How To Tell If Your Therapist Is Crazy (Part One)

Q: Why should we trust any of you [psychologists]? Aren’t you all crazy?

Q: Do you think there are alot of people in your profession who are pretty strange themselves? Why should anyone trust any of you?

Q: Are all therapists crazy? What about the suicide rate?

are therapists more crazy than the rest of usC’mon. We can’t all be crazy, can we?

Truth is, I’ve heard some disheartening stories of incompetence, conceit, and meanness among my colleagues. Add to that various tales of boundary violations, diagnostic ineptitude, and goofy, new age therapies. It’s enough to make a guy to wonder: is it true? Do psychologists struggle with mental illness more often then the general population? As is my tradition, I hit the literature in the hopes of scrounging up some facts.

Scrounging… Scrounging… Still Scrounging…

This has been frustrating research. Psychology is meant to help people overcome challenges and adversity. Overall, my profession is pretty good at that. But when it is time to shine the spotlight inward, we get awfully shy.

Searching for reliable data about impaired psychologists is like looking for malfeasance among politicians – you know it’s there but it’s tough to pin down. Existing data, though limited, seems to suggest that we’re no worse off than the population at large. Let’s start with the question of suicide.

It seems to be common wisdom that psychologists and psychiatrists kill themselves more often than anyone else. That idea may have been bolstered by a 1980 study (Rich & Pitts) asserting that psychiatrists off themselves at a rate “twice that expected” among physicians (and that’s a lot).

Recently, broader studies have indicated that occupation is a difficult thing to quantify in suicide statistics. The American Psychological Association (2001) reported that postmortem career inventories are frequently absent or inaccurate.

To complicate matters, various occupational groups have proclaimed their own profession the most suicide-prone, affecting federal death statistics in the process. We’re droppin’ like flies, Uncle Sam. Oh, and while we’re here, may we have a grant, please? Note that the aforementioned study of suicidal psychiatrists was conducted by other psychiatrists (probably the non-dead ones).

Of the identifiable trends, APA reported, there seem to be elevated suicide rates among white male physicians, African-American male security and police officers, and white female artists. Unemployment also increases risk.

Beyond those trends, the data regarding suicide by profession are varied and contradictory. Where shrinks are concerned, the evidence that we kill ourselves at a higher rate than anyone else is unreliable, at best. Which reminds me of a classic joke: How do you bury a dead psychologist?

Shrink-wrap. Ha! I kill me.

Not Much to Offer Beyond Surveys

So we psychologists aren’t leaping off cliffs like lemmings. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have our problems. We drink, we drug, we divorce, and we have our tragedies. And, yes, it affects our work.

A 1998 survey of 522 psychologists revealed that problems related to personal relationships and difficult clients were serious enough to impair their job performance. So were major injuries, money problems, and troubled kids (Sherman & Thelan, 1998).

The results also suggested that life difficulties have a cumulative effect on job performance. No surprise there. The psychologist who looks disinterested or whacky may be simply stressed out and avoiding help. In some cases, that amounts to an ethical violation.

In a more recent study, Katsavdakis et al. (2004) examined the records of 334 impaired psychiatrists, physicians, and mental health workers. These were folks who were receiving inpatient mental health treatment and/or had a formal complaint lodged against them. Of the three groups, mental health workers were the least likely to be married (that may not be as maladjusted as it sounds, considering some of the couples we encounter) and the most likely to be divorced (that, on the other hand, is troubling).

Among all three groups, the most common mental health diagnoses were mood disorder (depression, etc.; 47%), alcohol/substance abuse (15%), and personality disorder (narcissistic, antisocial, etc.; 15%). Among psychiatrists, there was an “overrepresentation” of diddling the patient. I’ll go out on a limb and suggest psychologists share that distinction.

In a 1995 survey concerning substance abuse among counseling psychologists (Good et al.), respondents reported “modest” use of alcohol and “low” use of other substances. In the same survey, 43% said they knew a male psychologist with a drinking problem, and 28% said they knew a female colleague with a drinking problem. These numbers, if accurate, are hardly “modest.” They also suggest that we are not immune to overlooking our own problems.

While we don’t flaunt our alcoholism, we seem more willing to admit when we’re depressed. In a 2002 survey of 1000 psychologists (Gilroy et al.; 425 responded), 62% admitted to relatively minor forms of depression. A handful reported more serious forms of depression, and one psychologist reported an attempt at suicide. One and a half times as many women were depressed as men.

The depressed respondents in the Gilroy study reported some positive aspects to their depression, including greater empathy for their clients. Unfortunately, they also reported withdrawal and isolation, irritability with colleagues, and reduced professional development activities. This is a recipe for substandard care. Which brings us to the pathology-turned-profit theories.

Wounded Healers

I’ve heard it said that shrinks aren’t simply screwed up, they’re shrinks because they’re screwed up. Where did I hear that? Why, from shrinks themselves.

In a review of the literature on why people choose psychotherapy as a career, Farber et al. (2005) highlighted some of the more prominent pathological theories:

  • Therapists were marginalized as children, and that experience created a “heightened awareness of inner events and a strong need to heal oneself and others.”
  • As children, therapists experience more pain than others. Becoming therapists gave them the opportunity to develop intimate relationships without the risk of pain or disappointment.
  • The field of psychology is attractive to those who feel “frightened and impotent” in their own lives. Being respected by patients allows the therapist to create a pleasing illusion of competence.
  • Having emotionally demanding mothers, future therapists “learn to read exquisitely well the signals of others as a means of staying connected emotionally.”
  • As children, therapists were rushed through childhood. They were denied of warmth and acceptance and had emotional responsibilities thrust upon them. As a result, they developed a stunted relationship repertoire in which their main role was to nurture others.
  • And my favorite: therapists choose their career out of a sadistic desire to crush their patients’ spirit. By focusing on the frailties of their patients, therapists elevate themselves.

