emotional state.

From the resulting array of empirical data were selected to be quantified. Their processing was preceded by standard coding proce- dures, which allowed its further processing by statistical methods of research. The calculations were made using the software package SPSS Base for Windows 23.0.



Data analysis

The distribution of data by variable “age” is not normal. As can be seen from the histogram, the experimental sample consisted mainly of adolescents (See figure 1).