If There Wasn’t Trauma Before, There Will Be After Visiting This Doctor

by admin on October 8, 2012

I decided I had to get help for my mental health. I was in a very bad place. So when a friend told me about a great place she had been to, I booked the first appointment of the day. This is because I get anxiety when I am in crowded rooms for a long period or time. The secretary informed me to be there at least 20 minutes early or I would be charged a late fee. I was there 30 minutes early, but they did not open their doors until 8:55 am. The Secretary was very snotty about me “being late”. I apologized and said that she didn’t open the doors until just a moment ago. The fee was thankfully removed.

I spent a good 20 minutes filling out paper work and expecting to see “Dr. Brown” any moment. While waiting I watched as a woman walked in looking as if she just rolled out of bed. She had on pajama pants and a T-Shirt and I heard the Secretary call her Dr. Brown. I had been waiting an hour total and the Doctor was just walking in. Mean while the waiting room was filling up with people, several waiting to see Dr. Brown. I wanted to walk out then, but I told myself that I had to get help.

After another 30 minutes she finally calls someone back, and even though I had been there first, that person wasn’t me. It took another hour for her to get to me and the first thing she asked is if I had been raped. I was shocked and I stammered no, I was just really depressed. I thought maybe this was a normal question until she said: it would have been much easier if you had. Then in the few minutes she had seen me she told me I had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder because it was “obvious I had been abused”. She also told me to “be on time”, they waved the fee this time but wouldn’t do it again. After waiting 2 hours my appointment lasted 15 minutes.

My appointments with Dr. Brown never went anywhere because I “wouldn’t admit to being abused” (because I never was).  After 5 sessions they (the snotty secretary) accused me of not paying and told me they were getting ready to send me to collections. I just turned around and walked away with out paying another cent. I went to my family doctor who was very unhappy with how I had been treated. She sent me to someone who was able to help me get into a much better place. They confirmed my suspicions that I did not have PTSD. Looking back I can see that I was treated pretty awful, I just lacked the knowledge and confidence to stand up for myself. I am in a much, much better place which is why I decided to submit this.    1002-12

About 15 years ago I knew a licensed counselor whose schtick was to tell new clients that it was obvious they had not been wanted by their parents.  She no longer works in the field…good riddance.

{ 78 comments… read them below or add one }

Bint October 8, 2012 at 5:17 am

This is horrific. Everything about it, from the lack of care in the administration to the sheer wickedness of someone being so unprofessional and doing Lord knows how much damage to people. Horrendous. The courage you had to go in the first place makes this even worse.

On a far, far less appalling experience that yet came from a professional, I went to a dentist once to see about some cosmetic work. The consultation consisted of me stuck in a chair while the dentist told me my teeth were horrific (they weren’t, I had just had one smashed out playing shinty!), then he said they made me ugly. I was ugly, he kept saying, because of my hideous teeth. When I left, I went around the corner, burst into tears, then phoned the reception and said she could take me off her records because nobody that horrible, unprofessional and cruel was getting a penny from me. She was mortified but she didn’t sound surprised. I pity anyone who ends up with that man, left scathing reviews about him and went somewhere else where they fixed it without a word. I hope everyone like him and your hideous doctor go out of business.

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agsdad99 October 8, 2012 at 5:32 am

Was there some crazy doctor teaching them this nonsense in med school? Because I swear I’ve had two that insisted I was abused too. Far from the truth! On top of that, it had nothing to do with the reason I was there.

I’m sorry you had such an awful experience. Front end staff can turn seeing even a good doctor into an ordeal.

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--Lia October 8, 2012 at 6:52 am

But you did stand up for yourself! When the receptionist accused you of being late, you did tell her that she’d just opened the door. When the doctor was obviously incompetent, you did walk out; you did refuse to pay any more, and you did report her to another professional. You did very well. Give yourself some credit.

There are horrible people in every field, but it hurts so much worse in the mental health one. I imagine we all have stories. Mine is minor, but I’ll share. At the opening of a session, I shared ordinary pleasantries with my therapist (a man; I’m female). I asked how he was, and he told me that his car had been broken into when he wasn’t in it, that it was horrible, and that it was like he’d been raped. A moment later as an afterthought, he asked if I’d ever been raped. To this day I wish I’d had the presence of mind to quiz him on how I hoped some day he’d be raped so he could make a fair comparison.

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Emmy October 8, 2012 at 7:22 am

I am a little confused. If the door was locked, and the secretary had to unlock it, how could she put the blame on OP for being late? Was the secretary already inside or did she come up to the door while the OP was standing there and unlock it? I think it would be unfair to actually charge a late fee unless it actually cost the doctor time. It is rather hypocritical to charge patients a late fee when the doctors are running behind schedule.