… And then they eat their livers with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.

Let us stop before we stray too far into the twilight zone. Farber et al. concluded that, “a consistent theme in the clinical literature — albeit speculative, primarily nonempirical literature — is that many therapists felt isolated, alone, sad, or hurt in their childhood and entered the profession in order to fulfill some of their unmet needs for attention and intimacy.”

Sounds reasonable enough, and I believe many therapists would concur. Personal problems may help draw us to psychology, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Sometimes the Paranoid Are Right

One of my professors once asked the class if there were careers in which a bit of paranoia might come in handy.

“Police officer,” someone said. “Reporter.” “Soldier.”

“Yes, but think closer to home,” he said.

We were stumped.

“The answer is right under your nose,” he said.

We sat in sheepish silence.

“It starts with ‘psy’ and ends with ‘ologist,’” he coaxed.

We still didn’t get it.

I’m exaggerating. I think we eventually gave him what he was after. Too much paranoia gets in the way; the right amount (whatever that might be) drives a person to always look beneath the surface and ask one more question. This is a useful quality in a psychologist.

Maybe the problems that nudge people toward their professions are useful in moderation. Problems can be motivating. Personally, I prefer an accountant who is slightly obsessive over details. I want a surgeon who is just anxious enough to avoid silly risks and inattentiveness.

If I were shopping for a psychologist, I certainly wouldn’t want one whose life had been a perfect bed of roses. I’ve seen clinicians who have had it too easy, and others who have struggled too much. In my opinion, clinical skills diminish at both ends of the spectrum. I like to believe that I’ve suffered just the right amount — whatever that might be.

The Silent Affliction

It is tempting to think that all psychologists are a little crazy. So far, the data just don’t support that conclusion. If anything, there may be certain problems that are more characteristic of mental health workers than other professionals. Depression and rough childhoods seem to have the most empirical support. We’re not immune to substance abuse, and we can burn out or get stressed out.

For every one of us who makes headlines, there are an unseen number who are quietly and effectively working in the trenches. Even when we do get a little quirky, troubled, or sad, it is not necessarily a bad thing for our clients.

However.

There is different kind of mental condition that troubles me deeply. Mental health workers seem especially susceptible to it, and we don’t like to talk about.

I believe this problem causes more damage to our clients than all of the drunk, depressed, and whacked-out therapists combined. I believe that practicing under the influence of this disorder should be considered an ethical violation. And I believe the consumer needs to know the warning signs.

What is this affliction? Check back for Part Two. Watch as I, once again, gamble with my career like the pink slip to my old ’79 Dodge Omni. (Mine was green. Ick.)

Until then, be sure to hit the comments link on the way out (at the top of this page). I’d love to hear your stories of therapy, both good and bad. Don’t name names, please. This website gets me in enough trouble as it is.

-IS

References
American Psychological Association (2001). Suicide by profession: lots of confusion, inconclusive data. Monitor on Psychology, 32(1).

Farber, B.A., Manevich, I., Jetzger, J., & Saypol, E. (2005). Choosing psychotherapy as a career: Why did we cross that road? Journal of Clinical Psychology, 16(8), 1009-1031.

Good, G.E., Thoreson, P., & Shaughnessy, P. (1995). Substance use, confrontation of impaired colleagues, and psychological functioning among counseling psychologists: A national survey. Counseling Psychologist, 23(4), 703-721.

Katsavdakis, K.A., Gabbard, G.O., & Athey, G.I. (2004). Profiles of impaired health professionals. Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic, 68(1), 60-72.

Rich, C.L. & Pitts, F.N. (1980). Suicide by psychiatrists: A study of medical specialists among 18,730 consecutive physician deaths during a five-year period, 1967-72. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 41(8), 261-263.

Sherman, M.D. & Thelen, M.H. (1998). Distress and professional impairment among psychologists in clinical practice. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 29(1), 79-85.

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60 Responses to How To Tell If Your Therapist Is Crazy (Part One)

  1. jb says:

    they are money grubbing leeches projecting their own crap onto others. It’s not a science its a dependency creating sham. Get out before they ruin you for life.

    • Annon says:

      I totally agree with you, because of personal experience. Thanks for noticing that.

      • Anonymous says:

        finally ppl realizing what is really occuring, the crazies made a job to make everyone else look crazy so they can feel normal lol

    • George says:

      in his book Part 1, Dr. Vereshack is a legal defendant on trial. Consider the following: “I ask her to let her fingers do as they wish. Slowly, over several sessions, she undoes the buttons and, even more slowly over many more sessions, places her lips against my nipple and begins to suck. She suckles at my breast, lying beside me with my shirt removed, for three years, her hands kneading and squeezing my arms and back.” Vereshack adds that later “she asks me if I will lie on top of her in a sexual position.” Still later: “After three years of suckling, she developed a compulsion to fondle my penis . . . Once again I decided to let her go ahead and do what she needed to do. In feeling my penis, and in this case feeling it respond to her touch through my clothing . . .”

