Guest Em


29 posts in this topic

Hey all

In light of a suggestion made that we all share knowledge of therapies with one another, I would like to propose that if at all possible, we write about our own experiences of therapy. This will hopefully enable those among us who are considering therapy to choose a therapist or therapeutic method.

With your permission, I would also like to include some of this material on <a href=""><b>Grrl Survivors</b></a>. If you don't want the material here [i'll post it under any name you prefer, and can remove all identifying details] that is absolutely fine.

<b>Possible questions to answer:</b>

<li>What kind of therapy(ies) have you experienced? e.g. Cognitive behavioural/humanistic/psychoanalysis

<li>How did you choose your therapist?

<li>Have you had bad experiences with therapists/ other professionals?

<li>Have you had bad experiences with different kinds of therapies?

<li>What is the single thing that you wish you had known before starting the process?

If you have any experience of <u>alternative therapies</u> please post in <b><a href="">this thread</b></a>.

Thanks so much


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The single thing I wish I'd known before entering therapy, is that I am in control of my theraputic process: not my counsellor. And I was just about to explain more on this, except an important visitor has just knocked and I have to go (!!!!).

Will return to finish this. Em, feel free to delete this (unfinished) entry. Lea.:)

(Edited by lea at 5:20 pm on Aug. 10, 2002)

(Edited by lea at 5:24 pm on Aug. 10, 2002)

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Therapy, I was never keen on the idea but I have found that over the years it will be a necessary evil in order to heal.

The therapy I seem to have experienced the most is cognitive.  My therapist at the time said that this was probably the best method of treatment.  She said she wanted to change my thought process and she said she could see that I was an intelligent person.

I didn't have a choice whom to pick for my therapist as my insurance company did that for me.  For the most part prior to having to stop due to loss of insurance, it seemed to be a good fit even though we didn't always see eye to eye on things.

With other therapists that I had, yes there were bad experiences, especially when I was growing up.  My one therapist was reporting everything to my parents what was said and they would tell the therapist that I was out of my mind and she believed them.

I wish I knew just how much it was going to hurt before I started the process.  I also wish I knew that it was going to drudge up some other stuff that I would have preferred not to remember.  

If I can find another therapist like the last one I had, I will go for it.  I will be looking when I move home soon.

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(((((Em))))) This idea is very helpful being where i am at right now.

Can someone explain what the different types are please? Only i have no idea. I was just going with what i was offered



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Good thread!

I have thought about this a lot, because I am really sorry that it took me 17 years to get the kind of therapy I needed, and my self and personality did not have to be warped so far off of the "main" track.

In '84 I began crisis counseling at a rape crisis centre for "Rape Trauma Syndrome". I was in therapy once a week for about 12 months. The major framework was cognitive therapy, but with a heavy social/feminist/political overlay. Overall, I felt that they managed to give me enough first aid that I didn't actually suicide, although there were 3 attempts that year. We never went deep, and in the push to give me good strong messages, I feel that I was not allowed to explore "non-PC" feelings of shame, guilt, pollution, etc... The overall effect was that I felt even more guilty because I couldn't get with the program and feel like a "proud survivor". There counselors were lay people, and I often felt bad because I could sense that they were overwhelmed, feeling helpless, and I think shocked at the crime, and my reactions. Not a great experience. No medications or referrals were made to professional resources - which I needed.

Then, after telling me that I was so fucked up that it couldn't be just because of being raped, and I must have been fucked up before, I was shifted to long term counseling. I don't know who this lady was, or what she was trying to do with me, but she was very challenging and confrontational over my "wrong thought patterns". We got nowhere at all. Then she said I should try group therapy so that i would see that what happened to me was in no way unique.

After I spoke for the first time there, the leader, (lay-leader) remarked that I was lucky I was only raped and injured once by a stranger, that I should heal much faster then the women there who had been molested by family members. I was not feeling lucky though. I just felt guilty for being so messed up when I had "only" been raped. I felt disentitled to my pain and the opposite of supported.

I left, never went back, stopped looking for other survivors, and perhaps not coincidentally, tried to kill myself for the last time later that week.

So, overall , my assessment is, barely adequate first aid, did some additional damage, too focused on the politically correct way to react and respond to rape, and I feel that lay counselors even with the best of intentions are not the people who should be giving therapy.

I went into therapy 3 more times for acute depression over the years. In none of the cases was any connection made between depression and being raped. I was describing amnesia, losing time, hyper vigilance, depression, nightmares, dissociation, and depersonalization AND I had revealed my rape and subsequent RTS, no connection was made and I never heard the phrase PTSD.

