BAD THERAPY? A DISGRUNTLED EX-PSYCHOTHERAPY CLIENT SPEAKS HER PIECE

Valuable perspective from the client’s side. Can’t agree with everything that’s written here, but I count description of six significant ethics violation. Wish Disequilibrium1 knew how many ethical, competent therapists already follow her seven suggestions.

Disequilibrium1's Blog

In blogs and book reviews, I see reference by therapy professionals to the “disgruntled ex-client.”  I assume this label is pejorative and the classification perhaps is to warn therapists to create a strong filter when one hovers nearby.

So here’s my warning label: I’m a disgruntled ex-client.  My therapy mostly was harmful.   Before I’m tuned out, I hope some therapists may consider listening as I speak my piece, so they might find fewer like me at large.

I entered therapy hoping to broaden my social life and to confirm my suspicion that my typical family—wasn’t.  I never was in crisis.  My past persona was far too obliging and obeisant to authority, but not unlike a significant population percentage.  Pre-therapy I had friends, a job, occasional dates and was reasonably cheerful.  My total tally in treatment (I hate that word) was just under three years with different clinicians in different formats.

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33 Comments

Filed under Diagnosis, The Client's Side

33 responses to “BAD THERAPY? A DISGRUNTLED EX-PSYCHOTHERAPY CLIENT SPEAKS HER PIECE

  1. It is very sad to read what she has written and then to see 538 comments following below. She is a great writer I will give her that but I am lucky to get one comment after my posts. I think that when people see a bad “doctor” they assume they all are. Once you have your mind made up that they will be a certain way, they are. If you want to learn and grow, you put yourself out there and ask the Gods for a teacher, and then one will be shown to you.

    • Re: “If you want to learn and grow, you put yourself out there and ask the Gods for a teacher, and then one will be shown to you.”
      Are you kidding?! This statement of yours is an excellent example of MANY of the complaints clients of therapists have made on Disequilibrium’s blog.
      1. You, the ‘therapist’ are far superior to the ‘lowly client’, as you are telling us the ‘way’ to learn and grow. Your opinion ‘must be obeyed; you have all the answers’, etc.
      2. You blame the victim, pure and simple. It is OUR fault, that we do not have a good therapist. You NEVER say ONE word re: how the therapist could be at fault. So Typical.
      3. Silly simple ‘fix-its’ – all we troubled clients have to do is ‘ask the Gods’ for a teacher, and the teacher will simply be sent to us. Are You Kidding?? So many of us have been searching for a decent therapist (I did it for years, then quit). What you are saying is akin to putting your ‘tooth’ under your pillow at night, so that the tooth fairy can replace it with some money. That does work, when you are a young child and have parents who play the tooth fairy.
      You should open your eyes, and see that many of us have been abused by therapists; just read the blog. And stop blaming the victims.

  2. Though I appreciate the compliment on my writing, I feel I’ve utterly failed to communicate my viewpoint in this corner. I never intended the blog as a universal indictment of the ethics or competencies of mental health professionals nor recall anywhere making such a fatuous statement.

    I wrote a first person narrative to explore the larger paradigm of the therapeutic relationship and to explain why was harmful to me personally. For example, I would receive “lessons” such as “if you want to learn and grow….” as condescension. Delivering or receiving life “lessons” is a delicate thing.

    I noted when someone questions the therapeutic process how the discussion deflects sometimes to an examination of “the messenger.” Far more prominent critics than I have reported that.

  3. I’d like to add that having participated in many discussions on the flaws and the constructive aspects of the mental health system in general and “talk therapy” in particular, I’ve noticed one general trait in all of them and that is a misperception of what the other party is trying to communicate. It’s often seems to me that people on each side of the debate have the ability to see something real that the other party is unable or unwilling to see and, therefore, they both can contribute into improving things if they set their intentions on trying to understand each other as opposed to “prove” the other party wrong. Unfortunately, most of the time, the opposite happens when people argue only to affirm and re-affirm their view on the issue instead of trying to discover the truth together. Also, unfotunately, that doesn’t just apply to psychotherapy/mental health issues but to everything else. Just look at what’s going on in our politics where no one is concerned about solving problems, but everyone is just trying to prove the opponent wrong for their own political gain.

