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Hello everyone!

Glad I found this forum. There's not a lot out there to help with this. I get intrusive thoughts over harmful things that professionals have done. 
 

I am wondering if anyone has also had the unique experience of being friends with therapists in their personal lives. I have seen bad therapists for professional help, but I also befriended my coworkers (who were therapists). Some of those friendships did turn out to be toxic. 
 

Looking forward to posting. 

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Welcome, Hello Universe. I've found this forum a wonderful place to bounce thoughts and observations off one another to help synthesize that happened. Heavens, I got little to no help from psych 'professionals" who seem terrified of the possibility they might cause harm.
I personally was not friends with therapists. However,  I read many accounts when I was active a Psych Central forum, and some members reported much harm and confusion. The closest I came was a music teacher who stoked a personal  (non-sexual) and professional relationship. She definitely had the upper hand and when she was going through a difficult time, the power dynamic came around to bite me.
Look forward to your posts.

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Glad to have you with us, HelloUniverse000! Unresolved issues from bad therapy won't ever go away easily or completely, but it can be managed so that it feels less hurtful with time. If I had friends who worked in the psych profession, I'm not sure that I would trust them in the same way as my non-therapist friends. 

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Thank you both! Heh--my friends who are NOT in the helping profession were the ones who helped me the most. Friends who are therapists are like anyone else: Flawed humans who misread you. 
 

What I am struggling with now is when some people justify a therapists' abuse (liking thinking that they had a valid reason to do what they're doing). If something causes harm, I don't see why that is excused. 

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15 hours ago, HelloUniverse000 said:

What I am struggling with now is when some people justify a therapists' abuse (liking thinking that they had a valid reason to do what they're doing). If something causes harm, I don't see why that is excused. 

Yes, this is a real problem. Good intentions do not guarantee that there is no harm. Therapists need much more training in how actin on their good intentions can lead to harming the client.

This is just speculative, but I think that part of the problem may be that many therapists think, "This is how I would like someone to treat me, so I will treat my clients this way."  But this type of thinking fails to take individual differences into account. We can't rationally assume that another person is just like us -- we are all different. I have found, in reading, that some therapists do take this into consideration -- they might phrase it as following "The Platinum Rule" ("Do unto others as they would have you do unto them") rather than "The Golden Rule" ("Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.") 

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Mary S said:

Yes, this is a real problem. Good intentions do not guarantee that there is no harm. Therapists need much more training in how actin on their good intentions can lead to harming the client.

This is just speculative, but I think that part of the problem may be that many therapists think, "This is how I would like someone to treat me, so I will treat my clients this way."  But this type of thinking fails to take individual differences into account. We can't rationally assume that another person is just like us -- we are all different. I have found, in reading, that some therapists do take this into consideration -- they might phrase it as following "The Platinum Rule" ("Do unto others as they would have you do unto them") rather than "The Golden Rule" ("Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.") 

Totally agree! Projection can be dangerous, bc what works for the therapist may not work for the client.  Services need to be tailored to the individual. Helping someone isn't a one-size-fits all formula. 
 

It is one of my pet peeves as well when someone assumes that I think and feel just like them. I get why some people might think that way about the world, but it's not true. Each client is different. I see a lot of therapists say that they get that each client  is unique, but I don't see them actually following what they say. 

Edited by HelloUniverse000
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I've seen therapists believe that the rituals and incantations they use have some magic power to transform. They believe, armed with their mysterious, mystical toolkit, they can take on the world as saviors and sorcerers. They seem utterly bewildered when told their wondrous powers don't really work.

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I think regardless of how they were trained, the mistakes that therapists make are hard to correct because it's behind closed doors with no third party supervision or other witnesses. Also, therapists often don't want to seriously believe a client's criticisms because clients are the ones with the issues coming to them for the help. Therapists play the "expert" role that they think is expected of them, so they usually won't admit that they and/or their treatment could be in the wrong.        

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Greetings! Welcome to the forum!

On 5/25/2021 at 2:13 AM, HelloUniverse000 said:

I am wondering if anyone has also had the unique experience of being friends with therapists in their personal lives. I have seen bad therapists for professional help, but I also befriended my coworkers (who were therapists). Some of those friendships did turn out to be toxic. 