      Vereshack’s defense? This case demonstrates the principles of “regressive therapy,” the way to complete the unfinished traumas of childhood via the “search for congruence” and “body necessity.” The suckling was a “corrective learning experience.” The sexual positioning helped the patient realize that she had been trying to expel her mother from her body. And the fondling of Vereshack’s penis helped her to recall alleged sexual abuse by her father. This patient never cried, screamed or raged once in all her years of “therapy,” yet reportedly was healed. She was not among those pressing charges, but instead came to his legal defense

    • Anonymous says:

      Agree, Get out go see a social worker someone who cares and does not view people with labels like psychs do. people matter! and they do have self determination, boo hoo when they dont listen, psych use this against people definitely not cool

    • bob says:

      I have had a long relationship with my ex-shrink…she is the craziest person i have ever come across in normal life…all of her problems(which seem never ending) are all projected onto me…she is violent, drinks every day, hates everyone in my family and my friends(especially the good looking ones), she is jealous, never says sorry, always wants you to say sorry for her stuff, her disposition is anger and resentment, she is very pretty and flirts and plays jealous cards in part of her long term manipulation program, she has told lies about me and has even had her friends and even a client assault me over complete and utter lies….all HER people believe her as she is highly plausable when in her other personality and butter wouldnt melt, she seems to enjoy pulling strings with everyone and turning people on people…when i met her she questioned my past sexual relationships in detail to the point of ridiculousness and wrote a suicide letter at a time she describes as “the best time of my life”….i could write a thrilling novel on my experiences, but i doubt many would believe me as this woman has so many personalities, she has convinced people i am this bad person, which couldnt be further from the truth…i have now been in 2 consecutive abusive relationships and they are more difficult to get out of than you think, these types of people try to have something on you so you cant leave them, they are freakishly insecure and nothing gives them more pleasure than sinking to depressive, negative, miserable(the world is at an end) feelings to very quickly feelings wonderful and elated and on top of the world…they love to get the hit from the lowest to the highest moods, its like an addiction imo. Nothing you do for these people will mkae them happy, i even proposed(under severe pressure for months, she told me after 10 weeks her pals all thought it was time i asked) and she immediately said i was unromantic and i didnt light a candle…she made me repeat after her, the words she wanted to hear and that her friends would have liked! Nothing to do with my sentiment and a £5k personalised ring! Nothing you ever do will please this kind of person, apart from abandoning your entire life as you knew it before and binning your friends and putting your family last… they want to cacoon you and control your every move, im not sure what kind of behavioural problem this is classed as, but its definitely NUTS!

      • Bill says:

        What you have on your hands is a Borderline Personality.. This field has a disproportionate number of them. It’s like this, these whakos become therapists because they’ve been in therapy for years and there is no means testing or legal reason to exclude them. Yet anyway. I have to work with them, feel your pain in some respects. I can avoid them, you can not. My advice is GET OUT of the relationship. They can’t be helped.

    • bob says:

      My therapist had a relationship with me, she said the first number of weeks were the best of her life yet she produced a suicide letter at the same time and blamed it on me!

      She has tried every trick in the book to control me, she even made up umpteen stories and influenced a client to attack me!

      I could write an encyclopedia of the crazy things she has done…she has multiple personalities and is very plausible in her lies and pursuation to others.

      I am a loving kind guy who just wanted a normal relationship with the same back and i ended up with my therapist making a freak show of me and screwing my head up!

      Very few of “her people” believe me, but i have lots of proof.

      I feel sorry for her, she is the kind of person who is never wrong and wants to manipulate everything you do…a week never went by without a crazy blowup and when she started hitting me i just was so shocked, i should have come away a long time ago, it ended up her hitting me and me having to defend myself…to this day she wouldnt ever admit a thing, butter couldnt melt, its quite incredible!

      The problem with her is she can never see she has a problem, so how can she ever get help and as a therapist she cocoons her massive problems so deep there isnt a chance for her.

      She has made a fool out of me, just a good job im not the sort to sue the pants off her.

      Im sure this is a fairly rare case and after being in a previously abusive relationship and going to her for help in the first place, i feel i am worse now than i was before i went to her as a patient.

      I have lost complete and utter faith in the modern woman, ive lost my inner confidence and im left feeling very lonely inside and empty and i was an ultra outgoing positive guy!

      Im sure if i have another relationship sometime i will be very wary of anything that resembles my relationship with my therapist, i know even before it happens she has wrecked a lot of my future relationship joys, i know i will be much more guarded and closed and thats against my nature.

      I think need to see a therapist?!
      Not a chance!

      • Bill says:

        See above. People with BPD are represented in higher proportion in this field. They aren’t all like this…but too many naturally gravitate to this field.

        • Shawn says:

          Hi Bill – do you have a source for the statement that borderline personalities are over-represented among psychologists? I don’t necessarily doubt it, but I’d like to see the data if you have it.

          • Bill M says:

            Hi Shawn, no, I have no data. Any why would there be data? There are few mental health studies, so to focus on the therapist is a loooong way away. It is based on anecdotal evidence from 15 years as a therapist among other therapists. So let’s say that I’m way off and they are not over represented. still troublesome to me to have this population in this business at all. So, given that traits thread through the population the demarcation is hard to propose. Some axis II therapists seem to benefit their clients if they keep a lid on their outrageous behavior, my observation. they not only create chaos in their clients ives, they create it in their co-workers lives my experience. thank you.

    • Serpentor says:

      Couldn’t have said it better myself… in fact I have said that exact thing on a few other pages. Awesome and well done.

