MARY K. ARMSTRONG spent her working life as a social work psychotherapist, specializing in psychological trauma. She earned her Master of Social Work degree from the School of Social Work, University of Toronto, and has trained extensively in the techniques of Focusing and EMDR. Now retired, Mary lives in Kingston, Ontario.

Confessions of a Trauma Therapist: A Memoir of Healing and Transformation

Confessions of a Trauma Therapist is my story of uncovering my own history of child sexual abuse in my 40s. By this time in my life I was a social work psychotherapist in private practice helping others who suffered the invisible wounds of childhood trauma.

In my 70s I decided to tell my story so that others who have suffered childhood trauma could see their pain reflected in my story of struggle and success.

Aging and Staying in Charge of Your Life

A collection of blog posts detailing my journey through aging, downsizing, de-cluttering and, as is typical of my age group, moving to a new city in order to be close to my offspring.

At the age of 78, after leaving my marriage of 55 years, I found an inner freedom that had eluded me for decades. My message to women? It’s never too late to take your own power – whatever it takes.

I would love to connect with you – please like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, and subscribe to my YouTube channel.


“Trauma therapist Mary K. Armstrong embarks on an illuminating journey into her own secret past and emerges with a renewed sense of personal authenticity and joy in helping others. A compelling synthesis of Eastern and Western healing wisdom.”

– Sylvia Fraser, author of My Father’s House: A Memoir of Incest and Healing


  1. Hi Mary,

    I applaud your book. I have worked with trauma survivors
    for 30 years and am one myself. This dual track has sometimes been confusing; often helpful; sometimes painful.

    But I wish there were more therapists who would talk about their own abuse. We all know that probablly a lot of us were.Same goes for battered women.

    I will get your book and enjoy it.

    I am 72; work part-time; and devote rest of time to working on a novel. Married with dog. Hah. (And , yes, the novel does have a sexually abused character.)

    Again. Cheers for your guts.

    Best, Claire Holcomb-Drapkin (my ‘Psychology Today’ page is under ‘Holcomb.”

    PS I am not very literate on computers. Hence, I don’t really ‘get it’ about where comments here go. I guess by saying this, to you, so freely, is ‘coming clean.’ It was a long struggle, but almost totally it is gone. Thank God.

  2. Karen Glasgow says:

    The question you asked was what would I say when someone discloses sexual abuse. My first thought is safety for the person disclosing the abuse as their safety and comfort level is paramount to their recovery. I would ask if they wanted to talk about what they had disclosed, if there was someone they trusted or some place they felt safe where they could stay. I have found that allowing the one who discloses to set the pace helps them gain a sense of control over their life, asking what they are comfortable sharing. I would gather as much information as possible and advise them of my obligation to report the information to authorities if they are minors. I would ask them if they want to tell or me to tell? Since secrets are so deadly to the abused I would explain why they should “tell” the authorities”. And I have found that many of my abuse victims were abused by authority such as police, judges, ministers, teachers, or relatives, so they have little to no faith in a justice system where those who sworn to protect them are the abusers. Then we must first consider safety of the victim before prosecution of the perpetrator. Once the victim is safe then we confront the perpetrators. The list of perpetrators includes: police officers, judges, minister, brothers fathers, mothers, minister, uncle, doctors, therapist…

    • Lana says:

      Thank you for this. I just recently uncovered a 35 hr-old case of prosecutorial misconduct in my own case against my father when I was 16. he was a former cop and his case was clearly intentionally tanked. My trust of the legal system has been shattered, however a brave assistant prosecutor who reviewed the case and has determined that it was mishandled, is offering me a public apology. She has done much to restore my faith, and she has done so much to help me heal this deep betrayal. There are good people out there, it just takes some searching to find them. I got lucky. I am healing, finally.

  3. Julie Norman says:

    As a LCPC, CADC, and former Child Protective Services caseworker and supervisor (15 years), my first thought was: shut up and listen. Listen to the words of the child, or adult abused as a child. Listen to what they may have kept secret for many months or years.

    Many professionals do not truly want to hear these truths because it is too difficult, too terrible to hear, so the words are not heard or are misconstrued. The abused one is abandoned once again. Just listen and be supportive. Withhold your own feelings of anger or revulsion.