What an awful experience. The woman’s clothing said she didn’t care much for her job which was proven by her attitude. Really, she was hoping the OP was raped because it would be ‘easier’ for the therapist to work with her. I’m sorry the OP had a bad experience and I’m glad she stood up for herself and left a bad situation. This story goes to show how trusting your gut is important. It is sick that somebody dealing with those in a fragile state chooses to use and prey off of them instead of helping them.

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LeeLee88 October 8, 2012 at 7:29 am

Unfortunately, poor treatment such as this is par for the norm in my neck of the woods. We have many counsellors here who practice with a strict, undisclosed-until-you-walk-in religious stance, and so many people receive “treatment” where they are told it’s all their fault, they’ve sinned, or they’re not praying hard enough. It’s absolutely heartbreaking to see not only how cruel they can be, but how justified they feel when taken to task for it. Disgusting behavior, all around.

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CaffeineKatie October 8, 2012 at 7:40 am

How horrible–NO ONE deserves to be treated like this. It might be too late for the OP, but in the future please please please report these so-called professionals to their licensing boards!!! I know it’s hard to think of when you have been treated so horribly, but you can bet you aren’t the only one they are doing this to. If each abused patient files a report, they will add up to enough evidence to force authorities to pay attention. And you will have the satisfaction of standing up for yourself, even if it seems like they aren’t paying attention to your complaint.

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Just call me J October 8, 2012 at 7:51 am

Some psychologists are just in it for the money… and they can do a lot of damage to the people who come in to see them. I’m glad you eventually found someone who helped you, OP.

Years ago, before I had the support network of friends I have now, I needed a bit of help getting over my first serious breakup. I had insurance that covered talk-therapy, so I found a counselor to talk to. She eventually helped me feel better, despite almost constantly pushing me to go see someone who could prescribe pills (which my insurance didn’t cover).

However, she got downright angry when I got over the breakup, and told her I didn’t want to continue seeing her anymore. She had planned on me being her patient “indefinitely” as she “guided me step-by-step through a proper relationship” and got me “away from that internet nonsense” and “cured” my “abnormal” interest in video-games and science fiction…

I calmly told her I’d already made the decision to leave, and my life was mine to live – hobbies and all. She then accused me of just using her to get over the breakup, and said I’d “never find a man because of [my] weird hobbies”. I agreed (which threw her for a loop), thanked her for her time, made my final co-pay, and never saw her again.

As for her prediction of perpetual solitude? Well, I still play video-games, and I met my current boyfriend at a science-fiction convention.

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Lo October 8, 2012 at 8:01 am

It’s stories like this make me want to hug my therapist. (not permitted but he deserves it) The only reason people like this are able to keep practicing is because there is such a stigma about mental health and so many of the patients are vulnerable from their own issues that people may not even know they’re being mistreated, much less complain about it.

I am SO sorry for your experience.

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Helen October 8, 2012 at 8:25 am

Yikes. I’d have reported the doctor to the licensing board and the business to the BBB or Chamber of Commerce. What a nightmare!

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David October 8, 2012 at 8:38 am

I’m so glad the OP was able to find a good therapist after this experience.

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Jenny October 8, 2012 at 8:44 am

Agree with reporting this horribleness. It sounds like they were TRYING to make you go crazy. Here’s the deal with doctors and such: there are bad ones out there. If a dentist suddenly tells you that you need a ton of work done – make an appointment with another dentist. If a psychologist’s diagnoses seems really fishy to you, go see a different one. Worst case scenario – you pay extra to get something confirmed. But there are enough bad professionals out there that it’s worth it for your own health to get a second opinion.

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Jewel October 8, 2012 at 9:03 am

I worked in the scheduling/billing department for a mental health counseling clinic for several years. While most of the counselors were mentally healthy, a number of them had serious issues themselves. I’m not talking about situational depression or angst that may result from a divorce, a family member’s death, or other situational crisis (which many people experience in life), but rather, these people had serious chemical imbalances and other major mental issues.

I learned that it’s not uncommon for mentally ill people to train to be psychologists/psychiatrists so they can attempt to heal/understand their own condition while also desiring to help others the way someone helped them. Unfortunately, with training, they make the worst kind of patient as they insist they’re handling their own issues just fine, when they’re not. Their training seems to eliminate objectivity about themselves. It’s during those times that they can inflict the most damage on their patients.

Case in point, was the director of the clinic. She was a textbook sociopath — charming, but completely narcissistic, manipulative, and vindictive. It was pure pleasure sport for her to twist the staff into knots, pit people against each other, and instigate subtle power games. When she eventually tired of playing with someone’s emotions, she would fabricate a reason to fire them. The board of directors eventually became aware of the reason for the tremendously high turnover rate, but not before she managed to torment over 100 employees over a 5 year period. I’m happy to say that they ran her out of the state.