  2. Gina says:

    This is correct. It is not to say there arent competent therapists out there to help you over come your obstacles, especially when you need a outside professinal to help you through emotionally, complex matters. Through my journey, there was abuse and neglect in my childhood and early adulthood. At the age of twenty five it looked like a tornado had hit from both the emotional and physical parts og my life, so naturally and logically I wanted help. I severed ties with my abusive dad, however the cycle and potential of me caving in to his call for me to get sucked back in had me realize I needed help. Here are my “am I on candid camera?” Quotes and/or senerios I have received from therapists on my first and LAST visit ever. “on my first visit to see a male therapist in his home office, I was sitting on one sofa chair and him on the other. As we continued the session he moved so close to me that he practically was on top of me, when I reacted nervously he told me I must feel that way because the bad relationship I have with men, when realistically he clearly didnt understand boundary voilations.” The second one said “do you think your father got abusive because of your mothers drinking?, seriously for a professional not to know tgat abusive people are abusive because of there inherient nature, like for instance a drug user does drugs because they are an addict is desturbing! Then he asks why I am single, he was basing his question from his penis which I found shallow and unprofessional. A woman therapist I seen, after telling her about my compulsive drinking habits said “well if your going to go out, your better off smoking weed instead of drinking! REALLY! Last but not least, I recently moved to Florida. Because of my past attempts to find a good therapist had failed, I thought id give it another shot. I met with this woman therapist, she was asking me what brought me here. I told her I lived in ny my whole life, wanted a change and like florida so far and what it has to offer. I guess thod woman felt she needed to take my optimism diwn a few notches as she replyed “well if your looking to meet someone your not going to have luck here, the clients I talk to say the ones they do meet are self absorbed” WOW,thats all I have to say… was she serious. Im realistic, I know there are good and bad apples out there. Im living my lif we and when the right person comes along thats great, but I certaintly cant understand how shes still in business.

  3. ruby says:

    OMG i don’t want to be a neuropsychologist anymore…
    I don’t want a depressing life where I help others in order to make myself feel better. But i think neuropsychologists are different to psychologists right?
    I’m more interested in laterality, and evolution, and brain diseases, and most of all memory. Does this mean I’m crazy?

    • Annon says:

      I dont think you should be a mental health proffesional, because they dont help people, they think they do, and those receiving the help think they are being helped, but they are just being labelled, drugged, and sometimes locked up, and monitored, and always told “its all in your head, your paranoid”, to make you self doubt yourself, and its not good to be psychoanalysed all the time. You need to become like a brain surgeon, or something medical, you can help people with their memory, do something helpful, not destructive, that leaves people feeling trapped that they are being montiored, in everything they do, and analysed in everything, so they cant be free or be themselves, do brain surgery, or something to do with helping people memorise for a test or something. Evolution isnt good, because it was God who created all things, and things didnt evolve, so thats false anyway Im not sure what laterality is but sounds ok, at least your heping people, or do something really cool like speech therapy, helping people who have a lisp or something. Those that have problems in their social life, they should find God, and hopefully a place where they can go to where there are good people there to help, encourage, and miracles can happen in their lives. You can also do things like ophalmologist, helping blind people see again, or optometrist, helping peoples eye conditions by examining their eyes and prescribing them glasses and contact lenses, the best way you can help someone is be a good encouraging friend and a listener, that should be for free, you dont have to get paid for it, mental health proffesionals are mainly ill themselves, thats why they chose that field, and they drugg people up, and get commision from pharamecuetical companies, force you to beleive your insane, label you, and catarise you, like a production line, and monitor you, so you feel trapped, when you tell them they are wrong, they see you as mad, they have alot of power, and can take your freedom away and lock you in a psychiatric unit, and lots of pple are in mental units, when they are not ill, but are damaged, because noon cares for them, and are all alone. They need love and family and friends around them, and support, eg with employment, housing, education, etc.They need good direction, and healing. emotional healing. A good friend can do that without any drugs at all. Mental health pple are obsessed with drugging up everyone, and alot of pple who were fine , but damaged, ended up being locked away, and were drugged up like zombies and just left there. Its a dangerous, and damaging proffesion, the pple that work in these proffesions are dangerous, and they need to be locked away. They shouldnt be out on the streets. And there are alot of mad pple out there that manipulate, and cheat and steal from pple and dont have a conscience, they are perverted, and immoral, and bullies, and violent without a cause. As well as discriminatory. Those pple need to be locked away. But the pple that get locked away, some of them, are exposed to these evil pple who have damaged their lives, and mental health plle are lableleing them, and torment them further, making them scared, when its those evil pple tht made them all damaged who need to be locked away. Those victims who are vulnerable, need to be safe and just need love. Chose another medical proffesion. Psychiatry isnt a sciene, its all subjctive based on pples opinion, there is not brain scan they do to prove medically that pple are paranoid, or have a disorder, and they willingly prescribe drugs, that are mind altering and they are dangerous, and just because they have a dr. label, they get away. But they arent doctors at all. Be a proper doctor.

