T O P I C ††† R E V I E W
Member # 95641
posted 07-17-2012 06:50 PM
I'm not so sure where to put this, so I'll put it here, where I've been writing past experiences. I seem to have a lot of problems with therapists, which leads me to believe that a good therapist is very difficult to find. Itís depressing. The first therapist I went to talked about herself a lot and yelled at me everytime. She told me to ĎíLET IT GO!íí, about hard stuff I had never discussed with her, or anyone, before. I find that really strange. When I think about it, I get really upset. The second therapist was just waiting for me to talk about stuff. Never asking questions or anything. Just sitting there waiting for me to lead the whole thing. I realise that this might work for some people, but it just seems awkward and stressful to me. And most of the time, I felt like an idiot who was wasting both our time. The third one was the best of the three. Most of the time she was really great and I felt like I could discuss everything with her. But sometimes, she would say things that would be very triggering to me. We were discussing sex once and I was telling her how difficult, and almost impossible it was for me, at that moment, to have or consider sexual intercourse. Because of past abuse, thinking about sex made me sick and made me feel like I was an object. She didnít yell at me or anything but she said stuff like: ĎíWell sex IS supposed to be fun. Touching a penis IS fun. During sex, you are and you WANT to be an object of desire.íí I was like, yeah, I know sex is supposed to be fun, why do you think Iím here for? I didnít say anything though. But it made me feel bad. Really bad. It made me think of past behaviors, from others and myself: Ďí Youíre supposed to love sex, youíre supposed to want to have sex.íí And IíM just sick of people telling me what Iím supposed to like. Once she said that I was wrong to be mad at my mother (for something really serious, I couldnít believe sheíd said that.) I wrote her a letter, telling her that I disagreed with her and gave it to her to read the next meeting. She said she was wrong and that she didnít want to hurt me. So it was fine. But then, at the last meeting, which was last Tuesday, I told her that I wanted to press charge against m ex-boyfriend and gave her a sheet of paper on which I had written what had happened. And hereís what went wrong for me. She said that it was a hard case to defend, almost impossible. Which, in itself, is maddening, but itís not her fault of the system refuses to see cases like that, right? It doesnít mean that this guy did not abuse me, or that he was right, etc. Etc. I understand. But instead of telling me so, and why, she started asking questions like: ĎíYou were 16, you werenít so naive! What did you think would happen?íí She said a few times that this was not her own personal opinion, that she was just telling me about court. But for a few minutes, I really did feel that SHE was saying how naive I was for having a boyfriend while not being ready for sexual intercourse, and how it was necessarily going to happen if I was going to go to his place while his parents were gone... I felt really bad... And, I really need some feedback, and some support on this. I feel down and a bit depressed... Thank you.
Member # 3
posted 07-17-2012 07:22 PM
No kidding you've had trouble with therapists! I'm so sorry to hear all of this.
I'd say that this is probably mostly a case of plain old rotten luck, especially if you did go through a screening process with all three of these and liked them in that first meeting, felt what they said about their approach sounded good to you, and laid out what you wanted to do and they signed on. If you didn't do those screenings, part of the deal is that you do tend to have to do that stuff, or else it's way more likely to have this kind of rotten luck. That doesn't make any of this your fault, mind. Ideally, if a potential patient doesn't talk about all that in a first visit, the therapist certainly should. That all said, how are you feeling about this last one now? Do you want to go back? If so, have you discussed with her what you have said here since that last letter? If not, do you feel able to do that so you can see if this can be resolved or not to make a choice moving forward?