Sadly, yes, I have very much had this experience, and the impact it has had on me is massive. I had two psychologists as friends, one an academic psychologist teaching clinical skills and with some clinical experience himself in an agency contracted by local government. The other was a clinical psychologist that careered her way to the top of the NHS pay-grade and oversaw MH services for adults in my city and for children and adolescents for a big chunk of the country. In the end it wasn't friendship at all, in fact, I realised it barely ever was, and my naive trust in them regarding my MH issues and general openness regarding feelings (I like being open about emotional matters and, for me, it is a pillar of a meaningful relationship) was only ever really seen through their clinical lenses. They used my friendship as leverage to try to bend me to their will and mould me into the kind of person that they - and the supposed 'empirical' science - defines as a healthy individual. This included attacking my introversion and trying to convert me into an extrovert, amongst many very intrusive and duplicitous measures, all without consent, all under the radar until I educated myself about their methods. They even screwed with the relationship I had with my first love, trying to reinforce her critical feelings towards me, presumably to weaponise her into a source of punishers (they were and are VERY Skinnerian). Third parties were used against me and my ex at other times. I get the distinct feeling that they felt they had an ethical justification to dip into their 'toolbox' of psychology influence tactics whenever they wanted, but often the notional (and erroneous) idea of furtive tinkering being permissible ethically was just a ruse, I would say, for a pretty pathological need to CONTROL.

I got away. Way too late, but I got away. I am still, on a daily basis, working my way through the trauma of what was akin to something cult-like (given that cults use many of the same tactics!).

I continue to learn more, incrementally, about the methods of clinical psychology. I'm also learning more about the system, as it is, and the frankly dubious claims made regarding the 'evidence-based' nature of what they do, not to mention how policy-makers have been swayed by extremely poor science. If psychologists are good at anything, it's spin, PR and influence, What they have no regard for, is the side effects of systematically subjugating another human being to their will, no matter what 'good intentions' they might claim.

I'm so sorry those friendships turned out to be toxic. I can 100% empathise! There is a cumulative element, I find, with relationships like that. It's not a few dramatic episodes, generally, but a drip-drip-drip of poison over time, death by a thousand cuts, like being the lobster in the boiling water that isn't aware of the heat until it's scalding. By then, the damage can really eat away at you. I know my own recovery from 'friends' like these will take some time. I hope you know you aren't alone, there are others out there. My own 'platinum rule' is basically the old adage of avoiding twots! When I sniff out a manipulator, I'm gone! Don't engage with manipulators, that's my rule. Avoidance is generally pathologised (by the professionals), but it certainly has its place when it comes to protecting yourself.

 

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8 hours ago, zygomaticus said:

Greetings! Welcome to the forum!

Sadly, yes, I have very much had this experience, and the impact it has had on me is massive. I had two psychologists as friends, one an academic psychologist teaching clinical skills and with some clinical experience himself in an agency contracted by local government. The other was a clinical psychologist that careered her way to the top of the NHS pay-grade and oversaw MH services for adults in my city and for children and adolescents for a big chunk of the country. In the end it wasn't friendship at all, in fact, I realised it barely ever was, and my naive trust in them regarding my MH issues and general openness regarding feelings (I like being open about emotional matters and, for me, it is a pillar of a meaningful relationship) was only ever really seen through their clinical lenses. They used my friendship as leverage to try to bend me to their will and mould me into the kind of person that they - and the supposed 'empirical' science - defines as a healthy individual. This included attacking my introversion and trying to convert me into an extrovert, amongst many very intrusive and duplicitous measures, all without consent, all under the radar until I educated myself about their methods. They even screwed with the relationship I had with my first love, trying to reinforce her critical feelings towards me, presumably to weaponise her into a source of punishers (they were and are VERY Skinnerian). Third parties were used against me and my ex at other times. I get the distinct feeling that they felt they had an ethical justification to dip into their 'toolbox' of psychology influence tactics whenever they wanted, but often the notional (and erroneous) idea of furtive tinkering being permissible ethically was just a ruse, I would say, for a pretty pathological need to CONTROL.

I got away. Way too late, but I got away. I am still, on a daily basis, working my way through the trauma of what was akin to something cult-like (given that cults use many of the same tactics!).

I continue to learn more, incrementally, about the methods of clinical psychology. I'm also learning more about the system, as it is, and the frankly dubious claims made regarding the 'evidence-based' nature of what they do, not to mention how policy-makers have been swayed by extremely poor science. If psychologists are good at anything, it's spin, PR and influence, What they have no regard for, is the side effects of systematically subjugating another human being to their will, no matter what 'good intentions' they might claim.