FINALLY, in 2000, a good friend of mine who happens to be a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst from Argentina agreed to take me in therapy, and we have been using psychotherapy ever since. I have come a LONG way since then, and I WISH I had been able to get this kind of help earlier. Just learning about PTSD has been amazingly therapeutic, my life makes sense now. We did about a year of stabilizing, and tracking the triggers and patterns back to the origin point. Now we are doing the heavy memory work, and as it goes on, I feel raw and in pain, but also lighter and more in control of myself... not so much like I am boxing with invisible fighters who can hit me with no warning and no way to figure out where it’s going to come from next.

Remembering, feeling, and understanding. That is my answer. No PC or Non-PC. Just honest supported exploration and a drive to heal, even if it means rebreaking the badly healed bone, so it can be reset to finally heal properly - maybe even stronger then it would have been if it had never been broken.

I hope this helps others.


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Please feel free to disregard this information if you so wish. An ex-counsellor of csa gave me this advice and it helped me find a counsellor and look at therapy from a new perspective:

1) Try to find someone local. You may not be up to traveling far after therapy.

2) Searching for a therapist:

a) PRIVATE: The BACP (British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy) provides a list of therapists in your chosen area via their web site . Info includes qualifications, experience, prices, chosen theoretical approach & contact details.

b) NHS: Referral is made via your G.P. This may include social services being informed, which is not appropriate for everyone. Alternatively, check out voluntary/charitable organizations that provide counselling free of charge. They will also have info on other services, if theirs is unsuitable for you.

3) Instead of booking a first session with a new T, first telephone and ask for a free half-hour appointment, just to see how you both get on, and to ask questions you may have. This is a sensible & acceptable request that  a good T will be happy to do. Take a list of questions with you. See how you feel. The most important thing is that you feel comfortable with your T. If you do not, you will not be able to form the trusting relationship you need for therapy to work.

Possible questions could be: A) Price. If a therapist charges between £15 - £25, how much will you pay? Some T’s allow the client to choose whatever they can afford between this scale. Say if you cannot afford the higher amount. B) Qualifications. You may want verification of these. C) Experience. How much have they had? In what area’s? In what capacity? D) Confidentiality. A good T will want to reassure you of this - do they keep notes? Do they have a supervisor? Is there an instance where they would break confidentiality, & if so, under what circumstance? E) From what theoretical approach do they work? What does this encompass? F) A ‘put them on the spot’ question - i.e., why did you decide to enter counselling? See how they react.

By this time, you should have a rapport going with the T, focusing on gaining useful information takes the emphasis away from feeling you have to ‘spill the beans’ about your whole life on an initial visit. You do not. Also, you are assessing the T as much as being assessed yourself, and this gives you control. It also saves on the emotional upheaval of going from T to T. It can be daunting to reveal a lot of yourself only to realise, 2 sessions in, that you don’t want to be with this T after all.

4) Do not make a snap decision. Thank the T for their time and let them know you will get back to them when you’ve had time to think and checked out other counsellors (if you wish to do so).

5) Checking out other counsellors allows you to compare styles and personalities and this can give insight into who you feel comfortable with the most.

6) If at any time you have difficulty speaking to a T , consider asking someone who you trust to make the initial phone call, or attend the visit with you. Alternatively, consider writing a letter, or asking a friend to, as a way of communication. Remember that if you are afraid at any time, this is part of the therapeutic process, i.e., a good T will understand this and therefore, should take steps to ensure you feel as comfortable as possible.

7) Once a decision is made and you have your first appointment, remember a Golden Rule: YOU are in control of your therapy. This does not mean you will never feel vulnerable, part of building a trusting relationship is that we can feel our deepest fears with someone who can look after us as we do so. What it does mean is that YOU control the pace, the content, what to deal with etc. Look at it this way, when you come to Pandy’s, you choose what forum you wish to go in, what posts, if any, you wish to read and/or reply to. What topics to raise, what topics to avoid, whether you feel like chatting live, whether you just feel like browsing. This is being in control. Because you are the person who can best make these decisions. Now, imagine coming to Pandy’s, and a moderator (sorry all!) telling you what topic you will read, discuss etc, which forum you can enter. Why should it be any different in therapy?

Love Lea. :)

(Edited by lea at 9:18 pm on Aug. 10, 2002)

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((sami100))  ((everyone))

This explanation of theoretical approaches is taken from the BAC web site:

Both counsellors and psychotherapists work from a variety of theoretical approaches with their clients. These therapies range from the type of psychoanalysis, originally practised by Sigmund Freud and later developed into other forms of analytic psychotherapy by his pupils, through humanistic psychotherapy (based on personal growth and self development) to the behavioural therapies used for dealing with specific phobias and anxieties.

The following is an alphabetical list of commonly used theoretical approaches with brief descriptions of their meanings:

Adlerian therapy

This is sometimes called individual psychology and uses the personality theory and system of counselling originated by Alfred Adler. Rather than psychoanalysis, Adler placed greater emphasis on infantile experiences of power and powerlessness and the goal-orientation of human behaviour. He created the terms “inferiority complex” and “superiority complex”.