  4. Shawn says:

    Wow, guys, I’m beginning to regret posting this article. Well, not really. I’ll just give the other side of the argument: yes, there are some terrible shrinks out there. I’ve met some. I’ve also been involved in hundreds of cases, directly or otherwise, in which psychologists have been able to draw on empirically-supported approaches that solve problems and get lives moving again. It pains me to hear that you folks have had such terrible experiences with my profession.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hi Shawn,
      It is quite revealing that the actual individuals’ persons’ personal responses causes you regret for having posted this article. It gives one the distinct impression that so long as the replies to your article remain only within the limits of your narrative above, then and only then are their replies tolerable. What I will tell you now is that you have missed the boat entirely on that if the following perception I have on the matter is at all accurate — My perception of the responses are that individuals are hungry for an outlet! Furthermore, based on these replies alone; my humble guess is that it is more than likely a much more voluminous number probably unsuccessfully tried to reply to this article.
      It is not that folks are reacting to your article as if a drug overpowered them, but to an outlet surpassing all known time and dimensions (twilight-zone included)long overdue! But, alas, even this tiny offering of illumination we have been given is done so through a blurry little pinhole! And it is at this point in time in which there manifests a desire by the author to begrudgingly whisk back your words once the hole shows signs of turning into a floodgate. Tentative, worried, and concerned more with self-image as well as the image of the psyche-0-logical profession over the pathological treatment by colleagues in the profession to those who are thrust into their dens to be psychically raped and castrated! Hmm? Did someone mention …erm, sadism? Or, is that too harsh? Okay, perhaps, anti-social personality disorder — you know, when a person victimizes another for kicks but also because a region of their cerebral cortex is dead and unable to feel empathy for others.
      Was going to read your part two, even though that was itself a red flag. Why a part two? Is this a soap opera? Some saga meant to hold us in trance? Tut, tut, tut…

      • Sandra says:

        What are you even talking about? I know this is from two years ago, but this reply makes you seem a bit condescending and judgmental. The whole reason why this author had posted this article in the first place was to inform people about how even therapists mess up. Psychology is a tricky subject and it’s even trickier to apply it to real people. However, it is the best that we as human beings are going to get to understanding ourselves and each other. I have been studying psych for a little while in college and I have also just taken a course on helping/counseling people. I learned in that class that people who plan on counseling others should avoid being judgmental and should be empathetic towards the person who needs help. I also learned a lot of other techniques on how not be biased toward people. I was actually so glad that I had taken that class because it made me realize that a good helper needs to have certain personality traits that allow them to be open and kind with people, but to still place boundaries when needed. I also understand now that I do have those traits that make me more capable to help and relate to others. I have also met psychologists who are arrogant and quick to judge, which is why I believe that good helper should not be judging and arrogant because we don’t know everything there is to know about psychology and why humans are the way that we are. For example, psychologists don’t know how to exactly define intelligence. We are still working on it. I guess what I am trying to say is that even psychologists are only human. They are just like the rest of the population of people. Some are good, some are bad, some are OK. And no one in this world has all the answers to everything, which is why we are all trying to figure it all out. We are all just human beings trying to rationalize this crazy world that we live in.

  5. Kelsie says:

    After about a year with the therapist I saw I found out he was crazy! He made me more crazy than I had ever expected to be in my life after he sexually assaulted me during a session and told me not to tell. He said no one would believe me anyway if I did. I will be YEARS before I heal. I’m not sure how since I will not be seeing anymore therapists!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Shawn says:

      Hi Kelsie. I’m so sorry to hear about his behavior. Wherever you live, there should be a reporting authority with whom you can speak. For example, if he were a psychologist here in Colorado, you could call the Board of Psychologist Examiners. Whatever type of therapist he is should have some similar regulating body. The contact information should be on the mandatory disclosure statement he gave you (assuming he did that much). If not, they should be easy to find on the Internet. Please contact them. Shawn

  6. Gilbert De Bruycker says:

    Journal of Clinical Psychology, August 2005 – 61(8); pages 1009-1031
    [not 16(8)]

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jclp.20174/abstract

  7. sadlady says:

    everyone should read a book called “Talk Therapy” and “Confessions of a RX dealer’before ever taking anyone to a “Dr” of any kind for mental health issues. The stories I could tell…and stop telling kids to trust the police..that is just as dangerous!

  8. Scott Adler says:

    True stories: A patient walks into a psychiatrist’s office and says “Doctor! Doctor! You’ve got scotch tape all over your face!” He replies, “Medical reasons.” (Rimshot) patient finds out later that it was because the doctor believes that the tape keeps his face from flying away — and that he has projected his entire psychosis on the patient and entered it into his file, which has to stay there for seven years. Or this one: “Doctor! Doctor! Aren’t you a little old to be practicing psychiatry?” He croaked, “I’m only eighty-five, or is it fifty-eight? Don’t remember much these days…” Not only did he have dementia, it turned out that he was an imposter, and not a psychiatrist at all. Or how about this one: “Doctor! Doctor! People are beating me up!” She replies, “let’s talk about how you masturbate… Tell me what you think about.” I now realize that she was suffering from acute depression. I could mention the liberal playboy narcissist, the feminist chauvinist pig, or my present doctor, who has Asperger’s and extreme pack rat symptoms — you should see his office. What the hell does someone with PTSD do????

  9. Pam says:

    I wish I had read this and commented earlier. I could write a book about my experience trying to find a good therapist and get help.

    So far, the best help I got was when I did my own reading of research articles and textbooks while studying to become a therapist. After reading it, I really don’t understand why there is so much trouble finding a good therapist; except for this; there are so many profit professional psych schools who take almost anyone in their program.

    From the textbooks and the journal articles and research, I was able to begin to figure out why I was having trouble in my marriage but not how to cure the problem; something that years of therapy never helped me uncover.

    Hitting bottom and exploring my own childhood with the help of an addiction sponsor; this is what really has led to help and healing. Not therapy.

    Despite all this I continued in therapy. This not only got me no where but I was denied the real help I needed over and over and the facility has record of my requests for help. All of this stuff continued and my discouragement with mental health counselors was so bad that I quit school. I realized I would likely be one more bad therapist.

