Any therapists around? Need an objective opinion re: new counsellor

(37 Posts)
MyNewName4This Thu 24-Sep-20 14:28:14

Could do with some objective views here, as I don't know if I'm being too harsh.

I had a telephone counselling assessment last week. I was on a long waiting list for the counselling and I'm loathe to give it up easily but I feel quite uncomfortable with something the counsellor said.
Bit of backstory - I looked for this counselling when I found out someone close to me is an active addict (drugs).
I wanted counselling to try help me identify and put strategies in place to deal with my own reactions to this person.
The counsellor asked me how I felt about the drug use, and I truthfully said I find it utterly disgusting, and from an ethical and moral perspective I can't condone it (i.e my issue with the person is not just about the deceit involved)

He kind of jumped on this and asked me was I not being a bit harsh - that some people would view eating meat as equally morally suspect. He also informed me that he works part-time in a drug outreach programme.
I just feel now that he is not objective and is more on the side of the addict if that makes sense.

I know I'm not going to feel comfortable attending counselling with him, but I'm not sure if I should tell him the reason why?
Like I said I don't know if I'm being too harsh, but I'm thinking that he'd asked me how I felt about drug use and how it has affected me, and the last thing I needed was to be told I'm being too harsh on the person close to me who has caused me so much pain.

For full disclosure, this person is going into residential rehab shortly, and I will be involved in the process there.
I just wanted an impartial space to discuss how the drug use has affected me too.

Apologies for rambling thread, hope it makes sense.

OP’s posts: |
username105 Thu 24-Sep-20 14:36:02

They don't sound like the right person for you. You want someone objective, not someone who jumps down your throat which is a very emotional response.

Angrymum22 Thu 24-Sep-20 14:38:33

I can understand your concerns but he has quickly identified a major problem with your involvement in your relatives rehabilitation. He is probably aware of the great problems addicts have with well meant but judgemental support from family.
Addiction, to any drug/substance is complex, both from a physiological and psychological point of view. Ethics and morals are of little use to the addict once hooked.

HappyHedgehog247 Thu 24-Sep-20 14:40:06

Hi. The relationship you have with your therapist is really important so this needs to be discussed or for you to move. Can you change counsellor rather than have to decline it altogether? In all services I have worked in, clients can change counsellor. Sometimes means a bit more waiting depending on availability.

oakleaffy Thu 24-Sep-20 14:45:07

I’d blench too if someone used harsh words like “ disgusting “
It isn’t really disgusting as it it is a biochemical physiological addiction.
The counsellor is probably very experienced and more importantly, counsellors don’t “Take sides”, they may think that you are being a bit judgemental using terms like “disgusting “ .

How would YOU feel if someone called you “Disgusting “?
Any of the better counsellors would question emotive words like this.

buckeejit Thu 24-Sep-20 14:48:14

Talk to them, they are there to challenge you but you should also feel comfortable being uncomfortable with them iykwim?

If someone was an alcoholic would you have the same reaction? Or if they became addicted to prescription drugs? Perhaps he was trying to say that moral outrage won't help you support them through rehab.

Good luck

oakleaffy Thu 24-Sep-20 14:55:49

Counsellors who are good and effective can and do pull us up short, and challenge us.
It isn’t always what we want to hear, but if it is real change you are hoping to see, I think he sounds fine!

I had a counsellor who said I wasn’t giving the person I was getting counselling about enough privacy-
It was a wake up call.
Some of the best can be the most challenging, if you want an easy handholding “ there, there, dear” kind of counsellor, I’m sure they are about, but the challengers with good experience of the issues involved get one to think and examine one’s own behaviours.


TOFO1965 Thu 24-Sep-20 15:01:21

I have a lot of empathy for you OP. Addicts bring up a lot of feelings for some of us. There’s a using addict in my world at the moment and I used the word pathetic to describe during a counselling session. I find the behaviour of the addict immensely challenging and in the right mood could easily have used the word disgusting. A good counsellor (regardless of the judgement being spouted here, I wonder how many addicts they’ve dealt with in any meaningful way...) will try to help you understand why you feel that way and also help you unravel the layers of emotion that are behind such an umbrella term. The addict in my world acts like a complete victim, despite the stealing, deceit and emotional abuse they’ve meted out to everyone over the years. It’s hard to feel endless compassion for someone who’s endlessly fucking you over Good luck to you, I know how hard it can be and I think to even attempt to engage in this process shows great strength of character.

LuluBellaBlue Thu 24-Sep-20 15:04:51

I would suggest they raised this as surely it will be sure be of the main barriers for you to overcome mentally? Your perspective is distorted and judgmental, therefore how can you ever find a good place to be emotionally all the time you believe it be ‘disgusting’.
I’d actually suggest they sound excellent!

ChaChaCha2012 Thu 24-Sep-20 15:11:55

Utter disgust is a very strong emotion, and if that's truly what you mean, it will be a barrier to you helping yourself and your acquaintance.