Behavioural therapy

This therapy is based on the belief that behaviour is learnt in response to past experience and can be unlearnt, or reconditioned, without analysing the past to find the reason for the behaviour. It works well for compulsive and obsessive behaviour, fears, phobias and addictions.

Brief therapy (see also Solution focused brief therapy)

This uses the cognitive behavioural approach with a small, planned number of sessions and possibly a single follow-up session after some time has elapsed.

Client-centred counselling (see Person-centred counselling)

Cognitive analytical therapy

This combines cognitive therapy and psychotherapy and encourages clients to draw on their own resources to develop the skills to change destructive patterns of behaviour. Negative ways of thinking are explored and treatment is structured and directive involving diary-keeping, progress charts, etc.

Cognitive behavioural therapy

This combines cognitive and behavioural techniques. Clients are taught ways to change thoughts and expectations and relaxation techniques are used. It has been effective for stress-related ailments, phobias, obsessions, eating disorders and (at the same time as drug treatment) major depression.

Cognitive therapy

Uses the power of the mind to influence behaviour. It is based on the theory that previous experiences can adversely affect self-perception and condition attitude, emotions and ability to deal with certain situations. It works by helping the client to identify, question and change self-denigrating thoughts, thus altering habitual responses and behaviour. It can help pessimistic or depressed people to view things from a more optimistic perspective.

Eclectic counselling

An eclectic counsellor will select what is applicable to the client from a range of theories, methods and practices. Justification is based on the theory that there is no proof that any one theoretical approach works better than all others for a specific problem.

Existential counselling

Existentialists believe that life has no essential (given) meaning: any meaning has to be found or created. Existential counselling involves making sense of life through a personal world view and includes a willingness to face one’s life and life problems.

Gestalt therapy

The name is derived from the German for “organized whole”. Developed by Fritz Perls, it is based on his belief that the human response to experiences is summed up in a person’s thoughts, feelings and actions. The client gains self-awareness by analysing behaviour and body language and giving expression to repressed feelings. Treatment often includes acting out scenarios and dream recall.

Humanistic psychotherapy

This embraces techniques coming from the “personal growth movement” and encourages people to explore their feelings and take responsibility for their thoughts and actions. Emphasis is on self-development and achieving highest potential rather than dysfunctional behaviour. “Client-centred” or “non-directive” approach is often used and the therapy can be described as “holistic”. The client’s creative instincts may be used to explore and resolve personal issues.

Integrative counselling

This is when several distinct models of counselling and psychotherapy are used together in a converging way rather than in separate pieces.

Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP)

NLP combines cognitive behavioural and humanistic therapies with hypnotherapy. It works on the theory that life experiences, from birth onwards, programme the way a person sees the world. The practitioner helps the client to discover how he (or she) has learnt to think or feel so that he can take control of his actions. The client is taught how to change speech and body language in order to communicate better and bring about personal change.

Person-centred counselling

Devised by Carl Rogers and also called “client-centred” or “Rogerian” counselling, this is based on the assumption that an individual (client), seeking help in the resolution of a problem he (or she) is experiencing, can enter into a relationship with another individual (counsellor) who is sufficiently accepting and permissive to allow the client to freely express emotions and feelings. This will enable the client to come to terms with negative feelings, which may have caused emotional problems, and develop inner resources. The objective is for the client to become able to perceive himself as a person, with the power and freedom to change, rather than as an object.

Primal therapy

This is based on the theory that suppressed birth or infancy traumas can resurface as neuroses. The therapy takes the client back to the “primal scene” where trauma can be re-experienced as an emotional cleansing.


This is based on the work of Sigmund Freud, who believed that the unacceptable thoughts of early childhood are banished to the unconscious mind but continue to influence thoughts, emotions and behaviour. “Repressed” feelings can surface later as conflicts,depression, etc or through dreams or creative activities. The analyst seeks to interpret and make acceptable to the client’s conscious mind, troublesome feelings and relationships from the past. “Transference” onto the analyst, of feelings about figures in the client’s life, is encouraged. This type of therapy is often used by clients suffering high levels of stress and can be a lengthy and intensive process.

Psychodynamic psychotherapy/counselling

This approach stresses the importance of the unconscious and past experience in determining current behaviour. The client is encouraged to talk about childhood relationships with parents and other significant people and the therapist focuses on the client/therapist relationship (the dynamics) and in particular on the transference. Transference is when the client projects onto the therapist feelings experienced in previous significant relationships. The psychodynamic approach is derived from Psychoanalysis but usually provides a quicker solution to emotional problems.


Sometimes described as “psychology of the soul”, Psychosynthesis aims to integrate or “synthesize” the level of consciousness, at which thoughts and emotions are experienced, with a higher, spiritual level of consciousness. Painting, movement and other techniques can be used to recognize and value different facets of the personality. Psychosynthesis is useful for people seeking a new, more spiritually oriented vision of themselves.


