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#42376 - 06/19/03 01:49 AM A Collective Discussion of Therapists & Therapy
Marc Offline

Registered: 04/25/03
Posts: 256
Loc: Tucson, AZ
hDan, Thank you for a spectacular title for this new thread...

Please, please please!!! Post responses guys. I need help. I'll try to summarize as much as possible with bullet points.

Overview: I had a seriously downtrodden year within the past year starting with a motorcycle accident last August, progressing to a serious 'substance' abuse problem by January to include some very unsafe sexual acting out and ending with a severe staphylococcal infection.

Severely depressed once again (as if I ever haven't been?) I quit smoking, drinking, drugs, and sex and sought out a therapist. Now keep in mind that I am alternately both a controlling SOB and a scared, confused little boy when it comes to making decisions about myself.

  • A. Started Therapy March 12th this year for the fourth time in my life

  • B. Started 10mg Lexapro (Antidepressant) March 31st

  • C. I find myself falling back into bad behaviors

  • D. Quit medication (Side-effect of bruxism becomes to much) Now required to quit coffee as a response? Come on, gotta have 'some' vice

  • E. Quit therapy June 13th

How did I get from 'A' to 'E'? I saw this guy at least once a week from the beginning and as he mentioned in our final meeting last Friday, almost every time that I saw him (except for twice) I was in 'crisis' mode. He admittedly doesn't have a 'lot' of history of sexual abuse treatment though he claims to have some.

Additionally, I think that the bulk of my issues come more from the physical and emotional abuse from my dead alcoholic F%ckhead of a father than from the sexual abuse that I experienced at the hands of my cousin (though neither is particularly appealing to look at.)

I don't know if my therapist was good or not. He kept trying to 'drive home' the AA process which I think is a load of bunk for me! It also made me feel like he was trying to pawn me off. 'My paranoia', suspects that all he wants is my cash. On the other hand on Monday June 16th he'd left a message on my vmail at home saying that he'd thought about me a lot over the weekend and was concerned about the way I decided to abandon the whole process (Amazing how deathly depressing I can come across when I am deathly depressed.). He also said that he understood if I didn't want to continue with him at this point but that he offered that if I want to wcontinue to work with him the choice is mine and more importantly, he hopes that I will not give up on myself or therapy in general. This makes me think that maybe he is a good guy and really does have my best intersts at heart. I have to admit I am very jaded by the whole therapy process. I don't trust it but then hey, I don't really trust anyone! (No offense but my mind says that we all have ulterior motives while my heart says that is nonsense .)

I don't want to move from T to shining T throughout my life damnit!

Do I go back to him and give him another try. I think that he does have concern for me, which is important, and I just don't trust myself not to effectively determine whether he or some other therapist would be good for me.

I only know that I need help... as you can see from my avatar. No longer the happy banana. Instead, I feel like 'time is running out'.

I have perused the 'How to find a "good" therapist' docs from end to end. Finding a "good" therapist is not a problem. Accepting that someone wants to genuinely help me and has an ability to do so IS the problem.

Any insight that you have would be greatly appreciated. As a side note to Ken or any other T's out there, if I signed off on an interview with this or some other T, could you possibly contact him and evaluate him or suggest someway that someone could? I just don't have the talent and I will always be 'second-guessing' my decision. I need to get past that if I am going to progress.

Help! \:\(

P.S. Sorry this is so long winded.

#42377 - 06/19/03 04:16 AM Re: A Collective Discussion of Therapists & Therapy
dwf Offline
Moderator/BoD Emeritus

Registered: 05/24/03
Posts: 1223
Loc: Austin, Texas USA

I found ways to overcome many challenges in my life, but the sexual abuse was too painful to handle on my own. The pain grew chronic. I began to cry uncontrollably every night. I could not pray without going into spasms of choking.

I did not know why this was happening. I had been completely resistant and skeptical of therapy for me. I thought it was fine for others.

Since then I have had 3 therapists, 2 psychiatrists, spent one night in a dismal ward of SouthBeach Psychiatric Center on lovely Staten Island. I also have seen assorted MDs for associated physical manifestations of being a victim of sexual abuse. That is a whole 'nother story.

In each case, I asked around, talked to some people who had been in therapy, asked to be guided and then rolled the dice.

All of my psychological/psychiatric treatment has been in community based or state funded sliding scale clinics. Strictly based on whoever was available on the day I called to start.

My only request was that the T be a man. Hard for me to talk about being raped with anyone, but nearly impossible with a woman--not too sure still why.

Therapist #1--young, hetero male. Relatively inexperienced. I cried a lot, got angry at him (really good for me) and developed a relationship of mutual good will. He was available to me for extra sessions when the revelations got too tough.

