Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Therapists - Help or Hinderance?? That All Depends

I can get pretty passionate about things from time to time. I have strong feelings about some things and am not really afraid to let anyone know about them. It gets me into trouble sometimes but I guess that's the way it goes. I believe that the only way the world can get to be a better place is by talking about the bad stuff that has happened.

One of the things I am most passionate about (besides Arabian horses lol) is the treatment of victims. I believe that the way the world is going to become a better place is by healing victims. Victims who are brave enough to seek help need to be able to count on that help. I have no time for 'bad' therapists!

A while back I wrote a post More Questions from Jumpinginpuddles in which I answered some questions from Amelia, one of the alters from the jumpinginpuddles system. The gist of the post was about Amelia having issues with the therapist when others in the system didn't and how it affected the entire system.

A comment from Lynn of Spilling Ink in Public was related to her What's Eating Me: Part Two My response to her post and to her comment on my post are both the same. I just want to protect her! I want to shield her from the pain she is experiencing because of an inappropriate response from her therapist. I want to find her a REAL therapist. AND I want to see that therapist lose his license! That's right, his license.

Ever since I read her post, I have wanted to respond to this situation but I needed some time to put my thoughts in order. This is such a serious subject that I didn't want to mess it up. Having been through the experience of a therapist's mistake almost killing me, I believe I've come to a place where I can now recognize a sick therapeutic relationship.

Unlike the relationship with the jumpinginpuddles system, Lynn's problem with her therapist is not a communication error between one alter in a system and a kind, caring and supportive therapist. Lynn is NOT so fortunate. "He told me that I was projecting my feelings about the rape onto my house and that if I could not live in the present moment, then I should find a psychiatrist so I could be medicated." Does this sound like a supportive therapist to you?

I think any caring therapist can make a mistake from time to time but in Lynn's case, I don't think this IS that kind of mistake! What happened to Lynn has to do with that therapist's values! And those values are opposed to all that healthy therapy is about! Any therapist that tells a victim anything that that translates to "now you know you're a victim, put it behind you and move on" isn't worth his/her weight in salt! Useless comes to mind for me.

All of the books, all of the conferences, all of the experts teach that a victim needs to deal with those feelings, NOT STUFF THEM! The very thought that this so called therapist suggested that she take drugs to just get it gone makes me want to scream. This is NOT therapeutic advice! It is destructive! It is toxic! It is so polluted with his own issues that there is no way it can be helpful!

I have been incensed by the inappropriateness of her therapist's response to Lynn. Then to see her comment on how she has protected herself even more because of his treatment, just infuriates me. Victims have a hard enough time healing without being victimized by their therapists!! Lynn's response to this treatment is typical victim behavior. She was victimized again and she's going to protect herself.

That is what happened to Lynn. She took the risk. Trusted the therapist with her deep dark secrets. He set her up wearing his therapist mask, promising to give her special care because of the circumstances. Then he pulled the rug right out from underneath her. Instead of giving her the support he promised, he punished her for trusting him. In that brief instant he dropped his mask and showed her his true colors. He showed her the unfeeling person that he really is. He humiliated her and he made her feel even more damaged than she already felt. He basically told her that her feelings were unimportant and that she was somehow crazy because she couldn't put it behind her.

With her history there was absolutely nothing unusual about the issues Lynn was experiencing. Triggering off of current things in her life, I think ALL of us victims do that! And we heal from it if some one caring helps us through those experiences. But to have a "fake" therapist do what Lynn's did, would be like a surgeon cutting you open and then just walking off and going home. The surgeon would get sued! This therapist is just as guilty of malpractice as any surgeon would be!

The therapeutic relationship has been so compromised by his inappropriate behavior, there is no way that Lynn can heal under his care. She has that "little voice" that he added screaming in the back of her head somewhere. If he really were concerned about Lynn and taking responsibility for his error, I think he would have found her a good replacement therapist so that Lynn had some chance of healing from what HE did to her and her other issues.

The very fact he thinks an apology can "fix" his transgression, tells me that he knows nothing about victims and what is healthy treatment for them. If he doesn't understand that he is not qualified to be treating Lynn or any other victim. My guess is Lynn is not the only one who has been damaged by this man.

Obviously I cannot fix this for Lynn but I can bring the subject up here and open it up for discussion. Victims being damaged by incompetent therapists is much too common. The only way that victims are going to know what is inappropriate behavior for a therapist is for situations just like this to be discussed. There is a fine line between being hooked by our own issues and being treated badly by a professional. I believe this situation is a clear case of the latter. Lynn's therapist really blew it. And Lynn is paying the price.