In this approach, emotional or physical traumas during birth are said to create feelings of separation or fear in later life. Breathing techniques are used to release tension whilst the client re-experiences traumatic emotions. A skilled practitioner is essential.

Solution-focused brief therapy

This promotes positive change rather than dwelling on past problems. Clients are encouraged to focus positively on what they do well and to set goals and work out how to achieve them. As little as 3 or 4 sessions may be beneficial.

Systemic therapies

These are the therapies which have, as their aim, a change in the transactional pattern of members. It can be used as the generic term for family therapy and marital therapy.

Transactional analysis

This is based on the belief that everyone has a child, adult and parent self within them and, within each social interaction, one self predominates. By recognising these roles, a client can choose which one to adopt and so change behaviour. This form of therapy has produced the term “inner child”, used to describe unfulfilled needs from childhood.

Transpersonal therapy

This describes any form of counselling or therapy which places emphasis on spirituality, human potential or heightened consciousness. It includes psychosynthesis.

If anyone's interested, my therapy is person-centered!.

Love Lea.

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Talking therapy, as oppose to 'working' therapy, was not working for me. Having acquired v.good coping skills over years of being self-reliant, as well as my own 'philosophy' on life, this strength became my weakness on entering therapy: I wasn't willing to break down my defenses and show raw feelings in front of my therapist.

I took control by deciding to write a book about me. I bought a huge pink file, lots of creative material, and set about writing my memories down, my poems, drawing my dreams, collecting photo's of my 'growing up', creating time-lines etc.

I slowly add bits to the file. I decorated the file, with a collage on the back of a fairytale house, to dispell Myth 1 that the home is a sacred place (I survived incest). I printed my favourite quote on the spine:

I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat ~ Rebecca West, 1892 - 1983. (Yes, I'm a closet feminist).

But this wasn't enough. I decided to buy clay and dispell Myth 2 that fathers don't molest daughters, by making a model of a bed with a father and daughter in it. Or rather two lumply looking things with acorn-style haircuts.

The result was astonishing. For one who finds it difficult to open up in therapy, I have been overcome by all kinds of feelings and memories. While creating, I am engrossed, I don't think: I just 'do', make whatever idea I have become real.

But after making the bed, I felt physically ill. I hate the sight of it. I hate the yellow bedspread & pretty flowers and blue headboard. I am angry. I want to smash it. It produces a very strong reaction that I can work with. It made me aware that I am afraid, and I swore blind in all therapy sessions that I'm not afraid of my father.

Then I made a greivance necklace for Myth 3 - families support you - it's clay beads, for each time my family did not support me, and they are coloured in different emotions - blue for sorrow, red for anger, black for grief, etc.

The whole thing has started rolling and I'm enthused with ideas. The hardest thing is to make a representation of myself - I get images of broken dolls in my mind, and I now realise how much I dislike myself, whereas I didn't realise this before.

And how the file comes together is revealing to. My dreams are in colour text in nice font, laminated, and put in like my poems - but the part of the abuse, I tie the pages together in pink ribbon, and want to put cotton wool over the pages for the dark images and depths of my personal anguish, I feel, need to be protected. And it isn't surprising this section is the least full.

I had to think of chapters, such as 'friends', 'my homes', 'dreams' etc, and this made me think of how I view my life, where I lay my priorities.

Anyhow, I leave my file and made objects with my therapist, as if I'm trusting her with parts of myself, & take stuff over to hers that I've worked on at home.

And the point of all this is that therapy has completely changed around for me. I am getting in touch with real raw emotion and I envisage a day when that file is full of all I want to deal with, and my story is told, and my poor therapists desk is full of odd looking creations. And I know in my heart when that day comes, I will be able to say 'I am whole again, this book is who I am', and I'll feel healed. And I'll break that fucking bed. Sorry.

This has made therapy fun for me also, which is important because part of healing is reclaiming my lost childood. And I'm constantly being forced to re-assess my perceptions of things, as each new defense is knocked down. I'm thinking & feeling things I didn't know about - I guess this working art-therapy works for me because I can intellectualize about my abuse very well - but being purely creative bypasses the 'thinking process' for me, and gives me something tangible to work with, it makes the abstract into something material.


The clay bed is now safely put away in my therapists home. I realise that not only does it make me afraid, but it makes me angry. Angry that my sexuality was stolen from me by my father. When I have dealt with my fear, I will deal with my anger ~ by smashing the bed to bits.

My therapist asked questions about the collage I made of my fairytale home. I didn't know that from a psychoanalytical point of view, the house represents the person who draws it.  Well, it is isolated, windows & doors shut, hard to get to, cut off from other people & surrounded in magical fairies.  Go figure.

I still talk in therapy & try to cling on to my old thinking patterns... but the more I get in touch with my feelings thru creativity, the more these perceptions of mine are tested and changed. I feel like I'm slowly waking up from a bad dream, and seeing the world through new eyes.