    In this particular case, it’s clear to me that the point that Dsiequilibrium1 was trying to convey in her essay was completely missed. I didn’t get the message from her story that “all doctors” were bad. I understood it as her desire to highlight some deep systemic flaws in psychotherapy training, which I think was done very well. How balanced and objective her observations and how valid her conclusions based on those observations were is a completely different story. Those could be argued. But if someone wants to make a valid argument, they have to argue what was actually said instead of what they THOUGHT was said. I know how irritating it feels when someone accuses you in something you have never done or said because that was done to me. A few times I received comments to my articles attacking and criticizing me for writing something that was NOT in the article. From reading those comments it became evident to me that those people didn’t even bother to read my articles completely or at all. It looked as though they saw a phrase or a word that triggered them for whatever reason and just went off ranting their anger at whatever their wild fantasy created, which had nothing to do with what I had said. I didn’t bother to explain anything to them because they clearly were committed to think whatever they wanted to think regardless of what I would say. I simply referred them back to the article and suggested to read it again and to make sure they understood what they read before commenting.

    And, of course, when someone tries to take on a role of a preacher and pretends to know the way God/Gods operate, I don’t consider it a mature constructive discussion and, plus, this arrogance is quite unappealing. At this point, I don’t take this kind of attitude personally. I just disengage.

    If some of the readers of this blog want to discuss this and any related issues further with me, you can contact me at info@therapyconsumerguide.com and also feel free to visit my website http://www.therapyconsumerguide.com. Before you contact me though, please, keep in mind that I am more than happy to engage in a thoughtful, mindful and meaningful discussion only if the other person wants to arrive to the place of mutual understanding. I don’t argue for the sake of arguing. It’s a waste of time and my life is too precious to me to waste it on meaningless exchanges of words.

    • Thanks for speaking up, WiseMonkey. I can sympathize with you on the topic of being misunderstood – I added my “Wish Disequilibrium1 knew…” comment because I was impressed how closely her suggestions matched recommendations I’ve read for effective and ethical treatment. She seemed to think I thought she thought all therapists were bad, and maybe that I was attacking her for this. Her opinion on all therapists hadn’t crossed my mind – one bad therapist is too many.

  4. This is a response to “I count description of six significant ethics violation. Wish Disequilibrium1 knew how many ethical, competent therapists already follow her seven suggestions.”
    THis is a VERY good point. So – just how many are out there?
    The truth is that neither you, nor I or ANYONE else will ever know. I wrote about this on Disequilibrium1’s blog. In a therapy session, there are ONLY two people in the room. That’s it. If you ‘hear’ about a therapy session from a poor therapist, what do you think that therapist will tell you? Well, certainly not about how they were not a good therapist. For example, have you EVER heard a therapist tell you that a client was disgruntled with the therapist, and that THE CLIENT HAD A POINT!!!??? Have you ever heard a therapist tell you any of the following: that he screamed at the client throughout the session; that he refused to speak to the client during the session, instead telling the client that he couldn’t do so, BECAUSE the client had ‘so much going on’; that he took up at least 1/2 the time of the session, telling the client all about the THERAPIST”S own problems; that when a client told him that she was not sure if she wanted another child, that he ‘lectured’ the client that she should not, never asking her about what her issues were, or listening to her at all; that even though the following was not a TOPIC being discussed by the client, that he told the client his problems with his own wife, calling the wife an anti-Semitic name, and when the client told him she herself was Jewish, he just said “Well, that’s what she is”.
    I could go on and on; this are simply a few of the encounters I have had with poor therapists. I am NOT saying that ALL therapists are bad, by any means. I am simply pointing out that NO ONE but the client and therapist truly know whether a particular therapist is ‘ethical and competent’. Neither you, nor I, can truthfully say the % of therapists who are.

    • Resharpen –

      I appreciate your comments. There isn’t enough two-way communication between therapists and clients. I use Scott D. Miller’s Session Rating Scale, so clients can tell me exactly how I’m doing on issues like listening / understanding / respecting, sticking to the topics they want to discuss, how well what I do fits their needs, etc. Plenty of therapists don’t ask for feedback at all. That makes them less-effective (or ineffective!) therapists. You had three questions:

      1. How many ethical, competent therapists are out there? You’re right – we don’t know. It’s less than 100%, and that’s a problem.