I saw him for about 3 years and made a bunch of progress. I got "unstuck" which is what I call that painful place I was in when I got desperate enough to try therapy.

Therapist #1--J. had a manic episode (?) while on vacation, spent a month in a mental hospital in another country and never returned to his practice. I spoke to him by phone briefly before he left. Got to learn a lot about how illness takes people away from me, and how I tend to blame myself.

Therapist #2 was at the Court Street Out Patient Clinic in Brooklyn NY. It's a state facility of last resort for mental illness. Once again the luck of the draw, only this time with enormous bureaucratic drag. He was great. A real advocate for me. Very practical--experienced in dealing with homeless, NYC street people. He got me to see a psychiatrist where I began taking AD meds for the first time--another real point of resistance.

I was unable to function in a normal life. I didn't know I was depressed--I thought I slept all the time because I was lazy!

T. #2 was a nice Italian hetero, bourgeois type from Staten Island. He was incredible--got me medical care I desperately needed (that's why I had to check into South Beach).

My medical condition required a treatment that causes severe depression--they would not let me begin the chemo until I was under psychiatrist care.

Once again, totally random based on a casual recommendation from a receptionist.
He's young, gay Hispanic guy. Completely incredible. He has monitored my meds and mental state with great care.

Adjusted the doses on a regular basis--recomended that I seek one on one therapy for the sexual abuse.

I followed his advice and now see Rick, at the same non-profit community based counselling center for lesbians, gay and TG here in Austin.

Yeah, you guessed it. Totally random choice because he subbed once for T. #1. He's a gay man who has led many coming out groups for men.

Turned out that was exactly the type of help I needed. He's the one who suggested I come here.

He's very kind and considerate, has a mild manner. The hour session flies by each week. We agreed in the beginning that we needed to focus on the sexual abuse.

I am also participating in group therapy with other gay men. It has put me in touch with decent, caring gay men.

I really needed to get in touch with guys like that. I am gay and associated being gay with all sorts of negative things: promiscuity, callous sexual practices, substance abuse; superficiality etc. etc. Ended up with lots of self hatred.

I now recognize that is a reaction to the sexual abuse--not to being gay. .

Talk about long-winded........

Marc, it seems to me that outside of the basic checking of references, asking around among friends and in the absence of any egregious behavior by the T, it is not nearly so important to me to choose the right T.

As my friends have told me, "Danny, your picker is broken." I make bad choices, especially in men.

The most important factor in my getting help is my willingness to seek and receive the care I need.

Practice being as honest as you can; experiment with expressing your emotions; use the therapy space as a place of safety; set boundaries with your T. Check your motives.

Are you going to the T to get better or to have another failed relationship to blame your unhappiness on? Sorry if that seems tough. I would never ask anyone that. But it is the type of question that I have to ask myself.

As a victim I am trained to wait on someone else to fix me, to make me feel a certain way, to make choices by refusing to make a choice.

Get committed to your own recovery. Demand that those who agree to help you live up to their duty. Most of them will take great care with their responsibilities. Will you take on yours?

My good friend, Charlie, once told me that most of us just want to FEEL better; we don't want to GET better--because that's scary and difficult.

There are a ton of Ts out there. You can find one adequate to your needs. Then you can start focussing on bringing yourself to the table with honesty and determination. It's really your choice.

You've really asked a big question here. It has made me reflect on my good fortune in my therapy, and it has also allowed me to recognize my own qualities of willingness and perserverance.

So I wish you good fortune and the recognition of your wonderful qualities of resilience and willingness. Plus you write a hell of a poem.

"Let it begin with me...." Take a leave of absence from the debating society, give up the right to find fault with others as a substitute for focussing on yourself.

Not because it's the "good" or "right" thing, but because
IT'S WHAT WORKS! And we deserve what works...let the normal people settle for ersatz headshrinking. Get committed, get some help and get busy.

Please take anything useful in this and disregard the rest. If anything seems harsh, please overlook it if you can. This is the way it has been for me. Maybe it can help one of you.

Thanks, Marc.

Wishing us all peace and happiness,

"Poke salad Annie, 'gators got you granny
Everybody said it was a shame
'Cause her mama was aworkin' on the chain-gang"

-Tony Joe White

#42378 - 06/19/03 08:47 AM Re: A Collective Discussion of Therapists & Therapy
andrew-almost52 Offline

Registered: 10/31/02
Posts: 243
Loc: canada
Marc, I would take the posting that you wrote to us and give it to your therapist to read. Then discuss what you wrote and your issues around trust.

