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#1 Guest_lea_*

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Posted 10 August 2002 - 10:20 AM

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)

#2 Guest__*

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Posted 10 August 2002 - 11:09 AM

(((((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


#3 Guest_lea_*

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Posted 10 August 2002 - 02:05 PM


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 www.bac.co.uk . 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)

#4 Guest_lea_*

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Posted 10 August 2002 - 03:44 PM


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)

#5 Guest_lea_*

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Posted 10 August 2002 - 04:49 PM


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.

#6 Guest__*

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Posted 11 August 2002 - 12:04 AM

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)

#7 Guest_Em_*

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Posted 11 August 2002 - 05:35 AM

<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.

#8 linnea

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Posted 11 August 2002 - 07:44 AM

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)

#9 Elle

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Posted 11 August 2002 - 03:40 PM

*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)

#10 Guest__*

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Posted 12 August 2002 - 12:38 AM

((((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)

#11 Guest__*

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Posted 12 August 2002 - 04:08 AM

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.


#12 Guest_Em_*

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Posted 13 August 2002 - 02:49 AM

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.


#13 linnea

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Posted 30 September 2002 - 06:34 AM

I think you just have to wait it out and don't try to force it.  There will come a time that you will cry a river and wonder if you will ever stop.  I didn't cry in therapy until after the whole story was told.  It was almost as if I needed to do the telling and still find therapy to be a safe, accepting place.  If I had been able to cry or show emotion in therapy, I don't think I ever could have gotten through it - so perhaps it served a purpose for me.

It will come when you are ready.

#14 Guest__*

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Posted 07 October 2002 - 08:57 AM

Okay, I'll give it a try, may edit it later though as I don't think that right now is the best time to answer therapy questions :oP

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

The T I saw has been working most of her career with children and teenagers, and she used different approaches, but hadn't decided what to do with me yet (after about 6 or 8 sessions) So far she's tried behavioural and something she called focussing, don't know where that would fit

How did you choose your therapist?

I didn't choose LOL
I went to a psychiatrist because I wanted meds to stabilise me a bit, and she only prescribed them under the condition that I also see a therapist to which she referred me

Have you had bad experiences with therapists/ other professionals?

Yup...the psychiatrist I'm seeing doesn't take me seriously at all, her standard answer is "There's nothing I can do about this or that, it will come when you make progress in therapy" and switching meds b/c of side effects or b/c they don't help as well as demanding additional meds (sleeping pills) seems to be a big sin

The first and so far only therapist I've been seeing asked me about 7273198 triggering questions on about every detail of the abuse, basically focussed on how I could let him do that to me which to her was "surprising", almost never gave me the chance to bring up anything that was important to me and seemed just clueless most of the time. Before really starting T (after the evaluation sessions) she told me out of the blue that I couldn't continue because she was retiring and this was the last session, not without telling me that I should find a new T asap (average waiting lists are about 3 months) because I'm "extremely in need of treatment"

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

That it's about me and I shouldn't accept everything just because I want to heal....also that I should trust my gut instincts


#15 Guest_Em_*

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Posted 10 August 2002 - 10:09 AM

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="http://www.grrlsurvi...rs.org"><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="http://www.welcometo...&topic=33">this thread</b></a>.

Thanks so much

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