      2. Have I heard therapists tell clients they had a point in their complaints? I’ve heard myself say that to my clients. In many seminars I’ve attended, there’s been time spent on how to elicit clients’ concerns and respond to complaints in a validating way. Your therapists didn’t do this, and they should have.

      3. Have I heard a therapist scream at a client, fail to ask what their concerns were, talk about their own problems for much of the session, tell a client they were wrong about ambivalent feelings, and use anti-Semitic slurs? I haven’t and I’m appalled that you have. It’s been drilled in my head: the therapist does not use the session to talk about the therapist’s problems; the therapist allows (or requires) the client to direct therapy; the therapist always uses non-judgmental, inclusive language; the therapist does not accept clients that “have too much going on” (AKA – I’m not competent to treat); and that if the therapist can’t speak calmly to a client, the therapist refers them to a someone who can.

      You’ve described serious ethics violations. Every U.S. state has a licensure board, and their job is to protect the client, not the therapist. As far as I know, there is no statute of limitations on making reports. If you would like help filing a complaint, please let me know how to get in touch.

      • Thank you for your comments. I can see that you are a caring, ethical therapist.
        For the record, the true scenarios which I wrote about, and which you commented on, did occur to me, BY DIFFERENT INDIVIDUAL THERAPISTS. And, these are only a ‘sample’ of what I have experienced. Yes – I could write a book.
        Your ‘answer’ was that I should file a complaint against these therapists with the state licensing board. Well, this is one area I happen to know a lot about. Do you know much about the REASONS they will discipline therapists?
        FOR 10 YEARS, I WORKED AT THE LICENSING BOARD IN ILLINOIS. I am a lawyer, and my jobs included attending all the disciplinary hearings, and also working with the boards in drafting their decisions re: discipline.
        Granted my job ended there over 12 years ago. BUT I am still in touch with co-workers.
        THE PSYCHOLOGY BOARD WOULD VERY RARELY, IF AT ALL, DISCIPLINE A LICENSED PSYCHOLOGIST FOR ANY PURE ‘ETHICAL’ VIOLATION, EXCEPT IF A PSYCHOLOGIST SLEPT WITH A CLIENT.
        To be fair, in my last few years there, a Board was created to discipline ‘counselors, psychotherapists’, etc. – non-psychologists who did therapy. During my time there, the Board was too new to have disciplinary cases.
        IMPORTANT: Have you read our blog dated 5/12/13, where Disequilibrium1 explained to me that the Board REFUSED to discipline her awful ex-therapist? The therapist explained away his behavior using ‘therapy lingo’, blaming the client, and the Board believed him, of course.
        One example: during my time at the Licensing Board, a client filed a complaint against her psychologist; he had been extremely cruel to her in therapy, and, among other things, ordered her to ‘fix herself up, put on makeup, and dress a lot better’, if she ever wanted to get a relationship with a man. What happened to her complaint? Nothing. The Board did NOTHING. No discipline, nada. They could have made a written decision and put him on probation; and/or made him take classes, etc., emphasizing what you said – that he must be decent to his clients. Or that he be supervised by a decent therapist. But no – just dismissed the complaint.
        You are right in that THEORETICALLY, in the written rules for Discipline, a therapist may be disciplined for ‘ethical violations’. But, what REALLY happens when the Board hears a complaint is far, far different.
        BTW, interestingly enough, I recently tried to do research re: what complaints and discipline the California Board has imposed on therapists. (I now live in California). What a shocker! The Board lists the names of therapists/psychologists who have been disciplined, but there is no mention of the actual charges/complaints against the treator. THe web site instructs that if one wishes to know the ‘details’ of the charges, etc., that one MUST write to the Board, the Board will then mail the details to him/her, and THAT IT WILL COST A FEE. Wow – that makes it REAL easy to find out the truth, doesn’t it???

      • ReSharpen –

        Wow, wow, wow, wow. I’m surprised to hear standards could be that loose in any state. Here in Ohio, you can check therapists’ discipline history on-line and see .pdfs of the adjudication order. I would have thought probation and sensitivity classes would be the minimum a therapist would get for treating a client the way you’ve described.