I'm so sorry those friendships turned out to be toxic. I can 100% empathise! There is a cumulative element, I find, with relationships like that. It's not a few dramatic episodes, generally, but a drip-drip-drip of poison over time, death by a thousand cuts, like being the lobster in the boiling water that isn't aware of the heat until it's scalding. By then, the damage can really eat away at you. I know my own recovery from 'friends' like these will take some time. I hope you know you aren't alone, there are others out there. My own 'platinum rule' is basically the old adage of avoiding twots! When I sniff out a manipulator, I'm gone! Don't engage with manipulators, that's my rule. Avoidance is generally pathologised (by the professionals), but it certainly has its place when it comes to protecting yourself.

 

Oh gosh, thank you! I appreciate you sharing. I am so sorry that you went through all of that too. Yes, I was there too when I naively thought that being open about MH issues to therapist friends would be no biggie. 
 

I had similar things happen to me, and can resonate with you. One therapist friend also was preoccupied with what's "healthy" and not "healthy". It was funny when she would lecture me on dating/relationships/how to be, when she would tell me about her dysfunctional romantic relationships.   She was also very nosy, where she would ask questions that most people understand are tactless . What was hypocritical to me is when she wanted me to open up about all of my problems to her (she told me that being private is unhealthy), but then would turn around saying "I don't want to hear people's sh*t. I already do that for work".  Uh...don't ask people nosy questions and push them to open up then? Haha. 

If we want to talk about what's healthy, it's healthy for me to avoid manipulators as well. Not be someone's guinea pig! 
 

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On 5/26/2021 at 10:25 PM, Eve B said:

I think regardless of how they were trained, the mistakes that therapists make are hard to correct because it's behind closed doors with no third party supervision or other witnesses. Also, therapists often don't want to seriously believe a client's criticisms because clients are the ones with the issues coming to them for the help. Therapists play the "expert" role that they think is expected of them, so they usually won't admit that they and/or their treatment could be in the wrong.        

This is so true. It's like they have set themselves up on a pedestal of knowing all the answers, but they don't know what life experiences the person opposite them has had. They think three years studying from a book gives them more knowledge than fifty years life experience. So when they get challenged they feel threatened instead of being open and considering different ideas. So they become defensive because in their lofty position of a few years training they know all the answers.  The client is there for personal growth, but the therapist isn't and if the challenge continues they either say we are crazy or they throw us out or both. Often the reason we started therapy was because we have experienced neglect, abandonment and rejection and now they have just repeated it. Great!

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On 5/25/2021 at 2:13 AM, HelloUniverse000 said:

Hello everyone!

Glad I found this forum. There's not a lot out there to help with this. I get intrusive thoughts over harmful things that professionals have done. 
 

I am wondering if anyone has also had the unique experience of being friends with therapists in their personal lives. I have seen bad therapists for professional help, but I also befriended my coworkers (who were therapists). Some of those friendships did turn out to be toxic. 
 

Looking forward to posting. 

Hi HelloUniverse000,  A really good friend became a therapist and I also worked for a therapist. I like to think that most therapists do it for the right reasons, but I haven't met one who didn't have issues. In fact I  think although they do it to help others they are also searching for their own answers. We seek wisdom from them but sadly most of them don't possess it. I believe that is why their training is rigid and narrow. If it wasn't their emotional immaturity/ arrested development will shine through. I certainly saw that with both the therapists I knew personally. I was lucky to have that insight and it helped me to view the therapists I saw professionally in a more realistic way. I have definitely received more wisdom and stability from friends who weren't therapists, those people who have suffered too and not read a book. Looking back because I have finished therapy now I think therapy has helped me because I was desperate to offload in a weekly way which I couldn't do with friends, but I would advise anyone going into therapy that they (the ones I saw anyway)are not reliable or passionate about what they do. It's a real tricky one. We need to be vulnerable, but not defenceless.

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3 hours ago, Happynow said:

I get intrusive thoughts over harmful things that professionals have done. 

Me, too. I sometimes describe it as "intrusive thoughts of people behaving intrusively". It all started when someone I worked with behaved weirdly intrusively one day (I don't care to go into details). I started having intrusive thoughts of the incident. I knew a couple of people who had found therapy helpful for some problem they had (not my problem), so I tried therapy in the hope that it could help with those intrusive thoughts. But the therapists' behaviors often seemed really intrusive, which fed the intrusive thoughts. (I later learned that the co-worker who started it all had been having marital therapy, so I think he  may have been treating me like his therapist treated him.)