Lea. :)

(Edited by lea at 10:45 pm on Aug. 10, 2002)

(Edited by lea at 10:47 pm on Aug. 10, 2002)

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I decided to edit this post because I summed up bad experience in a different reply, and I'd prefer to do that than list individual accounts. What I have learned is to stand up for myself more, recognise when I need help and not being afraid to ask for it, and that I am responsible for my healing, not anyone else.

Love lea.

(Edited by lea at 3:35 am on Aug. 13, 2002)

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Thanks for the list Lea! And for sharing your experiences. <Empathy>


I think my therapy is Person-Centered Eclectic Psychoanalysis, if there is any such thing...


We have done art, poetry, writing, dream work, lots of talking, plenty of crying, and ritual creation.

I have always felt that I am walking MY path, but with a wise and unfailingly caring guide supporting me.


(Edited by Renata at 7:37 pm on Aug. 10, 2002)

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Your last sentence summed up beautifully what I mean when I mention being in control of your therapy.

And your therapy sounds amazing.

((hugs))  Love Lea.

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I've tried to study this, to decide on my own therapy.

Rape/abuse is a form of trauma.  The frequent result is PTSD.  

The research I could find said that medications are useful for stabilization, and that this should best be followed by cognitive-behavior therapy.  

One problem with PTSD is that the unresolved trauma is maintained in the unconscious parts of the brain, which makes treatment slow.  There are two techniques to speed up the process, both of which are aimed at moving the unconscious images into the conscious brain.

One of these alternative techniques is EMDR.  No one knows why this works, but there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that it does.

The other alternative technique is body therapy, which focuses on subtle body feelings and bringing these to greater awareness.  A Harvard professor named Vander Koch supports this.  (Do a search for "hakomi somatic therapy" for more info.)

Other therapies of course may work for other people.  What I did was to try to find those that are specifically aimed at trauma.

In choosing a therapist, you might look for one who specifically focuses on trauma.

In finding a T., I tend to rely on recommendations from other doctors and therapists.  I have had a lot of success with this technique, since they know the available network in the community.

For me, it would be impossible to deal with my issues without the support of a therapist.

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I've been seeing a social worker at my local assault centre for some time now, who has been immeasurably helpful for me. I didn't start therapy until more nearly a year after the assault, as I was scared of the whole idea. I found it helpful to be in quite a structured setting at first, where she planned out sessions, what we should work on, with assignments and all. Now I've learned to identify what is troubling me, and I can bring it up, and am learning to express it and find the solutions myself with her guidance - and so will soon be able to leave her as I will have developed the skills necessary to cope on my own.

She leaves in the summers, however, so I switch to another woman in the same office then, if I need to speak with someone during that time. Both are becoming much like surrogate mums to me. Simply amazing young women.

(Edited by Anna at 2:12 pm on Oct. 26, 2002)

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Your counsellor's sound great. My counsellor is the same in that she guides me to find my own answers, and doesn't tell me what I should do. She is a 'person-centered' counsellor, which comes from Carl Rogers (There's a list somewhere above which outlines different therapy's, taken from the BAC web site). Maybe yours is too (you could always ask her!). Basically, they believe that a person has the answers within themselves, that they have the power to change their lives within themselves, as oppose to being told what they should do.

I'm so happy you found these counsellors. Your last bit about 'feeling' right and going with this instinct, is spot on - it's the most important thing, and knowing you don't have to 'stick' with a counsellor and can move on is important too - you sound in control of your process and these people sound like great guides. I'm very happy for you and wish you luck (and everyone else) in their healing.

Love Lea. :)

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<b>What kind of therapy(ies) have you experienced? e.g. Cognitive behavioural/humanistic/psychoanalysis</b>

I have been in a person-centred group therapy [for a fixed period of ten weeks], and have just started open-ended one-on-one therapy with a person-centred therapist.

A few years ago I also saw a psychiatrist for several months, but apart from the irritating and stupid things he said, I really can't remember much of the sessions. I don't think he provided any 'therapy' at all, per se.

<b>How did you choose your therapist?</b>

I tried to contact the Rape Crisis Centre for therapy, but I had no luck with them. The Rape Crisis centre in my city seems severely underfunded, and despite trying to make contact with them on several occasions over a period of years, no one was ever available to speak to me. If I had been more persistent, I might have had more luck.

I found the organization that provides me w/therapy online, and pretty much by chance. Although they are a publicly-funded centre specifically for counselling women who've experienced rape/CSA, none of my doctors appear to have heard of them, or at least failed to refer me.

They offer art-therapy groups, person-centred groups, and short-term or open-ended person-centred therapy. One of the difficulties of living in the UK is that we are a less therapy-oriented culture. There just aren't enough professionals, and finding them is very very difficult.