        I haven’t read Disequilibrium1’s entire blog – I need a year off from everything to catch up on my reading as it is. I hope your group will organize to pressure state boards and elected officials for more-aggressive enforcement of ethical standards and more-open disclosure of actions taken against therapists. National Rifle Association members take the time to write their representatives, and their effectiveness is clear.

      • Jonathan, years ago I was in touch with a Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter who wrote a multi-part article about ethical complaints. If I recall correctly, he found an infinitesimal fraction of grievances of state mental health grievances result in disciplinary action and almost none in the “failure to refer” category.

        Nationally, even when the offense is quite egregious, the consequences are relatively minor, as in this Connecticut case:
        http://articles.courant.com/2009-11-17/news/09111712259225_1_license-patient-affair

        The complaint process itself can be dreadful for clients. Our confidential sessions are burst open as state public record, and the therapist often makes us sound like a raving lunatic in order to defend himself.

      • Jonthan,

        I’d like to echo Disequilibrium’s reply and say that her experience with the therapists who did everything right according to the standard practice was my experience as well. At least one of my therapists honestly and genuinely was trying to help me and followed all the standard suggestions of his specific modality. He was an ethical person and an ethical professional, and yet his methods hurt me more than they helped me. I was unable to discuss it with him. He wasn’t receptive to my requests to re-think his methods because he sincerely believed that the methods were just fine and that the whole problem was my transference. I have no problem honestly admitting that my transference manifested itself in the process, but I also believe that it was not the ONLY thing that was manifested. I am confident that the methods he used greatly contributed into his inability to see my struggles accurately and to help me.

        As I said, he was a nice person and certainly didn’t have any intention of putting me down or hurting me otherwise. He was respectful and empathic as a person, but his blind faith in what his training had taught him made him ignorant of the role he was playing in the process and of how his way of seeing me and my situation was affecting me. As a result, he was not willing to take responsibility for his part of the work, which was the most painful part of the experience for me because that just contributed into my not feeling great about myself.

        I am happy to report that, as a result of the healing work I have done on my own, I’ve distanced myself enough from that and other experiences to be able to look at them from all angles and to appreciate their complexity and their contribution into my personal growth. All my life experiences, harmful or pleasant, in therapy or out of therapy, made me who I am today and so I am grateful to all of them. I think that is what maturity feels like.

  5. Jonathan, my comment actually was addressed to jkveigh, not to you. It’s clear to me that your interaction with Disequilibrium1 was a miscommunication. It’s also important to remember that online communications are often confusing as there is no way for us to see the non-verbal expressions of the other person.

  6. Jonathan, I wrote the blog as an exploration how even “ethical” therapy can harm clients through its asymmetrical, unnatural framework and self-rumination. Vulnerable clients, unrealistic expectations and a non-egalitarian relationship can be a bad brew.

    On the asymmetry:
    I’ve believe universally that superiority/subordination between humans and other species can be established many subtle ways, be it in the herd, the consulting room or ladies-at-lunch. jkvegh’s summation “I think that when people see a bad “doctor” they assume they all are. Once you have your mind made up that they will be a certain way, they are,” seems to imply he’s evaluating me. Likewise “If you want to learn and grow, you put yourself out there and ask the Gods for a teacher, and then one will be shown to you,” feels to me like high-handed zen master schtick.

    If I were naive, vulnerable and my practitioner donned a zen master robe, it would present quite a conflict. Jkvegh gives no evidence he reacts to what I actually discussed.

    I state ad nauseum in my blog I’m not an authority and only speak from personal observation. I’ve observed from readings and personal interactions a trend toward condescension in the mental health profession. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems many explorations our 500+ posts are barely touched upon by the profession. And I’ve seen the few deconstructionists within the profession virtually shredded by their colleagues.

