This Therapist Caused Depression & Suicide Attempts!

I have an excellent psychologist I see for therapy currently and have worked with her for over 5 years on many issues, especially PTSD.  I feel fortunate to have found the right one for me, as I have been through some unqualified and useless therapists throughout the years.  You truly have to ensure you and your therapist are the “right fit” for therapy to be successful, or it can be harmful.  I didn’t always feel this way, my first attempt turned my world upside down…

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In 1994, I sought out therapy for childhood sexual abuse, and in hindsight I believe it was a horrible decision to make.  Digging into the past with therapy can alleviate the triggers of flashbacks, unspeakable dreams and memories, however, recognizing when life is becoming unmanageable, it’s time to discontinue or “back off” therapy in my opinion.

I met Betty in 1994. Crying spells were occurring at home, work, while driving – I honestly thought I was losing it.  An ad in our newspaper seeking volunteers through the hospital psychology department were to partake in a study, asking if, “Are you experiencing flashbacks, troubling dreams or nightmares?” interested me,  HOWEVER, ANSWERING THIS AD WAS TO BE THE BIGGEST MISTAKE OF MY ENTIRE LIFE.   I knew nothing of therapy, and finally met up with Betty, a therapist, who surmised individual therapy would be best suited.  She said it was called Psychodynamic psychotherapy.

As weeks progressed and months rolled on, I was stepping one foot deeper into choppy waters.  The childhood sexual abuse issue, (PTSD) post-traumatic stress disorder, in retrospect, I wished I had let ‘sleeping dogs lie’, as these sessions left me exhausted with horrid crying outbursts and next a giant spiral into a deep, deep depression.

Depression became so severe that it was debilitating and incapacitating with hospitalization ordered.  The ball started rolling into a new life; a black, muddy life spent in multiple hospitalizations, yet I still remained with Betty and therapy.  In retrospect, I don’t understand Betty’s thought process, and believe at this point she was way over her head and should have transferred my case to another therapist more qualified in PTSD.

Therapy was not therapeutic – it began a path – destroying everything in my life.  I was obsessed with suicidal thinking daily; taking too much of a toll on me, I wasn’t progressing, I was plummeting.  Sessions became 2X per week, with every session bringing vicious crying outbursts, inside and outside of her office.  Couldn’t my psychiatrist and her recognize this?  I ended therapy roughly at the five year mark; therapy was useless and she broke off the sessions.

I appreciate that no one, particularly a therapist, knows the outcome of a situation, yet a qualified therapist should recognize when her therapy is doing more harm than good.  Do I have this patient’s best interests at heart, or am I causing destruction?  I think the downfall with Betty was she didn’t show me better ways to cope and resolve problems, or set realistic goals.