    It happens everyday in doctor’s offices, in interviews, in police departments and schools. Trust that the person revealing this information is being truthful. And if you are not able to follow through, then immediately get the child to someone who knows what to do. Or seek immediate supervision. Or refer to another professional.

    You have been chosen by an injured, shamed, frightened person who has just entrusted you to hear what no one may have heard before.

  4. Your book encouraged me to continuing trying to uncover my past. “The truth shall set you free” keeps going through my mind.

    • Thanks for letting me know how my book helped you, Elizabeth. Once we know our histories, life makes sense. The shame I had, the embarrassment I felt for irrational thoughts and actions – all that finally was understandable. Much of my life was a normal response for abnormal events I had suffered.

      • Kim Alvarez says:

        Hi Mary,I could not help but notice your statement, “Once we know our histories, life makes sense.” How very true that is. I am finally free today to talk about my abuse that I had kept secret for many years. I am now 56 yrs old. I was sexually abused beginning at 8yrs old by a neighbor who was 16 yrs old. A family member witnessed the neighbor abusing and threatened to tell our parents “what I had done” UNLESS I let him to do the same. The abuse by the neighbor had stopped, but the abuse my family member continued for 4 yrs. Shame, guilt & self-loathing was deep-seeded for many years. I told my husband 20 yrs ago and he confronted the neighbor. Unfortunately my family got mad at me for this. One of my sisters asked me “why was I coming out with this now” and I “should be ashamed because now I have put my parents at risk because the neighbor will never be there to help them if they need it”. My parents would not speak to me about it. That shut me down again and I certainly could not tell the extent of the abuse after that. I began years in and out of therapy for major depression but never told the therapist about the family member abusing me. After some very traumatic events in my life the last 7 yrs, the abuse triggered its ugly head and I went back into therapy. I had to confront it once and for all because I was on the verge of taking my life. With that I confronted my family member at which time he ostracized and ridiculed me for not “getting over it” because he had. He then told me the neighbor had abused him too. I came out and told my family again the extent of my abuse, including the family member. I was called a liar among other things. My mother told me she “was too old” to deal with it shutting me out. Of course, she dealt with it the same way 20 yrs ago when she wasn’t too old, she just basically let me know I was not worthy of suppport. She was always abusive herself and continued to demean me afterwards, so I have shut her out of my life. I grew up in a very abusive family with no boundaries, so I had to realize they were toxic and back away. Anyway, when my family member told me he was also abused by the neighbor, I went to the authorities realizing that my silence all these years was most likely putting children at risk. My family member’s silence put me at risk, so I could not keep quiet any longer. The neighbor was charged with Crimes Against Nature (a NC statute) and last month we finally went to court and he was convicted on 3 felony counts, but received supervised probation and psychological counseling. It was the best I could ask for after this many years. It was a very liberating feeling to sit in that court room and tell my abuser how he had affected my life and that I was taking back my power that he had stole from me all those years ago. I wanted to set a precedent that no longer how long ago we were victimized, that we can still find courage to speak out, and hold our perpetrators accountable.

        • First of all, I want to praise you for your courage and your ability to break the mould of silence surrounding your terrible abuse. Child abuse can exit only in secret and you have joined the ranks of those of us who refuse to collude in this web of silence and denial.

          Thank you for sharing your story.


  5. Lana says:

    You did well, Mary. It’s important for everyone to speak the truth about abuse and you did just that. There are so many therapists who are survivors but choose not to disclose for one reason or another. I respect those decisions. There is much to be gained by reading the experiences and insights of a experienced trauma therapist who was herself a victim of abuse. Bravo! And thank you!

  6. Elisai says:

    Where are the videos ?
    is there an audiobook?

  7. Whoa a lot of valuable information.

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  9. Eric Timm says:

    hi Mary

    I’m reading your book, Confessions of a TT… it’s great. I’m wondering if you know of a trauma therapist working with Focusing in the Montreal area.


    Eric Timm
    514 773-8025


  10. Hello Mary,

    I hope you are very well, Mary.

    I have written a book that you are acknowledged in, and I would like to send you a copy of it. You helped me transform a bunch of trauma that I didn’t know I had many moons ago (2000). Could you send me an email with an address that I could mail a copy of my book to?

    My very best wishes to you,


  11. Judy Archer says:

    Hi Mary, did you send a request to friend me? i think not and I replied so someone may be impersonating you sending a how a re you doing/ on messenger


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