Therapists don't have the magic elixir to life. 90% of the progress you make with any therapist will be because of your efforts, your investment, your insights, your sweat. IMHO 9-10 weeks of weekly sessions is too early to evaluate a therapist.

Peace, Andrew

#42379 - 06/19/03 09:14 AM Re: A Collective Discussion of Therapists & Therapy
michael Joseph Offline

Registered: 03/11/01
Posts: 2719
Loc: Virginia
I f he doesn't have experience that is one thing, if he isn't helping you is another.

I would not see someone if it was not helping me.

Standing together is so much better than hiding in the dark.
***I am a three time WoR Retreat Alumni***
The Round Table, Men's CSA Group, Monday 7:30pm CST, MaleSurvivor Chat

#42380 - 06/19/03 02:09 PM Re: A Collective Discussion of Therapists & Therapy
outis Offline

Registered: 02/27/03
Posts: 2261
Loc: Maryland USA

I don't have a lot of experience. I see the same T that my wife and I went to (and still go to) for marriage counseling. She's a clinical psychologist and her practice seems to be more couples and families than abuse victims. She did internship work in grief counseling. Before my parents divorced, when my mother first joined AA, we went to a family counselor a few times. That's my experience.

I read a post from Jeff (Zadok1) in this thread that made a world of difference to me. Here's part of what he said:

the bottom line is that male or female, the therapist is simply a guide. the burden of healing is on you. you have to do the work to recover. you alone. holding back, and lying will only slow that down. i think find someone who feels comfortable and understanding, and kind of look at them as asexual if you can.
I was impressed by the point that I have to actually do the f***ing work to recover. Holding back and expecting the T to make me "feel better" wasn't going to get me much except bills. Things have gotten more difficult, but I feel like I'm actually making progress (just don't ask me where I'm going yet \:\) ). The thread is about choosing male/female therapist, but consider Jeff's point about finding someone "comfortable and understanding."

Oh, and congratulations on having the strength to ask for help.



"Telemachos, your guest is no discredit to you. I wasted no time in stringing the bow, and I did not miss the mark. My strength is yet unbroken…"—The Odyssey, translated by W.H.D. Rouse

#42381 - 06/19/03 03:06 PM Re: A Collective Discussion of Therapists & Therapy
Tom S. Offline

Registered: 04/15/03
Posts: 161
Loc: Nashville, Tn
Originally posted by michael Joseph:
I f he doesn't have experience that is one thing, if he isn't helping you is another.

I would not see someone if it was not helping me.
Let me reinforce what Micheal is telling you here. He is dead on target, and is able to express it with suprisingly few words.
Personally. I wish tens of thousands of times I had could have known I had control of when I could walk instead of being further covertly sexualized during my very first attempt at recieving "theraputic" help at age 17.
You know what it is to be used, even if you don't know what it is to be helped, so use your own common God given sense.
Maintain C-O-N-T-R-O-L !! Walk out and look for someone else when ever you feel you need to, and analyize later. You can always go back.

{I am still amazed at how few words Micheal used to express this point here.}

quote: 'In this time of economic uncertainity, it is easy to see who is dedicated to providing health care, and who is chasing bucks.'

Tom S.

' None are so enslaved as those falsely led to believe they are actually free '

#42382 - 06/19/03 04:42 PM Re: A Collective Discussion of Therapists & Therapy
Mike Church Offline
Moderator Emeritus
Registered: 01/23/03
Posts: 3439
Loc: Toronto, Canada
Marc you have received a lot of good advice here. I would agree that you take this thread to your therapist.

Danny also had a specific thing I want to reinforce with you.
As a victim I am trained to wait on someone else to fix me, to make me feel a certain way, to make choices by refusing to make a choice.

Get committed to your own recovery. Demand that those who agree to help you live up to their duty. Most of them will take great care with their responsibilities. Will you take on yours?

My good friend, Charlie, once told me that most of us just want to FEEL better; we don't want to GET better--because that's scary and difficult.
Marc you have got to take the lead in your recovery. I have been in AA for 26 years and i have seen people come and go. Why do they leave? Because they were not committed to changing. We call them dried out drunks looking for a place to happen.

By taking the lead we establish within ourselves that we want to heal for us period.



#42383 - 06/20/03 08:53 PM Re: A Collective Discussion of Therapists & Therapy
Marc Offline

Registered: 04/25/03
Posts: 256
Loc: Tucson, AZ
Thank you to all of you who've contributed to this thread.

It is apparent that therapy is not to be taken lightly. My belief is that it could have the ability to hurt or to heal. It is NEVER simply innocuous.

