I found On The Threshold of Hope to be an excellent guide to healing for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. The author, Diane Mandt Langberg, PhD, is a highly respected Christian psychologist who has successfully cared for many childhood sexual abuse survivors for several decades in her private practice. It is clear that she has learned much from listening to, and valuing, the stories shared with her by clients.
There is an attitude of hope and healing through Jesus Christ that is established early and that continues throughout the entire book. “Whatever your story is, there is no darkness he cannot banish, no depth he cannot plumb, no devastation he cannot redeem. I know, for I have seen him do it” (p. 7). Then she refers to Jesus, and the author incorporates Scripture references throughout as encouragement.
The book is divided in to five parts. In Part One the reader is given wise counsel about how to proceed in reading the book, such as to read in small amounts and to journal thoughts and feelings raised by the topics that were addressed.
In Part Two, “Dealing with the Abuse,” the author notes the importance of telling one’s story, as childhood sexual abuse often has a way of silencing the survivor. Sexual abuse is defined, as are the terms triggers, flashbacks, nightmares, and dissociation. One of the most powerful components of the book is found in a section about “The Battle with Evil.” Dr. Langberg writes, “Fighting against the enemy of our souls is a battle” (p.78). She encourages the survivor to find compassionate and caring individuals who will pray with them and for them through the journey to healing.
In Part Three, Dr. Langberg explores what sexual abuse damages—the body, emotions, thinking, relationships and spirit of the survivor.
Then in Part Four, she gives salient counsel about healing each specific type of damage. Dr. Langberg addresses each aspect by writing, “Let me remind you that there is hope. Healing will come. Healing will come through the power of the Redeemer” (p. 139, 149, 159, 167, 177).
Finally, in Part Five, Dr. Langberg addresses finding others who can help in the healing process. She offers considerations when looking for a competent counselor. I appreciated her reminder that “Scripture tells us that life ultimately comes from the Spirit. So while you may learn and grow from a counseling relationship, redemption comes from God, not from therapy” (p. 194). She also addresses the loved ones of a child sexual abuse survivor, and ways that they can care for themselves while supporting the survivor.
In summary, I found the book to be a very thorough, hope-filled, Christ-centered approach to healing the damage caused by childhood sexual abuse. I would definitely recommend it to both survivors as well as for those walking beside them in their journey of healing.
Author: Langberg, Diane Mandt.
Reviewed by: Sheryl Cowling, LCSW, BCPCC, BCETS on April 2015