Member # 95641
posted 07-18-2012 07:21 PM
Thank you very much for your reply. I did go through a screening process and I decided not to go on with certain therapists, whom I met with once. As for the therapists I talked of above, I did go through a screening process, at least with the first one and the third one. The first one really understood my obsessive-compulsive disorder and it made me feel reassured and more confident. I was afraid no one would understand, thatís what made me stay. I guess my screening process wasnít that good, since she told me, from the first meeting, that her goal was to see her patients leave as soon as possible... which feels very wrong to me, but I was so dependant and scared... so, yes. The second one wasnít the one who did my evaluation and explain the whole thing to me, so it was hard to tell. As for the therapist herself, at first she seemed fine. But, yes. I guess itís always the same thing. At first she seems fine but then... The last one started out so perfectly, Iím really grieved to see it end. I feel betrayed somehow. She gave me a document which explained exactly what kind of therapy she was suggesting. Talking, basically. It was perfect for me, I just needed a space where I could talk freely and not be judged... It was great, most of the time. And about telling her about what I wrote here... I was actually trying to do that during our last meeting. This whole debacle started because I asked her what she meant when she asked me if I considered forcing someone to undress as sexual violence. Hereís what happened: I told her I wanted to press charge against my ex-boyfriend, who forced me to undress in front of him. Then she asked me if I considered that as sexual violence. I was seriously wondering how it could NOT be considered sexual violence. I was really hurt. Whatever she was trying to say, she could have said it differently. As if it was not necessarily abuse. So not helping the person whoís afraid to say sheís been sexually assaulted. A couple of meetings later, I asked her what she had meant by that, because I was disturbed by it. She said that I would have to prove that he forced me. Did he use a gun? Did he tie me down? And I was trying to tell her that he manipulated me (He tried to have sexual intercourse after I told him I didnít want to. I told him to stop, he got really mad and told me I was mean. Then he started crying, apologized and undressed me while I stood there confused and afraid. I did nothing. He just undressed me even after I said no...) and that using weapons and physical strength was not the only way to force someone to do something. She was very energetic in telling me that I was naive for going to him in the first place... And then she said that this wasnít her opinion and everything... But the whole thing just felt so harsh and heartbreaking. If court doesnít take manipulation into account, just tell me so. Donít suggest that Iím naive and responsible for what happened... I think she handled it completely wrong... So, I was a little disheartened by this endeavour to clarify things and tell her that she hurt me... I seriously cannot see myself going back there... I just feel like the trust is gone, you know? But everything was going so well at the beginning... What happened? Iím starting to fear that I might be the problem. Do I make therapists angry? I know deep down that I donít have a problem, I was never disrespectful. But I canít help being worried and depressed about it. And I really donít want to go to yet another therapist and tell her the whole story again and risk having yet another bad experience... Why canít the first therapists who seem great just stay that way? Are there that many inadequate therapists? Is that possible? I know that therapists are humans but my god... To me, their mistakes seem huge... I find it really, really hard not to have support from my THERAPIST! Itís making me lose faith in all therapists... Thank you. It's great to be able to talk here.
Member # 3
posted 07-18-2012 07:26 PM
I can certainly understand if you feel unable to go back to that therapist or just plain don't want to. Honestly, to me, it sounds like she's SERIOUSLY lacking in education about dealing with survivors of any kind of sexual trauma. sadly, a lot of people are, and plenty also don't know when to shut the hell up and refer someone out to someone who DOES have that education/training.
I REALLY would not put this onto you. And yes: when therapists do poorly, it can be a really bad thing because the people they are serving are in a position of great vulnerability. So, I don't think you're making this bigger than it is, either. This is big stuff. You know, with this situation specifically -- this sexual trauma -- I or the volunteers here would certainly be willing to talk it through with you. Obviously, we're not therapists, so therapy isn't something we can do, but we CAN counsel around this specifically and do know how to do it. Alternately, I'd be happy to help you find services near you for in-person counseling with sexual trauma.
Member # 95641
posted 07-18-2012 08:29 PM
This reply made me happy. About her lacking certain things, this being big stuff, etc. All of it. I am not going to go back. I made up my mind. And I would be really happy to discuss everything here, I already did twice and it did so much good. I feel like Iím so much better already. This web site is a wonderful thing, really. Itís like a refugee. I called a hotline the other day and the very nice girl gave me two phone numbers for places that may be organizing support groups and things like that. I will definitely check it out. I would be happy to benefit from your help also. Iím Canadian, I live near Montreal. I donít know if thatís going to be a problem? Again, thank you very much! Bless Scarleteen. (Iím intense I know. But I mean it.)
Member # 79774
posted 07-18-2012 08:39 PM
Hi Jemima, just wanted to say that I've had difficulties with therapists too (though in different circumstances to you) and I totally, totally get how that can make a person feel a bit rubbish, or unsure, or like "it's me". Not that you need my opinion too, but I agree with Heather about the last therapist. However she may have meant it, I'm sorry she said those things to you. Good for you for having the strength to go in search of help better suited to your needs.
Member # 95641
posted 07-18-2012 08:43 PM
I'm happy to have your opinion too. And thank you for your kind words. I'm sorry that you had to go through hard stuff with therapists too. I find it reassuring to have people understanding what I feel though. I used to think that therapists were pratically magical... It seems like it's a lot more complicated than that.
Member # 79774
posted 07-18-2012 09:02 PM
Thanks, Jemima. And I did want you to know that it wasn't just you who'd had a difficult experience with it.
It is more complicated than that (not that I'm an expert ). First of all, there's various very different therapy methods, not all of which will suit all people and all issues. Secondly, a qualified therapist will have a lot of training in how to do the therapies they provide, how to respond to different people, different issues, different responses. Thirdly, therapists often specialise, or at least have more expertise, in some issues than others; one example of that might be that a therapist might be really good as a therapist, but if they're not specially trained in and aware of sexual assault issues, they're likely to not serve someone very well no matter how good they are otherwise. Fourthly, an important part of therapy is the interpersonal relationship between client and therapist - therapists (should) know how to make this work as best as possible, but sometimes people, like any people on the planet, just won't gel, will have too different approaches to the world or too little common ground. I think that the effect of a really good therapist can sometimes Feel magical... but even so, if we're getting somewhere, it's because we're facing and tackling the difficult stuff ourselves while in therapy. And I think that it's also more likely to feel like more of a tiring, frustrating slog more often than it feels magical. But I think that particularly for something like sexual trauma, the rewards of doing the hard work through it make it very worthwhile.