    I have had two good therapists out of around 25 I have tried. One was my group therapist at a hospital where I was treated and I was able to continue free sessions as an observing alumni. All the months and years and weeks of therapy, inpatient; outpatient; and weekly, did nothing compared the reading I did in current and old research, the free alumni group therapy with this one therapist, and most important, the 12 steps, my 12 step group and sponsor. half.

    Odds of finding a competent therapist from my experience: about 1 in 25. that is after about 6 months of expensive time consuming jaunts of 50 minutes per week to figure out the person isn’t educated or knowledgeable or intelligent enough enough to help, or worse, they waste precious time that could have been spent working out a solution.

    In what other profession are people paid full wages to interview them for the job? I have to spend 50 minutes and 100 bucks to chit chat for an hour with a therapist so she can meet me. This is nuts. I want to know who they have helped; what they studied; where they studied; did they do research; how do they keep up with the most current treatments; what experience do they have with my disorder, and how successful are they. We should not have to pay to see if a therapist is appropriate for us. My life is way past 1/2 over and I am no longer pretending I will get help from a therapist I might stumble on. I will continue to draw on what I learned from those who were intelligent and competent and added to my ability to cope during the week.

    • Shawn says:

      Hi Pam, you said, “We should not have to pay to see if a therapist is appropriate for us.” I agree 100%. It’s the main reason I offer a free consultation, as do many other therapists. It just seems the ethical thing to do since there is really no way to know if therapist and client are a good fit without sitting down face-to-face.

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  11. Lashonda says:

    I hope my psychologist gets eaten by a lion.

  12. Leine says:

    I hate to admit this…but there is some truth to this article… I’m getting my masters in social work now and as I advance and meet other social workers and people in a counselling profession I do notice MANY of them have a screwed up childhood where they were abused or neglected at one point. Many of these people also went to counselling themselves for these problems!
    I chose to go into counselling because I went to a therapist when I was a teenager. My parents were neglectful alcoholics and up until I started going to therapy I was considered a bit of a “sociopath” because I was so numbed I could do almost anything to anyone, or myself, and not feel any feeling. I was taught not to feel from a very young age. People don’t understand now alcoholism hurts everyone.
    After going to therapy I actually CRIED the first time I felt real happiness. I decided to become a councilor because I feel like through everything, having to discover feelings, forgiving my family, learning how to feel normal, I think I should be able to empathize with my patients who don’t know what “normal” is.
    Anyway, some people can handle the pain of listening to peoples problems. Some people can’t. They hear the pain of others and they internalize it. They make their clients problem their own instead of realizing that only the client can change their life. I’d like to think that some people are “born councilors”. They are fascinated by solving the problems of others and they’re great listeners. When looking for a therapist, try to find someone who gives you advice but doesn’t tell you what you should do. Find someone who is kind and empathetic but doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable.

    • brad says:

      I LOVE your post, Leine. I bet you’ll make a great therapist. As with any profession (or anything, for that matter), there is good and bad …and mostly in-between. Sometimes the same therapist can be great for one person and horrible for another, whether it be because of the relationship or the therapeutic approach or countless other factors. I hope people who have had bad experiences with therapists do not give up on the idea of therapy, itself. We could all benefit by the opportunity to work out our issues with an empathic, objective, insightful and skilled person. There are many therapists who fit that description and who have helped a lot of people improve their lives.

  13. JAYJ says:

    My spouses mother is a psychotherapist and she is the one that needs therapy. All of her kids will not talk to her, she lives alone with 5 cats, she spends her time at bars trying to pick up on men to have sex with, she jumps to conclusions about every situation and person, she is rude, she talks about her patients (which I am NOT supposed to be hearing!), she is a narcissist, she is currently going on a spending spree because she actually managed to somewhat tie a guy down and she thinks it makes her look good. Buying a new BMW, adding onto the house, getting newer windows, and buying an expensive computer you will never use and is way out of your league is dumb. She loves that her bf lost his job so she can constrict her prey. The woman is disgusting and treats/treated her kids HORRIBLY! She is violent, abusive, and moody. She wrangled her 47 year old son to come live with her so he could fix her practice, save her from losing her house, fix the home’s problems and after taking care of all these thing she just through him out after he sold his house, put his life on hold, and saved her career and home. TOTAL BITCH! Then she has the nerve to trash talk him to her boyfriends (she keeps more than one) and to her sons’ spouse. She treated her grandchildren like crap (one of which is now dead). My parents had it right avoid these people at all costs. Next time your son won’t be there to bail you out. Then maybe you will learn what is really important in life you selfish evil bitch. I hope you have to lay on your death bed and think about what you did to those children. Every abuse you were suppose to save them from YOU inflicted. You should be ashamed!

    • Shawn says:

      Hi JayJ – if you’ll pardon a very crass question, what is this woman’s licensure? Is she a psychologist? A social worker? Licensed professional counselor?

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  16. Laura says:

    It is saddening to see the number of people who have had negative experiences with psychologists and therefore believe all people of this profession will do more harm then good. I am fortunate enough to be able to say i have experienced both, that is, psychologists who are extremely good at their job and those who… well… lets just say they should have fired their careers advisers.

    One experience i have had involved the psychologist telling me unnecessary details from her private life, and many occasions where she was insensitive to some of the difficulties i was experiencing at the time. While i am sure this person was helpful to some people out there, she didn’t fit well with me.
    On the other hand, two years ago i was working with a Psychologist who was a perfect fit. She listened without judgement, maintained professional boundaries at all times, was extremely patient and gave me advice and strategies without making my decisions for me. I was able to sort out years and years of issues in the short time that i saw her, and when it came time for us to go our separate ways she found and introduced me to another psychologist to see, so as to not lose the progress i had made.