My overwhelming desire to maintain some semblence of control in an otherwise out-of-control life is what has left me stuck. I still feel that I do not have the answer to my therapy questions but I do know that I am unable to go through this by myself. Here once again I find myself wishing in one hand and... you've all heard the rest.

I have decided to speak to my previous therapist once more. If only to more clearly define my expectations and most importantly determine if he is able to help me or I should look elsewhere.

When I first approached him as a therapist for me, I commented that I am committed to this process. No matter how depressed, impatient or unself-medicated I am or I become, I must not quit the journey. To quit is to die and as my mom often said, "You're a short time living and a long time dead." IMHO, I don't need to make it any shorter.

I don't know that this therapist will be the best for me. I have high expectations for myself and for him and I don't know that they are realistic or unrealistic. I only know that he has not been abusive. I think that he probably does have a good heart and for me that is important.

I will review with him some goals and expectations that I have of my self and of him. Boundaries for me need to be set and timelines established or I will continue to waffle in the wind and this is something that I can no longer afford.

Metaphorically speaking, the gun was too close to the hand this time. God help me if I hit this point again because no one else will. I know enough what questions will be asked and I know how to deflect them and still enable myself to exit stage left.

Sorry to be so dramatic but, I'm not kidding.

Confused about the mixed messaging? I know I am.

#42384 - 06/20/03 09:22 PM Re: A Collective Discussion of Therapists & Therapy
Wuamei Offline

Registered: 08/19/02
Posts: 2700
Loc: The left turn I should have ta...

It sounds like you have created a healthy positive
safe plan of action for yourself which will give you an opportunity to find your balance and balance in your therapy.

My T tries to help me find my own way. He will offer options but he leaves me in control of my decisions.

Now, I would think any good T would do that--unless of course you were going to do something illegal or imminently dangerous or something.

If you can find a T that specializes in working with male survivors so much the better. But to me the important thing with any health care worker is
that you know better than anyone what is wrong with you and you must be in charge of your own recovery your own way.

Take care friend.


"I can't stand pain. It hurts me."
--Daffy Duck

#42385 - 06/21/03 01:02 AM Re: A Collective Discussion of Therapists & Therapy
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
My therapist was wonderful.

And I don't think that was entirely down to the luck of the draw.
He worked for the charity I now help at which provides fully qualified specialized therapy for adult survivors of SA - nothing else. So I was in with a chance before I started.
Unfortunately he got an excellent day job and had to give up his work with us.

The woman who founded the charity and runs it does the initial interview with all new clients, and on her intuition assigns them to one of the 7 or 8 therapists, and she appears to have an uncanny knack for getting that right. The dropout rate is very very small and the success rate is high.

The guy who saw me said at the very start that he had no answers, no cure. And I thought "what the f**k am I doing here then ?"
But he teased the answers out of me, and they're the ONLY answers that really work.

It was a partnership of trust that took a while to build, he trusted me to tell him everything, what happened and how I felt, as I was ready to do so.
I trusted him to not judge me, I trusted him to gently lead and encourage me down different avenues of thought until I discovered the answers for myself. And every one I found became a major step for me, I thought I was discovering and figuring things out for the very first time in history. I wasn't, many men have been there before me, but that feeling of getting there by my own intellect was so enpowering.

One of my friends who's in the group sessions with me was seeing this same guy for 8 years, and I said to him last week "can you ever remember Charlie actually telling you to do something or telling you something as a fact ?" - and he couldn't.
What he did was affirm our thoughts and ideas, he didn't actually say "no, you're wrong there" either. He say something like "Is there another way of looking at that ?" and I'd have to push myself to explore further.

I went into therapy with an open mind, I hadn't got a clue what to expect and my only expectation was that maybe I'd get some sort of relief from the pain I was in. At that time suicide was looking like an improvement, so my expectations were extremely low.

My experience inspired me to start training as a counsellor and I now work as a supporter for other survivors at the charity until I hopefully qualify in a few years time.

I realise that this isn't the experience everyone can expect, but a therapist with the correct training should have the structure around them to support them in their work, and ensure that bad / malpractice doesn't occur. Therapists should only work if they believe in what they do, the good financial rewards some earn are a bonus that I don't object to. ( Many of the therapist who work for this charity give their time )
But like any profession there are charlatans, and the only thing to then is walk away.

but before you do that tell him EXACTLY what you feel and fear, be brutally honest with yourself and tell him your deepest fears, explain the emotions behind your doubts.

He can only work with what he's given. A good therapist is nothing more that a tool in your hands, and you have to learn some basic skills to handle that tool. In time you'll become a craftsman.


Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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