"My story is about my experience when a private counsellor gave me emotional support at a time in my life when I couldn’t get this from my then mental health nurse. I have been diagnosed with a severe mental illness and when I was very unwell, it caused me to hear voices, become paranoid, and have extremely high and low moods. Thankfully medication and a hospital stay had treated the worst symptoms. Back home and still in the process of recovering, I was assigned a community mental health nurse prescriber. She would often make me feel much worse though. This put me in an impossible situation of not getting help for the problems caused by my illness, but I also felt I needed help dealing with the effect appointments with this nurse had on me. However, due to the severity of my diagnosis and the fact that this nurse was so well qualified and senior, I often wasn’t believed when I sought help elsewhere. I found a large local group of counsellors online and they decided a particular counsellor would be best for me. If my diagnosis worried her she didn’t show it, although she told me she discussed our sessions with her supervisor. She was different and didn’t rush to judgment about how I felt about the nurse prescriber. Instead, we just met each week to talk about all kinds of things that had happened or were currently happening in my life. I began to feel better and she encouraged me to take on projects I enjoyed. Meanwhile, the situation with the nurse prescriber reached a breaking point and I phoned her manager in tears. When he asked what I wanted, I replied that I wanted a different nurse prescriber. This was arranged for me and I was surprised to find it was a nurse who had treated me before and whom I liked. I saw my new nurse, while at the same time attending appointments with my counsellor. However, although both had my best interests at heart their advice would sometimes differ. It was then that my counsellor told me she thought I would be able to manage without our sessions. This proved to be the case afterward, as I felt much better, and had my new nurse's support with any difficulties that came up. I will always be so thankful to my counsellor though, for helping me through such a difficult time."
"I was targeted by a supervisor who knew my therapist. I am a therapist also and wanted a supervisor because I had done some courses my therapist had suggested.
The advance was made in an on-line session. I was so frightened that I froze. It was said in a way that made it seem as if I had made the proposition first. I had not. I did not ever want sex with this person or a relationship. I could not tell my therapist, because they knew each other and it "would all be OK." I was silenced and abused.
The sexual abuse happened in my house. It has affected everything in my life. My family, my friends and my children. I have PTSD because of the trauma.
I then realised my therapist made the introduction, so I thought back, I had been abused and harmed for 20 years by this therapist. When I challenged the therapy, I was called a liar and "didn't complain at the time" was thrown at me. I was sold courses and added onto a marketing email list without my consent. The email address was used frequently for personal exchanges, so it was confusing boundaries. The therapy was about the therapist not about me, always. I was raped 30 years ago and went for support to recover. I was told that "I was lucky because I was alive!" There was no irony in this statement; I was devastated."
"I am a survivor of the mental health system. I am 68 and started my journey in an old asylum after a hysterical breakdown at work. I was given Valium and turned into a zombie. I was discharged to community care which was wonderful, but I was still a passive patient. I lost two decades and my husband became a chronic alcoholic and died - I call it slow suicide as the right help was not available. I had a very good CPN (Community Psychiatric Nurse) and a very helpful Art Psychotherapist. I do not have this NHS support anymore, as despite my long history, I am deemed to be recovered and discharged to Primary Care who have no services to offer unless I am in crisis, which I will avoid...so....."
"When I attended my CMHT [Community Mental Health Team-NHS] for help with trauma I was asked, "Have you been successful all your life at preventing yourself from being raped"
"My first experience of therapy: in the initial session I expressed uncertainty about my reasons for being there, so the therapist suggested he hypnotise me to discover. I declined; he seemed a bit creepy. In subsequent sessions, he hypnotised me without consent & age-regressed me. I was confused & had periods of partial/complete amnesia. I kept asking what had happened & whether I had been hypnotised. He said not & suggested previous trauma was affecting my mind. I partly believed him - more so as my mental health deteriorated. He claimed it was imperative I stay in therapy to work through my issues. Unfortunately I did stay & saw him 2-5 times a week, mostly "for free", for years. Initially he was charming & seductive.
Under hypnosis, I discussed feeling profound guilt, because my childhood friend had been beaten/raped by her dad which I witnessed during sleep-overs. He would return late drunk, wake us & attack her. He never hurt me. I lay motionless, taking no action each time she was hurt, which led me to feel I had failed her & decide I was bad. A view compounded by subsequent abuse we both experienced from a friend of his. The therapist said it was okay, he would help me with these issues, but then he raped me, saying it was what I wanted/needed. This happened often; he scheduled appointments when we would be alone in the building. Over time he encouraged termination of contact with my loved ones. I became unwell & dependent. Later, I felt he hated me & wanted me to die.
I raised a concern with his professional body, after therapy abruptly & messily ended leaving me angry & curiously bereft. I was too ashamed, confused & fearful, to include details of the abuse. I also felt weirdly loyal & doubted myself, especially as the hypnosis had left me with fragmented memories which felt somewhat unreal. I tried to build a case on minor matters. The case officer appeared bored & contemptuous, “do you want me to process your complaint or not?”-when anxiety led me to dither. I imagined her on the other end of the phone filing her nails. And what a processing! The therapist denied all, lied, withheld documents & attacked me. After a protracted to-&-fro, the case was closed without action.
The governing body: provided no support; were not trauma-informed (in fact my trauma reactions were used against me); expected me to identify, gather & submit all evidence without help from them & appeared biased, even taking the therapist's word over my documented evidence. They didn't seem concerned for the safety of future clients, nor remotely curious.
I doubt I was the only one he harmed & wish I could prevent risk to others. The life I had before was worth living. Since, I feel sort of dead. Subsequent therapy is hard; I now lack trust. I can't imagine a good life ahead, but that's my hope & it's better than it was."
"I had 5 years of therapy with a UK therapist, which turned out to be one of the most harmful experiences of my entire life. Previous to this I had positive experiences of therapy. I have a diagnosis of complex PTSD and my therapist allowed me unlimited out of session contact. This created a really unhealthy dependency due to maternal absence and my early life experiences. I started to psychologically unravel and told her I was becoming mentally unwell and she did nothing about it. I nearly had a breakdown.There were no reviews of my therapy and no questioning of my deterioration.
I am still trying to recover from my therapy experience and would really recommend that clients, especially those with complex trauma, be very careful when embarking upon therapy. It also became very evident that the kind of harm which happened to me is barely recognised by some governing bodies. Therapy has the capacity to harm as well as heal and if you are harmed through incompetence it should be recognised in the same way as someone harmed by a medical doctor. The mind can be as fragile and susceptible to harm as the body. I'm really glad that more people are talking about therapy harm but there is too much blaming of clients in certain quarters. Thanks for letting me share my experience."