From my experience, I caution anyone in need of counseling to not rely on just the counselor’s credentials, but also listen to that “inner voice”. If it’s telling you that something feels wrong with the advice/treatment given, move on until you find a counselor that you “click” with, feel comfortable/confident with, and are making notable progress with in your treatment.

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Chocobo October 8, 2012 at 9:07 am

@Just call me J: Whoa, this lady sounds more like an overbearing mother than a therapist. A therapist’s job is to try and put themselves out of business, they should be happy when a client doesn’t need them anymore. When I was getting over a bad breakup, I didn’t see a therapist, but I was told the same thing by a couple of friends: that my lack of attention to painting my nails and lack of interest in women’s magazines versus my “abnormal” interest in video games and “guy stuff” made me undesirable.

Then I met my husband over a discussion about old-school video games, and he’s the best husband on the planet in my humble opinion.

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Roslyn October 8, 2012 at 9:09 am

Wow. I think that I have never search for a therapist for this exact reason. This is something I think would help me in my life, but this scenario is my fear, so I truck on alone with my meditation.

Reminds me of the Company Therapist from the movie “Miracle on 34th Street”. If you don’t agree with me SOMETHING must be wrong with you.

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Cat October 8, 2012 at 9:12 am

Your therapist was not a therapist, just a fool with a license from somewhere. You did not need contact with that sort of a person when you were already depressed.
I realize I was depressed throughout my childhood until I left home at 19. There was nothing wrong with me; I came from an abusive home and, having nothing with which to compare it, did not realize my family was abnormal.
Most girls did not have to be 21 to have a driver’s license, friends, the freedom to visit people and to have them over, to choose what they wanted to study and what interests they had/music they liked. It was quite a revelation to be able to talk to people my own age and to learn that I was not abnormal, but my parents were a bit off.
I tend to think that depression can be hormonal or anger turned inward. If it’s physical, a doctor can help. If it’s emotional, a good counselor can help.The feeling of being in a hole when there’s no way out prevents you from being the person you were meant to be.
I was depressed because you cannot grow sunflowers in a violet pot. I was a sunflower and my parents were determined to make me a violet. They were downright surprised when their violet packed up and left home. (Mother always told me that only girls who hated their mothers left home and went to college. Good girls who loved their mothers stayed home and went to college. You should have seen her face when I left!)
There comes a time when you have to take yourself in hand and sink or swim on your own terms. You did very well by going for help when you needed it and by realizing that you chose the wrong person. Welcome to the world of sunflowers.

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Mabel October 8, 2012 at 9:17 am

My mother does work with abuse victims (she’s a psychologist) and she has run into so many people who are damaged by incompetent therapists. It’s really epidemic almost.

Good for you for reporting her, and for walking out. There are idiots in every profession and it sounds like this woman and her staff are some of them.

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XH October 8, 2012 at 9:19 am

Reminds me of the person I saw when struggling in college. I went to the clinic because I was in desperate need of help, and got none of what I asked for.

You see, I went to them to ask for help getting basic needs taken care of because I was on crutches after a surgery and would not be able to walk for another three months. The medical clinic was in the same building as the mental health clinic, and when I told the receptionist that I really needed help because I wasn’t able to get food for myself in the cafeteria without aid – she booked me an appointment with the psychiatrist. I thought that was kind of odd, but came in the next day to see this person.

The psychiatrist had me sit down on a big squishy chair and asked me all kinds of questions about my relationship with my family. I tried insisting that I really needed help with just daily tasks, as I wasn’t managing the crutches well. She continued to pry at my family and social life until I started crying. Then she told me that my problems were much too big and ongoing for the kind of treatment they could provide. So when the appointment finally ended I left with the information I was a deeply damaged person who couldn’t be helped, and without the information I was actually looking for.

So I ate almost nothing but poptarts and instant noodles that I could cook in my dorm room until I was able to walk again. The nearby WalMart did more to help me get around than my school. After the next surgery I found out that there was actually a person on campus whose only job was making sure that even temporarily handicapped students were able to meet their basic needs. That person also failed me by refusing to let me move into a first floor dorm room, but at least that didn’t come with a professional condemnation of my mental state and a complete refusal to help make it possible for me to eat real food.

There are some really terrible people in the mental health field. I wish it weren’t so. So sorry that this happened to you, OP. I’m glad you’re in a better place now.