    • On the subject of deconstructionists I have to say Disequilibrium1 that this is yet another correct observation you’ve made. I am a living testament of that, as I have been shunned and outcased by ALL my colleagues though not necessarily shredded, at least not yet. But for the sake of fairness, I also have to say that I was equally badly treated by the survivors of harmful therapy only because I refused to join the “club” and agree with everything that was said in their groups and forums. So, I’ve been an object of attacks from both sides, which tells me that I am, probably, doing something right. Some of the survivors really tried to shred me into pieces (not that they were able to) because they believed I was “blaming the victims”, taking the side of professionals and so on and so forth. As I said, at this point, I am not trying to re-assure anyone that they completely misunderstood my intentions, as I’ve realized that people will believe whatever they want to believe about you no matter what you say or do. I can choose my intentions, but I cannot chosse or control how my words or actions will be perceived by others. If someone truly wants to understand me they will, and if they don’t want to, there is nothing I can do about it.

      • WiseMonkey, I think you make some observant points about the tendency to become defensive and argue rather than listen to each other and problem solve.

        It’s an interesting puzzle piece that clients and therapists have so much “to protect” around the harmful therapy topic.

  7. It is an interesting puzzle piece indeed but a difficult one to explore because, I believe, it touches some very sensitive spots in people on both sides. If we want to be able to explore what these sensitivities are and why they need to be protected, the only way to do so is with the intention to listen and to understand, not to judge. I don’t believe any discussion that doesn’t serve the purpose of mutual understanding will ever serve any constructive purpose.

  8. anon

    Mutual listening, learning, and understanding is indeed valuable. One of the problems with those on the practitioner “side,” however, is that they are taking precious time and money from vulnerable clients — and harming some along the way — while engaging in this process. I believe these issues being explored on Disequilibrium1′s blog needed to be sorted out *before* being tried out on the public. As things stand now, there may be too much collateral damage to make the practice justifiable.

  9. If the major question about justification of psychotherapy is already answered then there is nothig to discuss.

  10. anon

    Oh my, this is a good illustration of a misunderstanding in online communications. I actually made a typo and meant to say that the issues explored on Disequilibrium1’s blog *need* (present tense) to be sorted out, or ought to be understood and remedied, before subjecting the public to poorly understood risks. It’s a claim about the order of operations: First establish the validity and justification for engaging in the practice despite the risk of harm. Then, if it passes scientific and ethical standards such that it’s determined that the benefits outweigh the risks, that there are no safer alternatives, and that it’s worth harming a certain percentage of clients, then proceed. As things stand *now,* given the current lack of scientific and ethical standards in the field, and given that many people are harmed in therapy, the practice of therapy may not be justified. In order to get there, more work needs to done.

    The burden of proof lies with she who asserts a positive. In this case, the burden of proof lies with she who asserts that therapy is justified despite the collateral damage, not with its critics. People cannot be expected to prove the null hypothesis, or to show that something does *not* work or is *not* the case.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophic_burden_of_proof

    http://www.qcc.cuny.edu/socialsciences/ppecorino/phil_of_religion_text/CHAPTER_5_ARGUMENTS_EXPERIENCE/Burden-of-Proof.htm

    The thing that differentiates the therapists’ and survivors’ side is that the therapists are taking precious time and money from vulnerable clients, and harming some along the way, while the important issues on Disequilibrium1’s blog are still not understood. The survivors, on the other hand, are engaging in a dialogue, but are not running the risk of making a living by harming people.

  11. Anon –

    You’re right, one can’t prove a negative. In cold-blooded debate-club terms, you’re asserting a positive; that therapy does more harm than good. The evidence for the therapists’ position can be found in the ‘results’ section of every research article on psychotherapy, where changes in clients’ emotional-health system are recorded. Your position would have support if these consistently showed clients’ emotional health grow worse. Instead, they usually show the opposite. When therapies are shown to be ineffective or less effective than what we already have (“Primal scream” therapy comes to mind), they dry up and blow away.

    I strongly agree with you and Disequilibrium1 on a larger point – unethical and/or incompetent therapists can hurt people. This is also true of unethical/incompetent doctors and mechanics, but no one suggests driving, flying and the practice of medicine be put on hold until the error rate hits zero. I strongly disagree that there are no ethical or scientific standards in the field of psychology.

    • Jonathan,
      I wrote the blog to explore that even accepted practice by a competent therapist can be harmful to some clients, some of the time. I think most of my therapy would be consider competent and mainstream. Yet it left me self-pitying,depressed, subordinate and debilitated–and more vulnerable to someone unethical.

