AIBU to ask if anyone has had experience of a damaging or unethical psychotherapist and how they moved on from it?

(11 Posts)
abitlost7 Tue 28-Jul-15 17:43:16

First post but long time lurker in Aibu (lemon drizzle, pom bears etc). Posting here because I don't know who I can talk to in real life about this. Had suffered EA as a child and as a result eating disorders but had made good progress and was getting my life together in a good way. Went to see this person as I was having trouble dealing with a bully at work and also struggling with some big decisions. I saw this person for a long time during which I got very sick and depressed until I started to realise that their behaviour was controlling abusive and chauvinistic. He told me a lot of things that I realise now were just not true eg: at my age (mid thirties) I was unlikely to meet someone as "there are a lot more single women than men" ( this was a frequent theme) and that there was some issue with the way I expressed myself/ I talked too much. Looking back I was actually attractive and made friends easily but somehow I internalised this and became so filled with fear and devoid of hope. I am trying to move on but I keep waking up at night dwelling on the whole thing and crying. How do I get past this? I feel I need help but don't think I can trust another therapist or counsellor.

LaurieFairyCake Tue 28-Jul-15 18:03:58

Are you feeling strong enough to complain? Was it recent and are they still practising?

Anyone can set up as a psychotherapist as it's not compulsorily regulated yet but good ones are members of Bacp/ukcp/babcp and have a complaint process.

If you do decide you want therapy again then an accredited therapist is a good place to start.

dejarderoncar Tue 28-Jul-15 18:27:02

hello OP. I have a friend who sadly became involved with some very unprofessional therapists, one of whom was abusive and between them they triggered a traumatic reaction which almost caused her to have a further breakdown.

All of them were members of recognised professional organisations.

You can take out a complaint if your therapist was a member of such a body. However, in my friends experience, the whole thing was a nightmare, it took years, the professional bodies seem more concerned with protecting their own members. And if the therapist is insured, as they should be, they will have fancy lawyers on hand to fight you all the way, whereas you may have very limited resources.

You need to think hard about whether you are strong enough to undergo this lengthy process, which can be damaging in itself.

Even if you 'win', the professsional body may just give a slapped wrist and the therapist can more often than not continue causing damage.

On the positive side, after four years of struggle, my friend does feel vindicated as the various tribunals before which she represented herself, did agree with her version of events. She found this quite empowering. But she did have a lot of emotional support and has friends who are very knowledgable in the relevant area.

If you look up the websites for the professional bodies mentioned above, look at their complaints procedures.

To chose a new therapist, maken sure they are qualified and belong to a prof body, you should be able to have an initial free assessment interview, where YOU can see if you feel comfortable with the therapist, and remember to remain in control and end the relationship if you do not feel happy and safe with the process at any stage. Good luck

kali110 Tue 28-Jul-15 19:05:04

My god op thAt is so terrible.
Iv had to see someone when i was seriously struggling so i know how it feels to be that vulnerable.
Please trust someonelse op, they are not all bad xx

abitlost7 Wed 29-Jul-15 17:57:57

Thank you so much everybody that replied - I really appreciate it. It helped a bit even to just post here as it has all been bottled up inside. From looking at the therapists credentials online it says they are a clinical psychologist but doesn't mention any letters or being part of any organisation or body?
I don't know if I'm strong enough to complain right now or want to take that on. I had thought about confronting them or that I should have before ending therapy. I just stopped going back but it wasn't an instant decision it was like a dawning realisation that his behaviour was wrong. It has taken about a year and reading a lot about psychotherapy and confiding a bit in one friend who was shocked at some of the things he said to me. kali you are right when you talk about being vulnerable in that position - that is the only way I can explain how much power I gave this person. It was just very confusing because he could be very kind and was helpful on some issues - but ones I would see as minor - he kept making me postpone making a decision on whether to stay in my relationship or move it on or not which was major source of stress for me. He ridiculed (based on my age) me for saying perhaps I needed to date other people for a while. He told me if I left this relationship 'I could expect to be on my own for a very long time' He never really asked me my feelings or opinions about things but instead told me who I was. I became so confused and lost.
The reason I has doubts about my relationship was because although my dp was a very kind person we didn't really have a sexual life at all and beyond that I wondered if we had enough in common. I really wanted to examine these issues but the therapist kept brushing them aside and saying things like sexual chemistry is very unreliable in choosing a partner and going on about arranged marriages (seriously :/)
I just feel full of grief now because I feel like I completely lost touch with myself and put my life on hold for a few years. I don't know if it trauma or grief but I just cant get rid of it.
Do you think seeing another therapist is the thing to do? I just want to shed this and start repairing my life. It has just made me cynical and afraid that all therapists have their own issues and will just need me to need them rather than empower me to help myself? Will they take kindly to my criticism of a fellow therapist?
Is there a particular kind of therapist I should seek out in this case?
ISorry this has been so long - thank you if you have managed to read this far.