Member # 95641
posted 07-22-2012 01:22 PM
Redskies, thank you so much for letting me know that I'm not alone in this! I agree with you about therapists. The infuriating is, I DID call a professional order to have them refer to me someone who SPECIFICALLY dealed with these cases, someone who was trained to help victims of sexual abuse. And they gave me her number, along with a two others, but it seemed to work with her, so... Considering that, her behavior is nothing short of incomprehensible to me. Itís actually bigger than I first thought it. As mentioned above, I feel betrayed, almost abandoned... Iím beginning to feel that my own personal work and ideas of therapies might be much, much better than working with ANY therapists... The thing is, they know how to ask the right questions, and might make you notice or realise things you wouldnít have considered, but that are actually very important... But I feel that friends and places like Scarleteen might be best. I agree when you say that the hard work in therapy is very worth it and very rewarding. I want to be completely healed, I just donít want to feel like I have to defend myself in front of my therapist, you know? I was wondering if people here at Scarleteen had any good experiences with therapists and might be willing to talk about it? Thank you!
Member # 79774
posted 07-22-2012 06:09 PM
Sounds like you might just have had the misfortune of a bad apple there, then.
I think that it's usually very important to have someone in a professional capacity who we can talk to when we're working through things like this. Friends can be so, so important, but it's a little different. We need to have somebody who we can say whatever we need to without any worries about how it might affect them or our relationship with them. The one professional talky person I've had a good experience with was actually the counsellor I had specifically for my childhood abuse. She was training specifically as a counsellor rather than as a psychologist or psychotherapist or anything like that, and she had at least some specialism in abuse issues. The organisation I was with was specifically for young people - I was a teen at the time - and did person-centred counselling; that is, counselling led by the client, what the client needed to talk about, reflecting back to the client what the client was saying, helping the client to work through what the client was thinking and feeling. Suggestions from the counsellor were ok when the client asked or seemed stuck. To me, at least, it felt very much about me being able to share what I needed to, work through things at my own pace, find healing, rather than "treatment" or "correcting anything that was wrong with me". I thought that counsellor was excellent: it obviously took her a little time to grasp my analytical and precise way of thinking and expressing myself, but she was always on board with doing that and never suggested I should be any different. She was great when I turned up extremely depressed and barely able to communicate, she was great at hearing everything I needed to say and reflecting it back with understanding and empathy, and great at putting little bits of information or suggestions about how abuse impacts generally and how people often respond in at times where that was helpful to me and gave me ways of understanding more solidly.
Member # 20094
posted 07-22-2012 08:41 PM
(Jemima7777, you and Redskies are having a really great conversation here, and I don't want to interrupt that, but if you'd like to hear more about good experiences with therapists, happy to jump in.)
Member # 91788
posted 07-23-2012 04:09 PM
My current therapist has been wonderfully supportive and helpful for the entire 1.5 years that I've been seeing her. The trait I like the most about her is that she always organizes the session and her advice based on what I need, not on what she perceives I need, not on what the typical "textbook example" dictates abuse survivors should need, but on what I need. For instance, I can come into a session and basically spill all of the tough stuff that has happened over the past week from the onset. She would sit and listen for as long as I need to talk. I love that she treats me like a human being with individual needs and experience, not as a "cookie cutter" stereotypical flat character. And she tailors the activities we do around my strengths and interests. For example, we do quite a bit of art therapy because I love art. And when she discovers a new interest/talent of mine, she will proceed to add it as part of my treatment. That keeps me very much engaged throughout.
Member # 95641
posted 07-23-2012 08:29 PM
Redskies, thank you for sharing this great experience. I'm glad you had this counsellor to help you throughout your healing process and that she turned out to be so competent. I agree about the importance of a neutral environment. But it seems that when I talked to past therapists about things that were triggering to me at the time (or just anything they didn't like to hear about, it seems) I got either yelled at or judged... So I think I'm gonna wait for a while before I get involved in any other kind of professionnal therapy. Just hearing about your positive experience is a bit of a relief. So good experiences happen. Karybu, yes we are having a great conversation but I would be happy to have you jump in! PLease do and tell us about positive experiences with therapists! Sans, Wow, that is great!! I'm so happy that you have that!! Truly! It's a bit sad to see that these ridiculous experiences were just bad luck. But I'm hopeful, seeing how great you seem to be doing in therapy!