      If you’d asked any of my therapists, even Dr. Scorn before our argument began, they would have described me as as highly successful because I was so compliant. Dr. Scorn’s notes indicated my thriving.

      I could only examine the big picture years later. Was therapy any kind of turning point? How did it affect the general direction of my life? It was a disaster.

      Yet two of my therapists still have successful practices, and one is quite prominent in her community.

    • Mary

      Jonathan —

      I’m not sure how to interpret your comment, “I strongly disagree that there are no ethical or scientific standards in the field of psychology ” (May 28, 9 am). Judging from the sentence preceding this quote, it seems to be in reference to comments by Anon and Disequilbrium1. Is this (at least in part) in reference to Anon’s comment (May 28, 2:24 am), “ … given the current lack of scientific and ethical standards in the field …”?

      My inclination would be to interpret Anon’s comment not as, “there are no ethical or scientific standards in the field of psychology,” (which I would also disagree with), but rather as, “The current states of ethical and scientific standards in psychology are low,” which I agree with, based on the evidence that I have seen, both in my own experience in therapy, and in my reading about therapy.

      For example, you say, (May 27, 11:36 am), “Plenty of therapists don’t ask for feedback at all. That makes them less-effective (or ineffective!) therapists.” I agree with you on that – but see this as evidence of a widespread lack of high ethical standards. In other words, I see asking for feedback from clients as part of having high ethical standards. I very much appreciate the efforts of Scott Miller, Michael Lambert, and others in promoting the use of feedback, and am glad to see that you use it – but the profession as a whole has a long way to go in adopting such practices as standard ethical practice.

      As for scientific standards – the evidence I have seen is that scientific standards in psychology are low. This is true in some other fields as well, but the evidence of low quality in psychology appears to be especially strong. (See, for example, http://www.nature.com/news/replication-studies-bad-copy-1.10634). There has recently been increasing concern about this in psychology (See for example, the November, 2012 issue of Perspectives in Psychological Science, http://pps.sagepub.com/content/7/6.toc, especially the articles by Pashler and Harris and by Ioannidis. The title of the issue is “Replicability in Psychological Science: A Crisis of Confidence?”)

      These examples illustrate that low ethical standards are not necessarily a matter of individual evil or ill-intent, but all too often are maintained out of ignorance. The standards, the norms for “normal” practice, need to be improved to improve the ethical quality of psychotherapy practice and of psychotherapy research. Doing “what everyone else does” can be unethical.

    • anon

      Jonathan, here are some updates on the quality of research in your field:

      http://www.nature.com/news/psychology-must-learn-a-lesson-from-fraud-case-1.9513

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/blog/2013/feb/27/psychologists-bmc-psychology

      http://bigthink.com/neurobonkers/the-mystery-of-the-missing-experiments

      Psychotherapy studies are notorious for being riddled with shady data practices, including confirmation bias, file-drawer effects, allegiance effects, etc. And the (unfalsifiable) anecdotes/”cases” don’t cut it either, unless you’re willing to put yourself in the same camp as motivational speakers, psychics/palm readers, gurus, mystics, cult leaders, and other snake-oil vendors that prey on vulnerable clients while maintaining the support of enthusiasts full of anecdotes extolling their life-changing benefits.

      • Thanks for the links, Anon. They made for some interesting reading.

        What I took from them is that psychology has the worst case of the problems that affect all scientific research. District attorneys are judged by their conviction rate, not their convicting-the-right-person rate, In the same way, researchers get ahead by delivering startling new findings. Evidence of what doesn’t work and coverage of failed experiments doesn’t get published nearly as much.

        Since it’s other psychologists calling attention to this problem, I don’t see support for your argument that psychology has no ethics or scientific basis.

      • When the APA invites Dr. Phil to give the Presidential Address at their 2006 convention, I conclude that ethical or scientific standards in the field of psychology are low.

      • Mary

        Jonathan,

        I still don’t understand your claim (repeated in your May 30 12:41 pm comment — I’m not sure whether it will appear below or above this) that Anon claims that “psychology has no ethics or scientific basis.” I have searched the comments, and the only thing close to that I can find is Anon’s statement (May 28, 2:24 am), “ … given the current lack of scientific and ethical standards in the field …,” which doesn’t sound to me that same as your assertion of what he claimed.