Sazzle41 Wed 29-Jul-15 18:11:07

I had bad exp with an NHS one. He couldnt relate to me being depressed, made no effort to find out why and only wanted to talk about sex (I was celibate). When i asked to see his notes he got very defensive and stalled and when i got them they were literally one line per session, no analysis etc. Then without telling me he call a 'case conference' with his team about me and sent me the 'outcome' which was that i would 'never get better'. Gee thanks.

I see a private one now, less regularly as i am not too bad these days. He is great, we just know my issues and what works for me but i still need the odd bit of support now an again. I really would look again and not be disheartened.

AlwaysSpoiled34 Wed 29-Jul-15 18:11:36

There are lots of good therapists. You will find a good help, I would ask for reference but it is your decision. Trust your gut feeling. I would not go any further with complaint, resentment will cause lots of hurt. Forgive and move on with your life. You will feel better soon. Good lucksmile

Greymalkin Wed 29-Jul-15 18:30:30

Hello OP,

Firstly, it's terrible that you have had such a negative experience. Therapy is meant to be a safe, protected space where you can say whatever you need to, about anyone. Properly trained therapists should be able to accept and take on board everything you put to them , even criticism about other therapists and about themselves.

Psychotherapists and also a lot of counsellors should be in therapy themselves (depending on their training perspectives) so that they don't get their own issues mixed up with their clients.

If your old therapist said he was a psychologist, assuming he trained in this country, he should be registered with the British Psychological Society. If he isn't then he does not hold a UK recognised qualification. I could be mistaken, but there are no other professional bodies specifically for psychologists.

Please do not give up on therapy if you want help. Psychotherapy might be more appropriate for abuse and eating disorders than say CBT which is usually short term and more of a 'sticking plaster' solution (in my opinion). Be warned though, NHS waiting lists are long. Going privately will be expensive, but ask whether the therapist/counselling agency has a reduced rate for people on low income/benefits (if this applies to you).

And as a PP said, always check the therapist is registered with UKCP, BACP, BPS or BPC as these have the most stringent training and ethical codes.

LaurieFairyCake Wed 29-Jul-15 18:54:53

You should definitely complain to the BPS if he's a psychologist.

He shouldn't have been doing psychotherapy with you as he's not trained in psychotherapy but instead is a psychologist (who have no compulsory training in therapy and don't have to go to therapy themselves)

He sounds like a really shit psychologist to say all that to you.

Smataya Wed 29-Jul-15 18:57:37

I am so so sorry you went through such an awful experience. I have met some truly awful psychologists with such ingrained issues of their own, they should not be allowed to work with the general public. If I were you, I would continue to pursue the complaint with the bps if he is accredited to them, and any other bodies he belongs to, including the health care professionals council which he should be registered with if he is practicing. Currently, hcp's have to disclose at job interview if a complaint has been brought against them. T
I believe what I've written is correct but a better informed poster might come along to offer better advice.
Finally, you have the right to 'interview' a potential therapist, in a way by having a free initial session and seeing if your values match. They are all individuals and usually compassionate people and I don't think anyone sensible would hold anything against you. I saw a wonderful empathetic existential psychotherapist in central London, pm me if you would like to have her details.
The man sounds just awful. I'm so sorry he hurt you during such a vulnerable time flowers

saltnpepa Wed 29-Jul-15 20:15:38

Did you begin to believe his translation of you more than your own experience of you? There are lots of narcissists in that profession. I have a sister who is utterly deranged who is in practice as a psychologist and she giggles about her clients at dinner parties, is an absolute abusive bitch.

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