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Mrs. Lovett October 8, 2012 at 9:21 am

@OP: Good for you for getting out of an unhealthy situation and looking for a way to get yourself healthy again! I’ve struggled with severe depression, and I know how hard it can be to take the first step to get help. It can be even harder to judge whether the “help” you’re getting is really what you need. It sounds to me like you did all the right things, and hopefully Dr. Brown has had her license to practice revoked or at least suspended until she learns how to be a real counselor.

@Bint: I went through a similar experience with my orthodontist when I was 11 or 12. He took my mother and myself into an office and started recommending plastic surgery to correct my profile so that the kids at school wouldn’t make fun of my for looking weird. Now, I have kind of an unusual profile, I’d always been a little self-conscious about it, and it certainly doesn’t fit the normal standard of beauty, but there was never anything wrong with the way I looked. But it took me years to let go of the fact that an “aesthetic professional” told me I needed plastic surgery to not look weird. He definitely really screwed with my self-esteem, and I’m not certain he only did it because he got a kick-back for referring patients to this plastic surgeon. It’s horrendous what some so-called professionals can do, but good for you for leaving him negative reviews that will hopefully steer others away from him.

@Just Call Me J: Good for you! You know what you love, and video games and sci-fi are actually pretty common interests. I just started seeing a great guy who first messaged me on a dating site because one of my pictures was of me in a Chell costume (from the Portal games) getting ready to go to a local comic-con.

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James October 8, 2012 at 9:31 am

Awful, awful story. The OP did very well to get out of there and not allow themselves to be treated like that anymore. It’s frightening to think of all the vulnerable patients that accepted what they were told and continued to be (financially & mentally) abused by this clinic.

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James October 8, 2012 at 9:37 am

> If the door was locked, and the secretary had to unlock it,
>how could she put the blame on OP for being late?

Maybe I’m being very uncharitable here, but my first thought was that this is a psychological ploy; immediately she got into the clinic, the OP was told she was “in the wrong” and only by the good grace of the secretary was she rescued from a fine. A disreputable therapist may have many such tricks to enforce their patient’s negative self-worth and build positive feelings towards the clinic.

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Goldie October 8, 2012 at 9:44 am

How do licensed therapists manage to have this completely unprofessional stuff fall out of their mouths, and not die of embarrassment on the spot? In addition to just about everything the OP’s therapist said, I am also referring to Just Call Me J’s “She then accused me of just using her to get over the breakup”…. well, DUH! Wasn’t it the whole point of Just Call Me J’s coming to see this doctor in the first place?

I once saw a therapist to get over a bad breakup (it was actually not a breakup as much as me having gotten played for the first time in my life, by a man who’d originally appeared completely decent and together). I was advised by my friends to look for someone practicing in CBT, so typed that into a search engine and picked the first name out of the list. First session consisted of me telling her all about my childhood, teenage years, early 20s, all details of my life up until 20 years before the breakup I was trying to get over. Second session was her asking me about the breakup, listening for about ten seconds, and then telling me that I a)tended to choose men that treated me badly, because they reminded me of my mom; and b)tended to get upset when people left me, because my mom used to have a full-time job and go on business trips, so being dumped by a guy reminded me of my mom leaving for work. Oh, and she came in wearing a skirt and sat cross-legged on her chair, so I was face-to-face with the woman’s underwear for the duration of the session.That’s $50 and two hours of my life I can never get back. Never scheduled session 3. Met my current bf two months later. He treats me like a queen, and does not remind me of my mom (then again, neither has any man I’ve dated… I’m not that kinky, not by a long shot!) It was a weird experience, but at least she was very nice and well-meaning. Dr Brown on the other hand, sounds just mean, unprofessional, and, to be honest, a tad deranged. (coming in late and charging the patient a late fee? coming to work in her PJ’s?? verbally assaulting the patient???)

There are web sites out there now where you can review your experience with a doctor. I would encourage the OP to go there and leave negative feedback, so no one makes a mistake of seeing Dr. Brown in the future. I honestly believe that, if she’s THAT bad, her patients need to be warned.

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Goldie October 8, 2012 at 9:47 am

Wanted to add that I’m in total agreement with Lo – it’s stories like this that make me want to give a hug to every therapist that has helped my children and myself over the course of our lives. There are a lot of really amazing ones out there! The ones like Dr. Brown, make you appreciate the good ones even more.

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Lerah99 October 8, 2012 at 9:54 am

That is absolutely horrific. Bad therapists like this do so much damage. Insisting you were abused is one step away from those quacks who convinced people they had been molested with “recovered memory” therapy. I’m so glad you were able to stand strong and find help from a different professional.