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4 hours ago, Happynow said:

Hi HelloUniverse000,  A really good friend became a therapist and I also worked for a therapist. I like to think that most therapists do it for the right reasons, but I haven't met one who didn't have issues. In fact I  think although they do it to help others they are also searching for their own answers. We seek wisdom from them but sadly most of them don't possess it. I believe that is why their training is rigid and narrow. If it wasn't their emotional immaturity/ arrested development will shine through. I certainly saw that with both the therapists I knew personally. I was lucky to have that insight and it helped me to view the therapists I saw professionally in a more realistic way. I have definitely received more wisdom and stability from friends who weren't therapists, those people who have suffered too and not read a book. Looking back because I have finished therapy now I think therapy has helped me because I was desperate to offload in a weekly way which I couldn't do with friends, but I would advise anyone going into therapy that they (the ones I saw anyway)are not reliable or passionate about what they do. It's a real tricky one. We need to be vulnerable, but not defenceless.

 
 

I agree that every therapist that I have met had their own issues. If they're not taking care of their own stuff (like seeing their own therapist or self-reflecting), those issues can spill into their work with clients. We clients notice things about therapists too: like when they're contradicting themselves (saying one thing during the last session and then something totally different in the next session), not remembering important things, making judgmental faces, and having incongruent body language with what they say.  Being friends with therapists did help me look at them in a more realistic way too. 
 

My non-therapist friends helped me more bc they had these things : 1) Common sense 2) A practical approach to solving problems 3) Were grounded consistent and stable (at least to me).  I didn't find those things in some of the therapists in my life. Given my complex trauma, I was craving security and common sense in someone......
 

 

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2 hours ago, HelloUniverse000 said:

 
 

I agree that every therapist that I have met had their own issues. If they're not taking care of their own stuff (like seeing their own therapist or self-reflecting), those issues can spill into their work with clients. We clients notice things about therapists too: like when they're contradicting themselves (saying one thing during the last session and then something totally different in the next session), not remembering important things, making judgmental faces, and having incongruent body language with what they say.  Being friends with therapists did help me look at them in a more realistic way too. 
 

My non-therapist friends helped me more bc they had these things : 1) Common sense 2) A practical approach to solving problems 3) Were grounded consistent and stable (at least to me).  I didn't find those things in some of the therapists in my life. Given my complex trauma, I was craving security and common sense in someone......
 

 

Those three points are for me the definition of good mental health and a stable mind. We had all three before we became disturbed, generally by someone else's irrational behaviour in real life. We still had some common sense left though and sought help from someone who advertised they could help us with our situation. Unfortunately the therapists often don't possess any of those three points and disturb us further until we get to the point where we say 'Shes mad I'm ok' is that how it's supposed to work? A kind of reverse psychology?? 

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21 hours ago, Happynow said:

Those three points are for me the definition of good mental health and a stable mind. We had all three before we became disturbed, generally by someone else's irrational behaviour in real life. We still had some common sense left though and sought help from someone who advertised they could help us with our situation. Unfortunately the therapists often don't possess any of those three points and disturb us further until we get to the point where we say 'Shes mad I'm ok' is that how it's supposed to work? A kind of reverse psychology?? 

It's upsetting when I hear clients/consumers of therapy being labeled the "crazy ones", bc it's not always true.  My family member told me "you were so much happier before you got involved with therapists". She's right.  I also get intrusive thoughts about the harmful things professionals have said. 

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5 hours ago, HelloUniverse000 said:

I also get intrusive thoughts about the harmful things professionals have said. 

I went to therapy largely because I was having intrusive thoughts of a bizarre incident with a co-worker. I found out a couple of years later that he had been having therapy, and I guessed that his comments that started the intrusive thoughts were some kind of mimicking of what his therapist had said to him. But then when I tried therapy, the therapists said such bizarre things that I started having intrusive thoughts about those bizarre therapist comments.   In fact, I still often have intrusive thoughts of those therapist comments.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 5/25/2021 at 6:52 AM, HelloUniverse000 said:

Thank you both! Heh--my friends who are NOT in the helping profession were the ones who helped me the most. Friends who are therapists are like anyone else: Flawed humans who misread you. 
 

What I am struggling with now is when some people justify a therapists' abuse (liking thinking that they had a valid reason to do what they're doing). If something causes harm, I don't see why that is excused. 

This is the problem. If they do harm, which they often do they do not take any responsibility. Doing so would conflict with their 'perfect appearance' they like to project. Those who still like therapists after they have harmed a client are sucked into and believe this 'perfect appearance' bs. Therapists are quite often completely wrong.

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