        Anon,
        Can you clarify?

      • anon

        Thanks, Mary! You’re right: I meant ‘inadequate’ or ‘insufficient’ scientific and ethical standards.

        If therapy were a harmless, risk-free endeavor, then very low standards would suffice. Given that many people are in fact harmed in therapy, however, there ought to be higher standards of justification in place.

        Jonathan seems to be attacking a straw man.

  12. In reply to Jonathan Miller’s replies to me and others re: discipline of therapists. First of all, thank you for your response. I think one of the problems we all have is shown when we say “I would have thought . . . ” Nothing wrong in saying that, but it shows that we all make assumptions that may or may NOT be correct.
    As for your explaining what Ohio does on its disciplinary website vs. what California does, I have seen this my entire professional life as a lawyer. Each state can (and oftentimes) will be profoundly different in its own laws, and how (and IF) they convey notice of disciplinary actions to the public, and in its specificity of what the therapist did to cause the discipline.
    Your advice re: what groups like ours should do – change things, by ‘acting like NRA members’ and ‘write to our congressmen’. Do you REALLY think that these letters are the reasons the NRA has such power?? Last year, that organization spent almost $3 million in lobbying alone, and almost $20 million in ads, campaigns, etc. against individual candidates and proposed laws or changes to laws.
    In a reply to someone else, you said that there are bad therapists, just as there are bad doctors, bad pilots, etc., but no one advocates that we eliminate all doctors and pilots. I agree with you. However – As I worked for 10 years in a licensing agency, there is a HUGE difference in how anyone ‘discovers’ and reports a bad therapist vs. other professionals. Individual therapy is ALWAYS done with ONLY the two people present – therapist and client. NO WITNESSES. Sometimes this happens in other professions, but far less often. Doctors have nurses, receptionists, hospital staff, and often colleagues who witness their work, for example. At my old agency, MANY complaints about poor doctors came from the individuals I have just named, because they were Witnesses to the doctors’ behavior, treatment of patients, etc. As to complaints about poor therapists, except in one instance, I NEVER saw one come from a person other than the ex-client. It is just the nature of the beast.
    The profession should acknowledge that this exists, and therefore POLICE themselves better, including members of the licensing boards. This includes when a new client meets a therapist, and the client is ‘damaged’ because or what the ex-therapist did that was aggregious, THE EX-THERAPIST SHOULD BE REPORTED TO THE LICENSING BOARD by the new therapist.. As a lawyer, I have to do this in Illinois if I see a lawyer do something for which he should be disciplined.
    In addition, California’s Consumer Protection Agency has an information sheet which is Excellent – a Client’s Bill of Rights. At this point it is only voluntary, but it should be made a legal requirement that a therapist MUST give a copy to each new client, and that each sign and date it. It explains what information a client should know from his therapist, that a client has the right to leave his therapist, and includes all the information he needs to file a complaint. See the last page of:
    http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/proftherapy.shtml
    I agree that groups like our own must begin educating the public, and therapists, re: what we and others have experienced. BUT this responsibility also falls very much on the shoulders of the therapists, themselves. As a member of a professional they have this obligation.

  13. I’ve noticed that the comments have not been posted in the order they have been received. Is that a technical mishap? It just makes it difficult to follow the discussion. Anyway, I found something Jonathan said confusing. “National Rifle Association members take the time to write their representatives, and their effectiveness is clear.”

    National Rifle Assosiation??? Really? Did you mean to compare the group of people on Disequilibrium’s blog with NRA. If yes, I’d take offense if I were them.

    • Sorry, but I don’t know why the posts appear as they do.

      As for my earlier comments, if I meant to compare Disequilibrium1’s group to the NRA, I would have compared them to the NRA. I mentioned them because their power comes from the time they devote to their cause. They have the well-funded lobbyists ReSharpen mentions because they devote their money to it as well.

      Too many people with worthy causes throw up their hands helplessly because because they feel outmatched. If reforms are necessary, I hope Disequilibrium1’s group will organize to push for those. The NRA is proof that citizens (even those with unpopular points of view) can hold sway in Washington DC.