Years ago I was battling with depression and was overwhelmed by personal responsibilities in my life. I gave up a college scholarship to stay home and help support my mom after my parents divorced. Then my mom spent the next 7 years too depressed to work. So I was working 2 jobs to try and pay all the bills. At the same time my grandmother was suffering from dementia so on the weekends I cared for her to give my dad and step-mom a break.

I really needed someone to talk with because I was feeling so frazzeled. I resented my mom for what I gave up and the fact she wouldn’t pull herself up by her boot-straps. I really wanted to go to college but felt trapped by family responsibilities. I was so exhausted that I felt like I was losing my mind.

Finally, I went to see a family counselor recommended by a friend. This counselor insisted that my depression was due to being bisexual, and that I needed to find Jesus in order to be cured of my wicked lust for other ladies. She insisted that once I had Jesus I would happily care for my family, find a nice man to marry, etc… That was also when I found out the state of Florida doesn’t require any sort of degree or certification for someone to advertise themselves as a “counselor”.

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egl October 8, 2012 at 9:55 am

@Just Call Me J

I shudder to think what her idea of a “proper relationship” was.

But then, I’m biased. My parents ended up with lots of duplicates when they merged their science fiction collections.

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Mary October 8, 2012 at 10:02 am

I once had a general practice doc tell me that the reason I was overweight was because I must have had a bad childhood. I must’ve been abused or neglected. I tried to tell the doc that I actually had a pretty ideal childhood, 2 parents, Mom stayed home, Very “Leave it to Beaver etc. but he insisted I must be surpressing some deep dark secret about some abuse I must have suffered. Uhm. Sorry, no. I told him that I was pretty sure the reason I was fat was that I grew up with some amazing home cooking, white bread, desserts, gravy at most every meal :) but he just shook his head and said he couldn’t help me if I wouldn’t try to help myself. Fair enough. I walked out and never went back there.
I am sorry that you were on the receiving end of incompetence, and happy to hear you are in a better place mentally. :)

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Angela October 8, 2012 at 10:07 am

There was a period in the 1990s when a “fad” in counseling was to blame women’s problems or issues on repressed memories of sexual abuse. God only knows how much damage that did. If anyone is interested in an example, Google “Beth Rutherford false memory”. Not only did it cause great harm to people like the OP, but that fad made stories of childhood abuse less plausible, even when they were true.

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spartiechic October 8, 2012 at 10:12 am

All those trained and licensed to do therapy (psychologists, social workers, counselors, etc) have a code of ethics. If anyone gets treated like this by a so-called “professional,” I’d advise you to contact the licensing entity within the state and/or the professional association for the therapist and report them. This is unacceptable and unethical. If someone is found to have practiced in this way, they may lose their license and have the complaint put on their record.

As a licensed social worker, I take my code of ethics very seriously. Just as doctors vow to primum non nocere (first, do no harm), most professional ethical codes begin with service to the client without harm. For example, ethical code 1.01 of the social worker code of ethics begins:

“Social workers’ primary responsibility is to promote the well­being of clients. In general, clients’ interests are primary. However, social workers’ responsibility to the larger society or specific legal obligations may on limited occasions supersede the loyalty owed clients, and clients should be so advised.”

Other therapeutic professions have similar ethics and must be held accountable to these ethics. Please don’t hesitate to report someone who is acting unethical.

*steps off of her soap box*

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Miss Alex October 8, 2012 at 10:13 am

I hope you (or your doctor) reported this “counselor”, OP.

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Rap October 8, 2012 at 10:15 am

” am a little confused. If the door was locked, and the secretary had to unlock it, how could she put the blame on OP for being late? Was the secretary already inside or did she come up to the door while the OP was standing there and unlock it? I think it would be unfair to actually charge a late fee unless it actually cost the doctor time. It is rather hypocritical to charge patients a late fee when the doctors are running behind schedule.”

Unfortuneately, I think a lot of medical practices run on the “you need us more than we need you” mindset. I had at least one doctor I stopped going to because they had a similar policy – being “on-time” was considered 20 minutes before your appointment to start ostensibly so you could fill out your paper work. I’d dutifully show up early, the paper work would be done… and then I’d wait until 20 minutes after my appointment time just to be taken to the exam room… where I had to wait another 20 minutes… On the last time, it took so long for the doctor to see me, the desk staff had left for the day and couldn’t set up my next appointment and thats when I decided I was finding a different doctor.

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Ashley October 8, 2012 at 10:38 am

I would have left the second I saw that I wasn’t going to be the first appointment as I had originally booked, especially after all that hassle with the secretary over the front door. She saw you standing there when she unlocked it, how could she possibly accuse you of being late?

As for the rest of it, that’s just unprofessional. Refusing to believe you are telling the truth about being abused? What?