Kahless said...

When I left my last therapist after seeing him for a year, what made me hesitant was that I thought I was going to lose the investment of that time and have to start talking everything over again from scratch. I wondered whether I could find someone to trust.

I was wrong.

I found someone who genuinely cares and for me, that is really important. I ended up opening up to them relatively quickly. And I ended up wishing I had moved sooner. My last therapist was poor. My current one is good.

Lily Strange said...

Competent therapists seem, sadly to be, altogether uncommon. And medical personnel in general are even less competent when it comes to dealing with mental problems. A friend recently ended up in the ER after slitting her wrist. Of course the doctors and nurses all treated her like dirt. I've had fellow medical personnel say things like ""those people" annoy me so much. They should just do it right and do everyone a big favor."
These people need to pull their heads out of their ignorant backsides. Until you've walked a mile in their shoes, quit judging.

Lynn said...

I've read this a few times now, RR, and have had a hard time knowing what to say. The last couple of days have been hard for me with this thing. As horrible as it is, what he did, I want to work this out if it is possible. If it can't be worked out, I need some kind of resolution before moving on. I have no idea what happened to him that day. He had never treated me like that before or since. He has really made so many special accommodations for me since that incident a year and a half ago... I think that is why it was so hard for me to be able to finally feel that old thing after I began to work through the worst of the rape. And yet... I think the way he has treated me since is also why it was finally safe to, if you know what I mean. Even so, looking at this is hard. It is so different from the norm with him that it boggles my mind and scares me a lot. The worry that it could happen again is what scares me the most. It also reminds me of my parents. That can't be good. Though there have been many, many scary and intense times for me since, he has been supportive through them. There were a few very bad times when his help was the only thing keeping me going and helping me keep hope and faith in myself. The problem with this is, after the incident, I only let him help me after I would shoo him away so I could remember alone. I didn't know why at the time, but I used to pick fights with him when I began to remember things. But there are some memories I can't face alone. They are the things I'm sitting on now. I guess I worry somewhere in the back of my mind, that he might do it again and I need to hash this out with him. You know what scares me more than anything? I can picture this happening with a new therapist, too. All people are only human and not to be nasty or anything, but I don't have a high opinion of most humans in general. Also, I don't think most therapists are used to dealing with problems like mine. They might say they can handle trauma, but what will they really do when someone completely loses it in front of them? What would happen to me if I was hit with a memory that rocked me to my core? I would be at someone else's mercy. Someone who may not be used to the horrible meltdown... What would they do then in the thick of it? Have my children taken away? Have me locked up? Did I ever tell you that my mother is the craziest shrink ever? When I was a teenager and I would have panic attacks or start shaking or screaming and crying because of my father's abuse and the horrible level of fear, she would tell me that I was crazy and threaten to have me institutionalized. I'm not sure I can find a new therapist, and if I did, it probably couldn't be a woman. However, I can and will stop seeing this one if he cannot tell me that he will not do anything like this again. I know this comment is all over the place and a bit contradictory. If it doesn't make much sense on the whole of it, it's because I'm pretty much a mess right now. Thank you, RR, for being angry on my behalf. It was wrong and hurtful what he did. I was angry, too, for a long time. I would lash out at him for anything I could and I never really knew why. There was even an appointment where when he asked me what I wanted to talk about, I said we should talk about why he's an asshole. I had no idea why I was really so angry with him. Now we both know.

wolf said...

Im going off the path a bit but not to far. When you see a therapist and have been dx with something like PTSD or some such and you see other doctors and they ask and your honest then they end up blaming all your problems on that instead of seaking an answer to what is really going on.. it's an endless game of your being punished over and over for something you had no control over. I guess my point is it's not just therapist that do damage like that. it's regular docs to. im sorry to gripe here about it but i have been having this problem lately. because the problem dosn't seem to have an obvious answer the doc just says ohh it's the PTSD. talk to your T. she has no idea what stage of healing im at. and yet she makes an asumption.

sorry i'll stop now.

Tiger Lamb Girl said...

It occurred to me that it's possible that some therapists are satanists, who, when they see a victim/pawn for therapy - employ techniques like this to further the confusion and hinder any process or progress in healing.

I know this post is older now, but I'm reading through your archives...and this jumped out at me;).

Thanks for sharing your experiences via your blog.
God bless! xo