I don't think the counsellor was taking sides, but offering an alternative viewpoint for you to explore. If you're unwilling to even contemplate alternative views, are you ready for a therapeutic process?

JulieBindelAteMyHamster Thu 24-Sep-20 15:18:27

Challenge is only helpful once a counsellor has earned the right to use it. I don't think an assessment is the appropriate place for that kind of challenge. A counsellor's first job is to deeply understand where you are right now.

Tell him how it affected you - his response will undoubtedly tell you whether it will work or not. Hint: if he's defensive, then you need to find another counsellor.

SVRT19674 Thu 24-Sep-20 15:25:15

Totally agree with you. Someone eating a steak doesnt usually steal and abuse his relatives or neighbours to eat it. Although some are outraged I guess. I also find drug use disgusting, but I understand that you will have to learn to set that aside if you are to help this person and to bear in mind that their rehab can be successful or fail time and time again. I wish you all the best.

middleeasternpromise Thu 24-Sep-20 15:32:41

I would suggest you use this episode - rather than run from it. Be open to the idea that how you experienced it - so talk about feeling 'jumped upon' and ask if thats what he thought happened. Did he say you were being harsh or did he say the language might be harsh? Also remember that a telephone counselling engagement is much harder than in person where you would have been able to see the body language and the facial expressions to know if the counsellor was working to figure out what approach will be most helpful for your dilemma.

You say you wanted help to deal with your own reactions to the persons issues - this session seems to have gotten straight to an aspect of that which I would feel is more useful than taking months to get into the conversation. Dont look for the counsellor to agree or to befriend you - use them as a trained professional who might have skills to help you do what you came to do. This sort of work is not easy - youve chosen counselling I expect because you dont feel you can fully use your friends and family - if things bother you this is the sort of professional relationship that thrives on honesty - just say how the comments affected you and work from there. The telling you they work within the field of addiction was I would say, an act of professionalism and context setting - would you rather they didnt tell you but work with you not knowing their influences. It doesnt mean they cant be helpful in fact they might well have insights you wouldnt usually get close to as perhaps this isnt an experience you are familiar with. Id agree to 6 sessions and review - you need that amount of time to test it out.

Letsnotargue Thu 24-Sep-20 15:34:19

You are the client in the relationship with the counsellor, and their role is to help you get to where you want to be. If they think that challenging you will ultimately help then there is a place for this, but their role is not to judge or try to change you for any other reason - whether he works for a drugs outreach programme shouldn't make a blind bit of difference.

My counsellor said to me in our first session that I could always question her. If I said something and felt that she was judging me or drawing conclusions, she said I should raise it and discuss it. She said that forming her own judgements was not part of her role and that if ever I wanted to know what she was thinking she would tell me. Not sure I have explained that very well, but the relationship must be an open and trusting one.

Ultimately if you don't feel comfortable with him then it is unlikely to be a successful counselling relationship.

LachlanRose Thu 24-Sep-20 15:34:36

Well my opinion is that the counsellor - client relationship is an important one , and not all counsellors are a good fit to all clients. In private counselling it's not uncommon to attend more than one introduction in order to find someone you feel comfortable with.

I think most counsellors are person centred , using Carl Rogers core conditions of empathy, unconditional positive regard and congruence ( I'm not a counsellor, I did a short course as part of a volunteer job). You feel judged by your counsellor and that to me is a very relevant. The one thing we shouldn't feel as a client is judged.

Yes, counsellors can challenge and they certainly should.... But in a way that maintains a non judgemental space, and he hasn't managed to do this.

This counsellor isn't right for you. There's nothing wrong with that, I would look to change if possible.

JudyGemstone Thu 24-Sep-20 16:04:56

Using a challenge like this in the first session was a risky strategy, and possibly he was coming from a slightly defensive place due to his work in drug services. What he said was right though, in my opinion.

Agree you should raise this with him and let him know you felt a bit 'told off', hopefully this will open up a rich and productive dialogue.

Counselling is a great opportunity to practice adult-adult communication and work through relational 'ruptures'. You do need a solid and trusting working alliance to do this though, which you won't have in an assessment session.

Give him another session and then decide I'd say.

TryTry123 Thu 24-Sep-20 16:06:08

He compared drug abuse with vegetarianism. No that is incorrect. Drugs do kill people and do destroy the lives of anyone who loves the addict. He may be a former addict who is carrying unresolved shame?
There are free groups like Nar Anon and Al Anon where you will find people affected by a loved one's addiction. They will support you in your own choices.

Gingerkittykat Thu 24-Sep-20 16:06:17

He sounds like he is the wrong counsellor for you. He should be viewing things from your perspective and his first priority should be your emotional wellbeing.

Can I ask what kind of organisation you were on the waiting list for? If it is a drug and alcohol agency offering support to loved ones then they might have a different slant on it.

crosshatching Thu 24-Sep-20 16:11:45


I’d blench too if someone used harsh words like “ disgusting “
It isn’t really disgusting as it it is a biochemical physiological addiction.
The counsellor is probably very experienced and more importantly, counsellors don’t “Take sides”, they may think that you are being a bit judgemental using terms like “disgusting “ .