    I know there are many valid points in the above article and it honestly breaks my heart to read about the negative experiences people have had when going to a professional for help. I just want to say to the skeptical people that extremely good psychologists do exist, (sometimes you just have to do a little digging) and they have inspired me to study Psychology myself and strive to be one of the “good” ones.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Agree. Therapists go into the field out of fear, shame, anger, and personality problems, desiring to experience asymmetrical relationships in which they can stay hidden and feel powerful and in control while the other is exposed and vulnerable and “needing” their “care.” They do it to serve themselves and feed their own narcissistic needs, and try to fool themselves and others into thinking it’s because they want to “help people.”

    • Anon says:

      Amen. The only psychs I have worked with have been both PhDs, and custody evaluators. The totally ignore the severe psychopathology of my ex (T-scores in high 70 on 3 scales, high 60s on 3 others, not shitting), history of emotional and physical abuse, raging, safety risks, etc. (Ex is NPD/ASPD), minimize it say he is PASSIVE. And then call me a narcissist for daring to state that people in the family court system really don’t do their job protecting kids from abusive parents. I gave specific examples to show her the history (years) of litigation crazy making and how supervised visitation should have never been removed, let alone give him half time, etc. And I’m the narcissist because I call a spade a spade. She was nice at first, then turned witchy. Reminded me of my ex, cluster B shit.c

  18. Overhaul Psychotherapy says:

    Psychotherapy by nature is a profession that stonewalls consumers from expressing grievances. Even if you can complain, how does one prevent retaliation from a therapist who has the power to document in your case as he or she now likes? Does that file now follow you to a “new” therapist?

    I initially approached therapy believing that the stigma associated with seeing a “shrink” was unwarranted. I thought the rest of society needed to catch up with us patients and give the people gracious enough to dedicate their lives to helping others overcome pain their just due.

    After years of therapy, I now see it as extremely dangerous. I sought therapy for PTSD after surviving domestic violence. My psychologist told me that if I really wanted to kill myself I would have used more pills.

    I needed a psychosocial to find housing after homelessness and she spent most of the time telling me the form was too long for her complete. Then she agreed to assist if she could have the number to the housing center. I signed the release she gave me to contact the party.

    She used that opportunity to tell this man that I had tried to previously get a psychosocial for housing from another therapist. That was a complete lie.

    I found out only after calling him to find out how much longer I had to complete the documentation. He told me what she said and he believed her. One would think that she obviously broke confidentiality laws and that would be a red flag.

    I requested a new therapist within the same agency, was denied and called the State to find a new therapist on my own. They asked me why I wanted to with and I was honest.

    I will never return to therapy ever again. Even if I wanted to, I am certain that she has severely undermined me in her case notes.

  19. missbelle says:

    I’ll argue the entire INSTITUTION of therapy is pretty nuts. I mean, we have a subordinating, infantilizing, phony relationship pretending to guide us towards independence and authenticity.

    Then the practitioner gives us all kinds of signals that we’re supposed to suspend judgment and idolize him.

    The stability of the shrink only is the first problem.
    http://disequilibrium1.wordpress.com/2010/10/10/a-disgruntled-ex-psychotherapy-client-speaks-her-piece/

    • Shawn says:

      Hi Missbelle, the link you posted is certainly worth a read. I’m pretty vocal about criticizing my profession, but I wouldn’t want someone to read about a few bad experiences and run away. Lots of people use psychologists to overcome anxiety disorders, learning disabilities, relationship problems, and so on, and psychologists can do great things with these problems. But you do have to be wary of who you hire to do the work. We’re not all crazy. Some of us (and I would argue from experience that level of education correlates with a clinician’s devotion to scientific thinking), are actually quite good at what we do, and our services are a good investment of time and money. Others, you are correct, probably should be doing a different job.

      • Laura says:

        How are consumers to identify the good ones/bad ones *before* wasting enormous amounts of time and money, and potentially suffering emotional damage in the process? With such a blind product, the field is ripe for exploitation.

        Psychotherapy has not yet earned a valid place in the world. In order to do so, it has to demonstrate that it adheres to scientific and ethical principles, including “first do no harm.” Until therapists can clearly articulate what processes/methodologies and what combinations of client/therapist relationships cause benefits and which cause harm, and why, they are not in a position to navigate away from harming clients. And until they have that sorted out, it is irresponsible and unethical for them to experiment and try things out on clients — collecting lots of money and spending lots of time, figuring that it may work or may harm them some of the time.

        • Shawn says:

          Hi Laura – Agreed, therapists have no business experimenting on clients. Most of us don’t. Personally, I rely on empirically-validated treatments, as do the other psychologists I hang out with. That’s probably the first thing to look for when considering a therapist.

        • Anon says:

          Are you kidding me? Psychologists have the child custody industry in their deep deep pockets. Run by a bunch of court whore narcissists. The love perpetuating abuse on the kids as long as they get to go to Club Med a few times a year. Considering those who contest custody are only about 2-5% of all divorces, and only half the population divorces, that equals about 1/2 (one of the partners) of the fighters and also equals the prevalance of cluster B in the population. Never have I seen or heard of a PhD or a Psy D properly dciagnosing, using the tests that are supposedly valid and actually doing what’s in the best interest of the child. They just write out psychobabble, victimize protective parents and kids, and perpetuate lengthy protracted ‘fights for life’ over the kids. Everyone suffers except the perpetrator/cluster B and the therapist.