I’m glad you managed to find someone who worked out for you after that whole mess.

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Another Alice October 8, 2012 at 10:39 am

Oh, how awful! As someone who’s had her share of depression/anxiety issues, I totally feel for the OP. But I agree with others who have said that s/he DID do the right thing, by simply not coming back and also informing the secretary that the door was locked. Sometimes when one stands up for themselves, it’s just little things you can do.

I wonder if there is some website out there offering a simple guideline for what to expect from a doctor upon your first visit. I say this because, while I think it’s normal to take a history, the patient should be aware of when something goes over the line, or is almost a “money grab,” in the sense that when you feel well enough to move on, the doctor insists you continue. It’s one thing for a dentist to make a small faux pas and ask, “Oh, you’re here about that crooked tooth?” and you’re actually there for a cavity. A normal person would be embarrassed, apologize, and move on. But one that then sticks on something you didn’t come in for is nuts.

When I went to counseling for a really hurtful situation with a group of friends, the therapist *did* do a brief, “How’s your family? How’s your work life?” at the start, but when I said, “Oh, all fine, it’s just this xyz situation . . .,” she said, “Okie dokie. So let’s work on that.” End of story. I do believe that sometimes there are deeper things to work through – I emphasize “sometimes” – but a good therapist knows that if there are, they will all come out in time once the surface issues are addressed, and when proper trust has been established. OP did the right thing by not going back.

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Gee October 8, 2012 at 10:49 am

This is just horrible! The last thing a person needs when struggling with depression is to be treated like a liar. I sincerely hope this “doctor” isn’t still practicing. I’m so sorry you had to go through that, OP.

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Viola October 8, 2012 at 10:50 am

Having PTSD is easier? News to me. Speaking of which, may we please have a trigger warning or something next time there is a story about assault? I would be eternally indebted. I just read this site to unwind is all. You don’t tend to notice it unless you are a survivor, but the jokes and references to it are just everywhere, it is kind of exhausting.

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Enna October 8, 2012 at 11:22 am

This is shocking. I hope you made a formal complaint to a regulating body/authority over this matter. This is dangerous because the more “false” accusations of abuse there are the harder it is for real vicitms to be believed and supported.

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Silverlily October 8, 2012 at 11:39 am

Unfortunately, my story trumps even the OP’s.

Brief background: My father was physically abusive to my mother and to me (though he never once touched my brother), and both parents were severely verbally abusive. My mother’s brother sexually abused me many times starting just before I turned four. I told my grandmother, but she hushed me and told me to never talk about it – just as she had done with my mother when my mother’s uncle had raped her. To this day I cannot stand Christmas Eve or Christmas, because some instances occurred on these holidays. (I was made to sleep in his bed.)

I have severe PTSD, but was misdiagnosed as bipolar disorder. (The symptoms of PTSD can mimic those of bipolar disorder.) A little over two years ago, I decided once and for all to conquer my “bipolar disorder.” I saw a psychiatrist who put me on high doses of benzos (4 mg / day of Ativan) and also tried various psychoactive drugs on me *while* I was taking the benzos. I started having panic attacks, which I had never before had in my life and which plagued me for the next year. I had to drop out of school (I was 3 semesters away from finishing a double major in IT & German) and figure out what was wrong with me. I’ve been tapering off benzos for almost two years now. I still suffer from terrible, debilitating anxiety that precludes returning to school or securing employment. I experienced anxiety and depression before, but never like this – at least I could function before this happened.

I had only been married a few months when all of this started.

My life has been ruined.

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Julia October 8, 2012 at 11:45 am

I’m glad the original poster is in a better place, because it’s not easy to get there. I also had a string of terrible therapists (none of whom I went to see by my own choice), including one who tried to dig for past abuse (I told him 347398 times that there was no physical abuse so stop trying to write a book about me). I will never see a therapist at any level again (I’m fortunate enough that my anti-depressant works), but ultimately it’s a decision best left to the individual.

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L October 8, 2012 at 11:52 am

Sounds like the sister of a therapist I had, who I only went to because my (very wonderful) Psychologist could not prescribe the medication I needed (we tried natural stuff, meditation, etc, but I really needed a low dose of meds too. Felt like a failure for having to depend on them, but he told me how it wasn’t my fault, just the way my brain is hardwired) This ‘therapist’ seemed OBSESSED with talking about the most horrible points of my life. I’d come to the office feeling positive, leave feeling horrible. She kept insisting I was depressed because I wanted to kill myself. Umm, no, but she kept insisting until finally I told her that yes, I did want to kill myself only because her appointments made me feel so bad! I then managed to get my medication through my doctor!