En route to finding mine, I was referred to a psychoanalyst [who I failed to go see, the idea of psychoanalyis just seemed too appalling], and I tried to contact a therapist who a friend had seen for non-survivor issues. Although the wait was extremely frustrating [i was on a waiting list for over 18 months] I'm glad that I have quality care with someone who knows what they're doing.

<b>Have you had bad experiences with therapists/ other professionals?</b>

Oh yes.

When I originally began experiencing my last major depressive episode, one of my friends dragged me to my GP. I told this GP about the abuse. She presribed Prozac and told me she would refer me to a psychiatrist. When I went back a month later to renew my script, she had left the practice, and I saw a new doc, who I'd never met before. She asked me to come back at the end of the day. I did, and she told my that ADs wouldn't help me, and nor would a psych, and that she could 'cure me' in an hour, using EMDR. I was mildly freaked by this, but totally lost it when she told me what I had to do to effect this 'cure' i.e. talk about massive traumas right then and there. I burst into tears, and refused to leave her office until she'd referred me to said psych and refilled my script. She was furious that I wouldn't go through with the EMDR, she said I was wasting a golden opportunity to work with an 'expert'. Her parting shot as I left her office, in tears, in front of the whole waiting room, was 'You'll be dead by Christmas'.

My psych was doubtless well meaning, but seemed totally incompetent. His solution to everything was to increase my ADs dose. He wanted to put me on lithium, which I refused. He also said that as I could have sex, there wasn't really anything left to 'fix' with regards my abuse.

<b>Have you had bad experiences with different kinds of therapies?</b>

Not really, although it irritated me that my group was so unfocussed. It was totally monopolized by one woman who talked for the majority of the time. I would have preferred something more structured, or at least facilitators who could get her to shut up.

[Er, that sounds less heartless if you know, as I do, that she told outrageous lies all through therapy, and tried to manipulate other group members into transferring property she purchased with stolen credit cards, into her name. She then faked a suicide attempt in an attempt to get one of the friends she made through group to assume responsibility for all her billpaying and other household running tasks.]

<b>What is the single thing that you wish you had known before starting the process? </b>

How stressful the first few sessions were going to be, so I could have eased up on some of my commitments. I [arrogantly] thought that I could breeze through therapy. Hahahahahahahaha.

Aside from that [and to be fair, I wouldn't have listened to anyone who had told me it would be hard], I have taken great comfort in the lessons that some of the sisters here have taught me about therapy. I feel very confident about articulating my needs, and very aware that it's *my* time. I think that's the best thing I could possible know.

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That G.P sounds like a complete idiot. I'm glad you never went thru treatment with her. And yes, psychiatrists are pretty crap with therapy, in my experience.

Have you had bad experiences with therapists/ other professionals?

The first time I attempted suicide I was put in hospital for 6 days and taken to see a psychiatrist for an assessment. They put me in a room with a two-way mirror (like I couldn't tell) and a locked door (?). The room had a huge desk and chair that the psychiatrist sat in, while I was in a chair stuck in the corner by the plastic pot plants.

Keeping a face so straight you'd think he was inhuman, and casually touching his glasses now and then, he asked me why I'd tried to kill myself.

I told him a lie, the lie I'd been told to say by my family, so that my father would be protected. He bought it. No questions asked. I was let home, and returned 18 months later after a further suicide bid.

This time a social worker came in, threw her card at me, said 'give your baby up for adoption, you obviously can't take care of yourself' and walked out. My assessment with a psychiatrist (not the same one) lasted 2 minutes. 'You need to take up a hobby' he said 'like knitting'.

They let me out. I never went back to my G.P or the N.H.S for years thru disgust at the incompetent way I was handled. Then I tried when I was older and in a relationship, I wrote a letter to my G.P asking for counselling. He sent me to another psychiatrist at the hospital, but every time I mentioned the word 'sex' his face went red, then he started going on about how he and his wife love England, and they're so glad they emigrated here, he offered me a place in the hospital but I refused, it wasn't necessary for me at that time and I was not willing to let my kids into care. Being an outpatient at the hospital was not a choice offered.

But I have to say that now I have found the right therapist, my first real one to be honest, all my doubts have been brushed aside. She is really great and I think it's the best thing I could have done, I don't think I'd be here if I hadn't. All I really needed was someone to talk to. Someone I could trust.

Love Lea. :)

(Edited by lea at 1:15 pm on Aug. 11, 2002)

(Edited by lea at 3:16 am on Aug. 13, 2002)

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Here's my response

What kind of therapy(ies) have you experienced? e.g. Cognitive behavioural/humanistic/psychoanalysis

My most wonderful positive experiences have been with:

person-centered, systems oriented therapy - this guy was very good - he also has a large part of his practice built around cliets who experiences sexual assault froma previous therapist.

cognitive therapy - this was my most recent one-on-one experience and I loved it.  I felt like it didn't just bring up all my life garbage, but helped me figure out what to do with it, and to change some pretty major things about me - like the way I think...

group therapy with an hour of therapuetic yoga/hour of talk - this was unbelieveably healing.  my idea of #### used to be group therapy.  it was a small group of women and the yoga really focused on the mind/body connection.