Thanks to Betty and pdoc, I lost my career/my house close to foreclosing/hospitalized 33 times/77 ECT’s/attempted suicide 4 times/lived in the bottom of a black pit for 9 long years.  This could have been avoided with an experienced therapist  or perhaps I shouldn’t have dug into the past at all. Transference with Betty was also a huge issue.

~~~Deb

10 thoughts on “This Therapist Caused Depression & Suicide Attempts!

  1. SilverGirl says:

    Hi cherished79, thank you for following me. I have just popped in and been reading your posts :o)
    I too had several hopeless and damaging therapists and ones that I stayed too long with. One I saw every week for 5 years, she should have referred me on as I needed more help than she was capable. I also lost all my savings while seeing her.. She helped greatly to a degree.. but surely a good therapist knows when the therapy is over..
    I ended up delving into spiritual healing because traditional therapy didn’t give me all the answers… well that was quite an education. I did finally get the answers to my past but the woman practically unhinged me and I was dissociative for 2 years. I couldn’t function at all – I was totally ungrounded. Maybe she meant well but she has no idea how to support someone in a spiritual crisis.
    They all taught me something though and that was to keep yourself safe and listen to your gut instincts regarding anyone who tries to ‘heal’ you. I am so careful now and I’d never put my emotional, spiritual or physical health at risk by seeing some amateur or unbalanced person again.
    I do believe we have to re-visit our past to heal it, because In my case I couldn’t remember the abuse as I was too little – I needed the answers but not to dwell or live there. At some point hashing over and over the past is just plain damaging, keeps you traumatised and certainly not healing.
    Focusing on forgiving the actions of the weak people that abused you and creating a better future, now that is healing,

    Like

    • cherished79 says:

      It’s wonderful that you recognize it now, yet horrible thinking back to the harm done. I was so attached to that first therapist, that one day I saw her shopping with her daughter, and I was jealous, so upset and beside myself that I couldn’t function for days. In retrospect, I should have been aware that it was getting out of hand, but I was so needy for a “mother”, that I held on. But, as I said in my post, she should have recognized the signs.

      Actually, I’m coming to the end of the therapist I am seeing now, as we’ve covered so many things, especially the child abuse (PTSD). I still have to live with memories and flashbacks, but I now handle it better with the tools she gave me, and that is what therapy should be about, not a motherly figure or friend. It’s a strange relationship and too comfortable to fall into and very difficult to leave.

      Thanks so much for your comment, I appreciate it. Deb 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • SilverGirl says:

        It’s great you found a more professional and better match for a therapist.
        I also experienced transference, I fell madly in love with my male healer (I was needy for a father..). So painful… he didn’t have any professional boundaries and was married. I suspect he was sleeping with many of his vulnerable clients – thankfully I ‘knew’ not to go there, it took every ounce of my willpower though . Never wanted someone so much… embarrassing :o(
        He had previously been at medical doctor so knew about professional boundaries..
        The whole experience was just excruciatingly painful :o(

        I’m sorry about your past may your future be filled with light and love and good souls.

        Like

        • cherished79 says:

          Thanks for sharing, and it’s not embarrassing to find someone who’s reassured and validated your feelings, how else does one respond?
          Therapy can be painful, and not for the faint at heart, yet with the right therapist it’s worth it in the end. Really, I sometimes wonder if I didn’t seek therapy, would I have been a complete bitch, who never cared about herself, cried all of the time, hated her parents, had nightmares, flashbacks and memories and always wondered if it was tied to the sexual abuse?

          You stay strong too and keep in touch. hugs, Deb

          Liked by 1 person

  2. theraineyview says:

    Harmful psychodynamic therapy for abuse victims was all too common in the 80s and 90s. I went through a little of it at the hands of an amateur, someone close to me, and I wish I hadn’t.

    Like

    • cherished79 says:

      So true, and I wished I at least had the internet to explore what therapy was all about. (pros/cons) Not realizing how damaging it can be for dealing with abuse issues, I may have thought twice. Thanks for commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Amina Berg says:

    Wow, reading this just made me sad (and angry!). I’m so sorry for what you had to endure.
    I’m glad that you now have a capable therapist who will not do more good than harm.
    Beacause after all one is trusting that they know what they are doing.

    A.B.

    Like

    • cherished79 says:

      Very, very true. Back in the early ’90’s, there weren’t many resources to check out what therapy was all about, and in hindsight I wish I had have asked more questions, yet I didn’t know how deep therapy was going to take me. Thanks for commenting.

      Like

  4. alicewithptsd says:

    That sounds like a horrible situation. Really, the first thing in therapy that should happen is estsblishing safety and teaching coping skills. It makes me so angry she didn’t do this! And, as you said, sometimes when we dig into the past, we need to back off for a while. My T describes it as walking along the edge of a cliff, you can’t be too far from the edge because then you can’t process the trauma, but you cant get so deep into the trauma that you fall over the edge. If you start to go over, thats when it is time to work on safety and coping skills again. I don’t know, it makes sense to me, and i wish for you that therapist had known that.
    I’m sorry for all the additionsl pain caused by therapy. I hope things are feeling better now. Xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • cherished79 says:

      Thank you so much for such kind words. My therapist that I’m currently working with for other issues, would never have handled it this way. She is experienced in PTSD and eating disorders and we’ve discussed several times about my “bad” therapy, and how it almost destroyed me. Scary stuff.

      Liked by 1 person

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