Live, Love, Blend:
Beware of Bad Therapists
Never be ashamed to ask for help. Life is hard. Blended family life can be harder. Sometimes you need to seek professional counsel to help your family navigate life in the blender.
But shopping for a good counselor, well it’s a bit like finding a new gynecologist. You’ve gotta put it all out there and hope this trusted professional is gentle yet knowledgeable, kind yet truthful, able to spot any trouble spots before they threaten your health and happiness.
I write this to say, trust your instincts. As with any job there are some people out there who should not be doing it. I met a counselor recently that falls into that category. It was an experience I share in hopes of empowering you to stand up for your beliefs, even when they person attacking them is being paid to help you.
Here’s our story:
My son had a very difficult year last year. Sleep deprivation, depression, anxiety, issues at school and with friends… he needed help and parental effort seemed only to push him away. I found him a counselor. They met a few times but weren’t meshing well and then the counselor announced his retirement. Okay, great. Now what? Perhaps a woman counselor would be better since this teen seems to feel like all the men in his life will let him down. I researched and found one who looked perfect, or at least her bio read well. Within 30 minutes of our meeting this therapist had me in tears. We had barely started discussing our reasons for being there when she basically turned on me, accusing me of being completely at fault for all the feelings my son was dealing with. She said that he shouldn’t have to pay the price just because my “picker was broken.” Yes, within less than an hour she informed me that both of the men I’ve married in my lifetime were mistakes. Wow.
She questioned why I would stay in this marriage. The accusing tone said, “you’ve been divorced once so why bother fighting for another bad decision?”.
I was completely shocked at having to explain to “a Psychologist with training focused in Clinical Psychology with Cognitive-Behavioral Psychotherapy specialization” that marriage is a commitment you don’t run out on the moment things get tough. I could tell by her reaction when I mentioned the fact that my husband and I take marriage classes at church that if I’d said I believe God can redeem our marriage she might have ordered a straight jacket.
Needless to say, we will NOT be scheduling a follow up appointment.
Despite the trauma I personally felt for several days after this visit, I will admit the experience did have one major positive outcome. My son was so disgusted with the way she threw me under the bus that I think it gave him empathy for my position in our complicated family dynamic. I was impressed that he immediately realized her method was a not-so-cleverly-disguised way of trying to connect with him. He didn’t buy it for a second. Smart boy!
Once I got over the initial shock of being professionally encouraged to divorce, I felt very strongly that she may have been suffering from a broken heart. Her actions and reactions were that of a woman scorned. I hope she finds peace before she does some real damage to people relying on her for help.
Don’t let this experience scare you away from finding counseling if you or your marriage or children need it. Just remember that counselors are imperfect people and sometimes their own hurts, habits and hang-ups can prevent them from using their training correctly. Keep looking. Ask a friend or a pastor for a recommendation. You and your family are worth the fight.
And one more note… for you and me both… no matter what various members of your family are struggling with, it’s not your fault. Your “picker” is not broken. God can redeem any and every situation.