How did you choose your therapist?

First time - someone I met - bad choice.Second time - Personal referral from someone I knew

Third time - I found out about a local university professor who worked in the area of csa and sa, called her and asked who was good in my area to work on specific issues.

Fourth time - through a university research project.  Wanted the medication side of the project - got the therapy - one of the best things that ever happened to me.

Have you had bad experiences with therapists/ other professionals?

Bad experiences with a therapist

I just want to share a warning with everyone reading this thread...

Therapy should NEVER include ANY SEXUAL CONTACT WHATSOEVER.  This is a clear cut ethical violation of the guidelines of any therapuetic field - social, psychiatry, psychology, counseling, pastoral counseling, any aspect of theat field.  If a therapist ever crosses that line, leave immediately and don't look back.  Press charges if you can, but by all means your priority to protect yourself.

Other warning signs - The therapist's door is locked in the room where your session takes place or s/he positions himself/herself in a way that s/he blocks the door - there should always be an easy path to leave the room without barriers, any physical contact that makes you feel uneasy - that should never take place and is a clear violation of your personal boundaries.  Therapy is an emotionally intense encounter for both people involved.  It is vital that anyone doing therapy have strong boundaries, especially since many survivors do not.  There is never an excuse for a therapist crossing a line and there should never be a second chance given for any violation of that ethical boundary.

Also - when someone in a helping profession tells you they have the skills, knowledge and educational background to help you know how to heal, it becomes a client/therapist relationship at that point.  If this person is a "friend" or someone you are dating - they have already crossed a professional ethical guideline.  Paying or not, it is an offer of services and the relationship dramatically changes as a result of the offer of services.

Sex or sexual contact of any kind with a therapist is NEVER a good thing.

Have you had bad experiences with different kinds of therapies?

Since the rape, I have been very careful about what I have done.  even though the research project was rather blind (and I was hoping to get the anti-depressant medication) I checked out my therapist before I jumped into do the really hard work.

What is the single thing that you wish you had known before starting the process?

Where to go for quality help without having to have a huge bank account.

Always get a referral

(Edited by linnea at 8:41 am on Aug. 13, 2002)

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When I started college, I began seeing a therapist on campus to help me deal with the childhood abuse.  He sexually abused me for 4 years.  He also had control of my mind, and abused me verbally and spiritually as well.  It has devastated me.  I had finally found someone that I could trust after years of childhood sexual, physical and verbal abuse, and once again, received more abuse.

I went to several counselors and psychologists to deal with the devastation from my college therapist, but couldn't stick with them because I was so fearful of being hurt again.

I now have a woman counselor who is wonderful.  She runs a Christian ministry center and charges no fee - she depends on donations only.  We talk through my memories and she prays for me.  She has been the answer to my prayers for healing.

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*t* for real words

How did you choose your therapist?

My second attempt at therapy was a complete failure. (The first was as well, but not particularly memorable. I simply wasn’t ready to talk.) I had asked a family friend, who was also a therapist, for a referral because I felt strong enough, finally, to deal with my history. But by the time she got back to me, weeks later, I had gone through a series of life-altering catastrophes. I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. I’m still not entirely sure how I did; my memories from this time are nebulous.

Have you had bad experiences with therapists/ other professionals?

I made an appointment and started seeing the therapist, a woman. I felt uncomfortable with her but chalked it up to my own distressed state and the fact that I was trying to talk for the first time. At the close of the second session, during which we talked about my family and lack of communication and such, she snapped at me “I thought you came here because you were raped. You wanted to talk about being raped.”

This is a hard word for many of us; it was (and still is) for me. Having someone spit it at me like that was shocking to say the least.

Another few appointments and I was struggling, in her office, in life. I was suicidal and was afraid to tell her. I didn’t trust her and I felt like she was not interested in me, that she didn’t remember what I told her from one week to the next. Her irritation with my discomfort about my rape was obvious; I felt like she wanted me to talk only so she could study my experience from a clinical perspective. (I don’t think she had ever worked with rape issues before. I never asked but I guessed this from comments of hers.)

One day as I was leaving – literally at the door – she said “Oh, how ARE you, by the way?”

I was confused. Strange question at the close of a therapy session and I paused, didn’t answer, trying to guess what she was asking about.  

“Didn’t you tell me last week that you had been assaulted at gunpoint the week before?”

No, that was not me. And if it had been, didn't she think it might merit more than a how-are-you at the door?

I went home, called her voice mail to cancel my next appointment, said I’d call back to reschedule and never did.