How would YOU feel if someone called you “Disgusting “?
Any of the better counsellors would question emotive words like this.

But surely it's the role of a counsellor to say something like 'that sounds like a strong, emotional response - perhaps we could explore that a bit more?' rather than go straight to whataboutery. As someone who works is drug rehab he should be used to friends and families having emotional reactions.

Regularsizedrudy Thu 24-Sep-20 16:18:02

A therapist is there to help you examine things and question your perceptions. They are not there for you to vent at and them blindly agree with you. Therapy is not a passive process. It’s normal to be faced with difficult questions at times.

SonEtLumiere Thu 24-Sep-20 16:45:08

I think disgust is a valid response.

Drug addicts will and have done anything to feed their habits. There are people on these boards who were prostituted out by addicted parents and some people presume to scold the OP and take the side of addicts over those who pick up the pieces.

The OP is perfectly entitled to frame her response to the addiction in a way that displeases the addict and their cheerleaders.

This is just another way of telling people (usually women) to STFU and get back to their role of serving- not thinking, feeling or having opinions.

At the end of the day drug users, that counselor, and their apologists of this board are giving money to drug cartels knowing the impact of that. We know already that addicts absolve themselves of any and all negative impacts on all people other than themselves so it’s a waste of time hoping they will consider it. But the apologists do know better but will much prefer to make spurious claims rather than give up their little treat.

SoulofanAggron Thu 24-Sep-20 17:29:26

I'm not a therapist but I have a lot of experience of therapy.

It can take a few tries to find the right therapist for you on a particular issue.

I feel so strongly about drugs that I would feel the same as you about a therapist who said that. Seen the damage it does to people's mental health, ability to function in relationships etc- my first time in hospital for bipolar for 6 weeks was due to a boyfriend who smoked skunk getting me slightly into it. I've also had a couple of partners who were into drugs and I think it impaired them and effected them negatively in a lot of ways.

I would say to the people organizing the service that you didn't feel that person was right for you- maybe tell them why, so they can pick someone suitable. It won't be unusual for them to have people say that a particular therapist wasn't right for them. Your perspective on drugs isn't rare, especially among people like you who've seen the damage they cause to people and their lives/loved ones.

He also is dismissing your lived exerience and perceptions, which isn't good in a therapist.

I feel angry on your behalf! [anger]

So, call the service and say that wasn't the right person for you. No point working with him as you won't get as far as you would and have as good results as if you were with someone on your wavelength.

In the meantime you could find support groups for people in your situation, there will be some online. Or if you can afford it for a short time you could see a therapist privately. I'm disabled and unable to work but I pay for therapy out of my PIP, even though I don't have a lot of money. It is worth it.

SandyY2K Thu 24-Sep-20 17:42:41

This is not the counsellor for you. The therapeutic relationship is really the centre of therapy and you not feeling right about it, will hinder any progress.

I don't feel the counsellor was right to say what they did.

If he felt your feelings about the use of drugs would affect his ability to counsel you, he should have raised that within his counseling agency.

Although he conducted the initial assessment, are you sure he'll be the counsellor allocated to you?

MyNewName4This Thu 24-Sep-20 18:07:41

Lot of different responses to get through here.

Apologies, I really do struggle to transfer what's in my head to the written word, so bear with me.

I have seen many therapists over the years, and not one of them challenged me like that in an assessment session. You need to build up trust before taking that approach imo.

I know it's hard to get across, but he did seem defensive to me and repeatedly mentioned the meat eating thing. I find it insulting to even compare the two

Yes I find drug use disgusting. I make no apologies for that. I'm not calling the addict disgusting. There is a difference.
This person has lied to my face repeadedly, stolen from me, and gaslit me over a very long period of time. They have used drugs whilst being in charge of a vehicle, and in a work situtation where serious injury or death could have been caused if they made an error due to their drug use. I do find it hard to look at someone that can do those things.

Rationally I know that addiction is a "biochemical reaction", but when you are living through a nightmare situation because of it, it is extrememly hard to be rational and objective.

I know I may not be able to help this person through their addiction due to the damage that's been done to the relationship - and I've told them that.
I am willing to engage with the rehab approach and do in fact hope to gain some further understanding of addiction which may help me support them but I wanted some space away from all the addiction focused single and group therapy where I can work out my needs and boundaries.

I have already decided that this therapist isn't the right fit for me. I'll ask to go back on the waiting list until another counsellor is available. What I'm trying to work out is should I woman up and tell him why!
Classic female socialisation of not wanting to hurt someones feelings, but I really feel the approach was inappropriate to the setting (assessment) and would like to spare someone else having to go through that.

OP’s posts: |
MyNewName4This Thu 24-Sep-20 18:18:52

I'm not in the UK so services are difference - it is a general community counselling service rather than a specific addiction one.

He definitely is the counsellor I have been allocated unfortunately.

OP’s posts: |

Join the discussion

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Join Mumsnet

Already have a Mumsnet account? Log in