Angela, I read about cases like that! Especially about men accused of abuse by wives/girlfriends who had been brainwashed by some counselor that they were unhappy because they were being abused and just didn’t know it!

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FeatherBlade October 8, 2012 at 11:59 am

When I needed counseling, I found that the psychology clinics at the local universitites in my area were an excellent resource. For one, they were open to the community (you didn’t have to be a student or faculty member to use the services) and they charged for services on a sliding scale, based on the client’s income. I had no income at the time, so I was able to get counseling for a small cost.

For another (and this, I think, is more important), the psychologists at these clinics were grad students doing their clinical practica, and so not only did they have no financial incentive to keep a patient in therapy, they also had supervisors who would oversee and correct their counseling techniques.

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Just call me J October 8, 2012 at 12:14 pm

@Chocobo: “Overbearing mother” was the impression I got too, though she was almost old enough to be my grandmother.

@Goldie: That’s the entire reason I went, and I was honest about it from day one that my ultimate goal was go stop going. She had to be licensed to take my insurance, though I don’t remember if she was an actual doctor or not. I do remember thinking she’d be a great therapist/adviser for someone who wanted to live the kind of life she was championing – I just wasn’t that someone.

@egl: Her idea of a “proper” relationship was probably something with hideously stereotypical, rigid, 1950s-era gender-roles. She also wasn’t computer-savvy at all: She assumed that everyone on the internet was an axe-murderer (or worse!) and didn’t know why I’d ever want to out and meet those people.

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June First October 8, 2012 at 12:28 pm

It is so hard to find the right therapist, especially when your insurance doesn’t cover it!

OP, I completely empathize with you.
I was going through a rough time while living about 12 hours away from my family in an unfamiliar city. My then-boyfriend and I only had one car. I tried to schedule an appointment with a new counselor, but each time he was available for an appointment I didn’t have access to the car.
He finally said, “Well, it’s obvious you don’t want to feel better!”
I called the clinic later to complain, and they couldn’t BELIEVE he’d say that, as he’s the most senior therapist on staff. Yikes. I reported him further, and later learned he had that sort of reputation.

Another therapist made negative remarks about anything in my personal life. It ran the gamut from, “Oh, that project will never work. Why are you even bothering?” to “How does it feel to be promiscuous?”. Um…I wouldn’t know. Luckily, I later found a good one who helped me through a rough patch.

Sometimes the hardest part is realizing it’s nothing wrong with you, and that not all therapists can be helpful. Sigh.

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E October 8, 2012 at 12:28 pm

Luckily my “bad therapist” story isn’t as bad as some of the ones people have told, however it was quite annoying. Essentially, I would come in every week and, out of habit, I would say “hi, how are you?” And she would answer – for 15 minutes. Literally, she would talk about herself for the first 15 minutes of every session. I don’t know why I didn’t just say after the first or second time it happened, “you seem to do a lot of talking at the beginning of every session – is that typical?” Also, our relationship was problematic because she really identified me as a “younger” version of herself and made assumptions about choices I would or wouldn’t make because of it. I just stopped going.

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Kirst October 8, 2012 at 12:50 pm

I’ve done very little training in counselling techniques and I am categorically not a counsellor, but I know enough to know that anyone working as a counsellor should be getting regular supervision from a more experienced counsellor in the same discipline. It’s obvious that isn’t happening, or these “therapists” wouldn’t be behaving the way they are.

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barbarian October 8, 2012 at 12:54 pm

You should report the therapist’s behavior to the patient representative of your insurance company. They wil be obligated to discuss your concerns with the therapist. You may also be able to rate Dr. Brown on RateMD.com.

I have typically had good experiences with therapists until this year. I saw this elderly woman who did not try to comprehend what I was explaining to her, interrogated me several times about the exact name of the employer and employment status of my husband, and she even asked why I married him in the first place(just celebrated a happy 15th wedding anniversary-go figure!). I got an uneasy feeling about her, checked her online ratings, and found only negative reviews from people who had the same general impression as I did.

I discontinued seeing her, reported her to the insurance company, and found a better therapist.

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Kaiti October 8, 2012 at 1:28 pm

I hope you reported that charlatan to the appropriate regulatory authority!

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DGS October 8, 2012 at 2:01 pm

OP, I am so sorry you were treated so badly by a bunch of loons. Just because someone has a doctorate does not make them qualified. In my discipline, psychology, one also needs to have graduated from an APA-approved doctoral program, have completed an APA-approved internship and preferably, also an APA-approved postdoc and be licensed in their state. A licensed psychologist or a licensed Master’s level professional (social worker, counselor) or a board-certified psychiatrist (medical doctor) also needs to have a license in good standing from their state, and a quick phone call to the State Board can usually verify that. These licenses exist to make sure that practitioners abide by their ethics codes.

