Emotional counseling is an essential part of care for the woman who elects to terminate her pregnancy. In my experience with counseling over 400 women since abortion became legalized in Hawaii, I am convinced that helping a woman express her feelings about abortion can make it a more comfortable event and, in some cases, can help the woman grow emotionally. Recent studies done since abortion became legal indicate that there are no serious emotional consequences that can be attributed to abortion, but it is still a significant event in the patient's life (Gedan 1973).
Approximately 25 percent of my patients were teenagers, and I came to realize that in addition to having an accepting attitude toward these women, the counselor must also be willing to freely disclose her own feelings and experiences. I have found that patients of all ages resist doing all the revealing and appreciate the involvement of their therapist. An adolescent, in particular, may feel she is being interrogated and resent the intrusion of an authority figure into sensitive areas.
If the counselor takes some initiative in exposing her thoughts and feelings particularly in the beginning of the interview, the adolescent is likely to follow her example. Openness on the part of the counselor makes the tone of the interview a conversation between equals.
When an adolescent girl comes to a health agency, she brings with her memories of her former experiences with physicians, nurses, other