      • missbelle says:

        My blog makes no assertions about how many shrinks are competent or crazy. It questions the very framework of therapy: a jargonized , artificial set-up that treats normal coping as a disease and complex human beings as insect specimens. It’s a highly distorted, “theoretical” interaction that ultimately felt no more authentic than faith healing as I experienced it.

      • Anon says:

        Level of education has nothing to do with. Hogwash. My kids have seen a LCSW for years and she’s the only one who will call abuse, abuse. The PhDs give you fucking psycho babble and re-victimize the victims.

  20. missbelle says:

    Thanks for your respectful response. The discussion on my http://disequilibrium1.wordpress.com/ blog is less about “crazy” healers and more about the fantasy-based foundation of therapeutic dynamics.

    The practitioner and client are in fictional roles that bestow distorted power to the therapist. The profession admits the client/patient often is rendered childlike. The regressed client has even fewer resources to evaluate efficacy or abuse, and that regression itself can be antithetical to healing.

    For instance, authors on therapeutic sexual abuse propose that worst damage rises from the dynamic preceding the abuse. But many clients, abused or not, are lured toward dependency and suspension of judgment while in treatment.

  21. Stephanie says:

    Veterinarians may have a higher rate of suicide than other professionals and except for the easy access to euthanasia drugs, I would think a lot of the reasons discussed in this article would apply to therapists as well: http://news.vin.com/VINNews.aspx?articleId=18511

    Also, a factoid for you, lemmings don’t actually commit suicide. I know, you may have watched a nature “documentary” about this. The animals were actually flown in to that site and flung off the cliff by way of a turntable for the benefit of the film. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemming

  22. Jamie says:

    I have had some really hellish experiances with psychiatrists and phychologists, but I would like to say that without one I would very likely not be here today. I have Borderline Personality Disorder, PTSD, and Acute Anxiety. I will not take any form of medication to help with these problems because of a family history of drug abuse and a general distrust of psych meds. I was on a very fast track to complete destruction. Not just for myself, but for every single human being that I came in contact with; my friends, kids, family. I met a therapist who suggested DBT therapy (she was trained in it), and explained to me what it was. I didn’t think this crap could possibly work. I am a jumpy, gaurded, distrustful person; my therapist is, what I will lable, a “hippie”. I already don’t like her. TOO HAPPY. She ignores my gaurdedness but respects my bounderies (even when I refuse to respect hers) and week after week asks me to consider DBT. I finally relent. It freaking works; I couldn’t believe it. It’s hard, it hurts, it’s scary, and it works. She saved my life. Then one year into my therapy I lost my insurance and my lifeboat. I am crushed, but still hopefull. Not all Psych people are charletons; they may be a little odd sometimes…but hey, look at those fingers pointing right back at you.

  23. jennysunshine says:

    I have several psychologists/psych majors in my family and they are all crazy! Not all are officially diagnosed, but it’s obvious they all have mental problems. I know we all have our issues but the psych majors in my family are the ones who cause all the drama and need all the attention. Super jealous control freaks. It’s so strange they cannot see what the rest of us see about them. And to top it all off, they are the ones always trying to point the finger and access others with the psych problems. One is especially bad and has caused a rift in our family due to her incredibly jealous, controlling, manipulative behavior. She is evil!

  24. Lashonda says:

    By far, one of my favorite blog’s regarding the subject of “crazy mental health practitioners”

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-99th-monkey/200906/whos-the-crazy-one

  25. darcy says:

    In all of therapy the only thing I have learned is how to obsess about my problems. According to her to get better talking about my problems is the only way. Who exactly is she helping.

  26. Bill says:

    My opinion is that Personality disordered people should be screened out of the ability to be therapists. It’s mostly about empathy. These people have none or very little, they become therapists because they’ve been in therapy for years and there they develop their con game. This “disorder” cannot be therapized, helped or regulated. These are people that are not in the so called Axis ! category of mood disorders, anxiety or psychosis. I have no problem with this population and even a psychotic therapist on his/her meds is fine by me, may help to be helped by someone like this. At least they have empathy. These borderlines belong somewhere between the criminal system and mental health. I will not see one in therapy, and have a nose for them in my workplace and avoid them at all costs. These posts seem legitimate, however one caveat is that borderlines can also be clients and post their lie fantasies. This population is the pink haired shooters, the Donald Trump’s (a guess admittedly) , and the rest of the spectrum we see every day public and private. Manipulators is a good word. So recommend you all read up on Borderline range diagnoses and stay away from these people, they can’t be helped, are dangerous to our collective mental health. And ask yourself why you would want to be in any kind of relationship with them????

  27. Natalie says:

    Having a handful of former “friends” in marriage and family therapy, sadly, all your bullet points would not surprise me if they were true about at least two of these highly trained therapists.

    I have had to shut one out of my life because she is needy and narcissistic and I’m afraid to confront her. She is constantly reaching out for attention. I have no idea how she can possibly treat her clients when she is flailing desperately.

    I don’t trust therapists, or people who are therapists, because of my limited experience with my acquaintances and friends in the field and my own sessions. Some of the Goddamn creepiest people I know are therapists :(

  28. Hannah says:

    No knowing how utterly incompetent and even crazy therapists are. makes me question your own credibility. THERE ARE NO TALK TREATMENTS. It’s all left to the personal competence of the therapist, and anyone who READS can see that so anyone who actually gets this bogus degree is already cracked.

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