      • As I have already stated, our blog has agreed to ‘organize’ at some point, including educating the public re: poor therapists.
        HOWEVER, therapists themselves – especially good ones, such as yourself – have an obligation to join us. You yourself have noted activities of unethical therapists. Decent lawyers, such as myself, have also supported laws, regulations, etc., to CLEAN UP our profession. Post-Watergate, all lawyers were mandated to take ethics classes or courses, and new lawyers had to take and pass an ethics exam. The push for these came from Lawyers’ Groups! (However, I will say that if a lawyer wants to ‘rob’ his clients, etc., he’ll do so in spite of ‘ethics’ courses).
        This point I just made is SO emblematic of many therapy professionals. It is exactly in line with when a client tells his therapist a criticism about the therapist, and the therapist almost NEVER states that he or she was wrong, in any way, shape or form. OR its the magic ‘I don’t remember saying that . . . ‘ even though the prior session took place only a week before OR the old standby of ‘Your criticism is really about yourself/due to your own neuroses/due to your ridiculous attitudes, etc.’ Blame the Victim.
        You have read in our blog the mountains of comments exactly along these lines which have been written by victim/clients re: these very situations.
        As to the NRA, they DO NOT have an ‘unpopular point of view’, not in the least. Just look at the numbers. AND, importantly, do you REALLY think a cause of ours will ever attract even a tiny % of the amount of contributions that the NRA receives? Please. There are FAR more gun owners, gun manufacturers, and retail gun store owners than the number of ex-clients who have been screwed by their therapists who are willing to do something about it en mass.
        ANd for many of us the only act we will take to stop the damage from a bad therapist is to simply stop seeing that therapist. That solves the individual’s problem pretty easily. Plus, it’s not like our livelihood depends on organizing against poor therapists. PLUS – just guess who will oppose us?? ALL the Associations whose members are therapists – all the corporations, professional therapy ‘centers’, mental health clinics, etc. – and THEY have money.
        In spite of this, I have never been one to ‘throw up our hands in the air’. You need to understand that ANY new movement starts with discussions among those who are interested in that cause. You can’t simply yell ‘organize’ and expect people to immediately join you. I, myself, have been active in many movements and know this personally.
        Once I can, I plan to organize with others. This horrific treatment of vulnerable souls who become ‘clients’ merely because they really need therapeutic help – It Must Stop. And you should seriously consider joining us.

      • Jonathan, I’m curious if there’s some subtext here. Might you hold a certain annoyance about our complaints the drives you to assign us such a masochistic mission? Just asking….

        We might seem like a group, we’re a loose collection of correspondents around a topic. I just wrote some stuff two and half years ago. I understand regulation is on the state level, which makes activism an even greater challenge.

        I understand your point about NRA’s passion, but I don’t see the equivalency. The NRA is heavily funded by the firearms industry and employs an extremely shrewd strategist at a $1M annual salary. I could write another 1,800 words about their tactics, but suffice to say I don’t share their ethics in how they stir emotions.

        I’ve read what happens when psychotherapeutic efficacy becomes a public topic. One example was the Beene-Bayog case, I’d think an embarrassment to her colleagues, but was fiercely defended by them.

        I’m committed enough with projects under my own roof and real by-line to undertake an assault on the mental health industry. I won’t put a call to arms on you personally, but do hope professionals, as a group, pay more attention some issues our unorganized collective raises.

  14. Mary

    Re WiseMonkey’s question (May 28, 2013 at 5:36 PM) about comments not appearing in the order in which they are written:

    I suspect the placement of a comment depends on whether the commenter clicks a “reply” button following or preceding an existing comment, or whether they use the “reply” box at the bottom of the page. If the former, the comment (I am guessing) appears, indented, after the comment where the reply button was (possibly after other comments made by clicking that same reply button. But if the responder uses the reply box at the bottom of the page, I am guessing that the comment appears at the bottom of the page (and not indented).

    So, for example, I am making this comment using the Reply box at the bottom of the page, so expect this comment to appear at the bottom of the page. However, a couple of minutes ago, I made a comment by clicking a Reply button on a comment made by Jonathan (if I recall correctly), so expect that comment to appear earlier on the page, nearer to the comment that had the reply button.

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