(Edited by Elle at 7:08 pm on Aug. 11, 2002)

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((((Lea))))  I know - I am SO blessed to have two great counselors to depend on right now. It's so rare for me to be so comfortable and open with people - I'm not sure if it's a change in me, or if they're really just so perfect - I'm leaning towards their perfection. :)

(Edited by Anna at 2:09 pm on Oct. 26, 2002)

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Twelve years ago I went through drug treatment.  When “they” took away my drugs :) I knew I had to work on what I was medicating.  My first therapeutic experience was awful.  I was then in a Christian based counseling program and the focus was more on my soul then on my emotions.  I moved on after a year.  I was diagnosed with MP then and I found that for working with CSA and MP issues I needed more then just talking.  I asked my therapist to help.  She suggested we start art therapy and EMDR.  The EMDR was great for when your having flashbacks because it lets the pictures happen like you are watching a movie and you can do it while you are safe in the office with your therapist.  

I love art therapy and incorporate my writing and art together.  That is something I can do anytime and it is helpful to have people to share it with but it is not always necessary to have an art therapist.

I have had two therapists since that time; both were trained in MP, EMDR, and art therapy.  I also use healing touch that is less invasive then massage.  Barbara Brennen School in NY trains people as does several other organizations.  

When I was assulted here six years ago I contacted the rape center and they were not helpful to me at all.  Their reason?  I was a CSA survivor!  As if CSA survivors never get raped.  What they did was start me on a trail of referals to useless therapist.  I tried three.  It was horrid.  None of those therapist would even talk to me about the MP and at that time, just after a rape, it was up in my face.  A short time later I found one of the therapist I was speaking of earilier.

Thanks for a great question, Em.

Take care,


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Hmmm... therapy. I read all the posts of you and I'm still amazed by how many ignorant and plain stupid therapists there are. My own experiences are a bit divers, I tried to  write them down below, sorry if it is a bit long.

Anyways, first time I tried therapy was in college. I was severely depressed and didn't know what I wanted anymore. I was thinking of changing my major or stopping college all together. The university I attended offered 5 sessions with a therapist for free, so I went there.

This therapist (a woman) made me fill in a form before the session with my life history (it had questions like: are your parents divorced, how many siblings do you have, but also Were you ever abused? How old were you? and so on). I came to the session to talk about my major and if I should change it, but we talked about the CSA the whole hour. I thought I should answer all questions she asked truthfully, so I did (I had never talked about the CSA in detail before). She asked very detailed questions in a very aggressive manner and concluded after the session (of 1 hour!!) that I had DID, because I looked at the floor the whole time, was hesitant in answering the questions, and showed no emotions. She also said that 5 sessions were a little short to deal with this, but that she would try.

I never went back, but she kept on phoning me at home and sending me letters. I heard she got fired later, but I never checked.

My second attempt at therapy was I think a year and a half later. I was not doing very well (I was severely depressed, did SI and stopped eating for a while). I got referred by my GP and this man was a very integer and very nice man, who could absolutely not deal with what happened to me. After three sessions he got ill and stayed ill for three months. This was rather sudden so he had had no time to refer me to someone else. After three months I had another session in which he told me that he could not deal with what happened to me and wanted to refer me to another therapist. He would contact one he thought was good, but before he could he got sick again.

Last therapist I had and still have I found myself about three years after the second one. I phoned her up and had a trial session first. I also phoned some other therapists, but I immediately like her very much so I only had one trial session. We mostly do psychoanalysis and she uses some techniques like hypnosis and creative therapy (because my boundaries are too high when talking and I'm smart enough to reason everything to death). the first year of therapy we just spent in building trust. She let me set all the boundaries and never crossed them (in four years of therapy she never even made an attempt at touching me). We worked a lot on setting boundaries in real life, on acknowledging my emotions (cause I would follow my mind only), and on working on the memories and effects of both the CSA as my medical history (I was hospitalised for a year at the age of three).

Anyway, this last therapy really helps me. I've changed so much in the last four years, that even people who barely know me notice the difference. Outwardly I'm a totally different person now, while inwardly I'm more self-assured and better able to set my boundaries.


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What is the single thing that you wish you had known before starting the process?

That therapy was in my control, that I was the person who could help myself, right from the beginning in going about choosing a therapist, and into the therapists room, where I'm allowed to be myself and will not be judged for being so. That the answers are all in me. That power is not dangerous, power is liberating, and neither does power have to hurt. I wish I'd known this beforehand, then I might not have been so afraid. What used to frighten me was losing my independance of mind, being persuaded by anothers opinions, being in someone else's control. That stopped me from seeking therapy.

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Hey all

I'd like to move this to 'Wonderful Threads', where it's open to the public.

If anybody would like to change their posts, or arrange to have them completely deleted, please PM me.



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I've got stuck in my therapy sessions in that I can't cry or show emotion, it gets stuck in my throat so that I cannot speak, and I hate silences...yet the emotion is too raw to let out - it just won't come out! Can anyone identify or help with this problem? It's been 5 months and I wish I knew how to deal with this,


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