Unfortunately, a lot of members of the general public do not have enough information to distinguish someone with a degree in religious-counseling (nothing against religion but a much lower quality control in those programs, as most are not APA-approved) or someone from a diploma mill program or an online school, from someone who has the highest quality training. These crooks will call themselves “psychologists” when in reality, they have no right to the title (a psychologist is a licensed Ph.D. or Psy.D.), and the general public has terrible experience with those folks, and those of us who actually are psychologists get a bad name.

Most importantly, all formal qualifications aside, trust your inner voice. Sometimes, it’s not even what a person does or does not do, but simply “clicking” with a therapist that matters most.

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Lisa M. October 8, 2012 at 2:15 pm

I haven’t been to a therapist, but I did have a humiliating encounter with a physician once. I went to get a TB test (necessary to work with zoo animals) and the doctor (a male, in is 50s) took a brief history. Upon learning that I was single and in my 30’s, he called me an Old Maid. Seriously. Probing further, he asked whether I drank or smoked, the answer to both of which was “no.” I made the mistake of attempting a joke by saying that’s probably why I wasn’t popular with men. The doctor then one-upped me by saying that there were other things I could do, but “you probably don’t do those things, either.” Wow. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. On my way out, I was treated to some unprofessional shouting among the staff about another client. I paid my bill and left without scheduling the recommended physical exam and blood tests. No way did I want that creep seeing me in any state of undress.
I did not report him to the Board, but I did tell people about him.

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Green123 October 8, 2012 at 2:24 pm

I sincerely hope the OP has reported this ‘doctor’ for her dreadful treatment. I don’t know what the rules are in the OP’s home country, but here in the UK there are ways in which incompetent doctors can be ‘struck off’, i.e. removed from being able to practice. Sadly there are plenty of quacks who manage to bypass the authoritites by claiming to be ‘alternative’ therapists who are nothing of the sort.

A few years ago my employer sent me to see an occupational health counsellor when I was off work with depression. My appointment was for one hour. It was 9am on a day in late July. For the first 55 minutes she asked me about my childhood, my education, my work, etc., and made copious notes. She nodded sagely when I explained that until the previous year, I used to be a university lecturer but was now working in as ad education adviser in an IT firm. She listened carefully as I explained about the pressure I was placed under at work, the very long hours I was expected to work and about how my boss and co-workers were bullies – things I already suspected might have triggered (in whole or in part) my mental health issues.

She then spent the final 5 minutes of my appointment explaining how there was nothing actually wrong with me except that as I used to work in education I was ‘probably used to having a long summer vacation’ and was ‘pretending to be depressed so I could have the summer off’, and that I’d ‘miraculously feel better in September’. I walked out of that occupational health office at 10am, was home by 10.30am and had written and posted my resignation letter by 10.45am. It took me a fair while to get better, and my GP was fabulous, helping me with (proper) counselling and medication, but I dread to think what would have happened if I’d listened to that counsellor, ignored my symptoms and gone back to work right away.

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Jenny October 8, 2012 at 2:39 pm

I have a bad therapist story too. A friend of mine has mild bipolar disorder. Nothing major. My friend was given medication for it, but it was way too strong. it gave her hand tremors and made her very sick. So she stopped taking them and went back to the doctor to ask for a lower dose. The psychologist who then decided she must be suicidal, and had her sent to the hospital on suicide watch, and (because this was the school psychologist) had her removed from classes that semester. I believe my friend because I was present right when she went to the doctor and went to the hospital. The funny thing is, making her leave school for a semester made her way more depressed than anything.

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Cami October 8, 2012 at 2:59 pm

A friend of mine had a son who was a terror. He was quite violent. She had taken him to many doctors and therapists trying to get help. She was told over and over that she was exaggerating because the boy never exhibited violence during his appointments and that if he was a “bad boy”, that was because she was a bad mother. His behavior was escalating to dangerous levels and she was at the psychiatrist’s office — the same psychiatrist who kept insisting she (and the school and the police) were exaggerating his violence — when the kid lost control and trashed the office, hit the doctor, etc. The doctor basically shoved the kid out of his office and told my friend that she was fired as a patient because of her “inability to control her own child.”

Long story short, she went through over 8 years of nightmares with this child and countless therapists before she finally found the right help — through a county-run institution for the mentally ill. His diagnosis was that he had Asperger’s and the psychotropic medications that had put him on had MADE him violent. Once he was off those meds and had gotten therapy from good counselors, he’s been fine.

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Dani October 8, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Stories like this make me question my recent decision to try to get help. Is it just going to make it worse?

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