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therapy turns the merry-go-round?

Old 03-29-2011, 08:37 PM
  # 21 (permalink)  
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I was looking at a more recent thread and found a quote taken from a page about emotional abuse, and on that site were resources that included these pages. Coping with Your Abuser

I found this section particularly relevant.

"I described in "The Guilt of the Abused - Pathologizing the Victim" how the system is biased and titled against the victim.

Regrettably, mental health professionals and practitioners – marital and couple therapists, counselors – are conditioned, by years of indoctrinating and dogmatic education, to respond favorably to specific verbal cues.

The paradigm is that abuse is rarely one sided – in other words, that it is invariably "triggered" either by the victim or by the mental health problems of the abuser. Another common lie is that all mental health problems can be successfully treated one way (talk therapy) or another (medication).

This shifts the responsibility from the offender to his prey. The abused must have done something to bring about their own maltreatment – or simply were emotionally "unavailable" to help the abuser with his problems. Healing is guaranteed if only the victim were willing to participate in a treatment plan and communicate with the abuser. So goes the orthodoxy.

Refusal to do so – in other words, refusal to risk further abuse – is harshly judged by the therapist. The victim is labeled uncooperative, resistant, or even abusive!

The key is, therefore, feigned acquiescence and collaboration with the therapist's scheme, acceptance of his/her interpretation of the events, and the use of key phrases such as: "I wish to communicate/work with (the abuser)", "trauma", "relationship", "healing process", "inner child", "the good of the children", "the importance of fathering", "significant other" and other psycho-babble. Learn the jargon, use it intelligently and you are bound to win the therapist's sympathy.

Above all – do not be assertive, or aggressive and do not overtly criticize the therapist or disagree with him/her.

I make the therapist sound like yet another potential abuser – because in many cases, he/she becomes one as they inadvertently collude with the abuser, invalidate the abuse experiences, and pathologize the victim."
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Old 03-29-2011, 08:50 PM
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And more; I've put in bold type the part that really got me, from my experience.
The Guilt of the Abused


"Therapists are not immune to these ubiquitous and age-old influences and biases.

They are amenable to the considerable charm, persuasiveness, and manipulativeness of the abuser and to his impressive thespian skills. The abuser offers a plausible rendition of the events and interprets them to his favor. The therapist rarely has a chance to witness an abusive exchange first hand and at close quarters. In contrast, the abused are often on the verge of a nervous breakdown: harassed, unkempt, irritable, impatient, abrasive, and hysterical.

Confronted with this contrast between a polished, self-controlled, and suave abuser and his harried casualties – it is easy to reach the conclusion that the real victim is the abuser, or that both parties abuse each other equally. The prey's acts of self-defense, assertiveness, or insistence on her rights are interpreted as aggression, lability, or a mental health problem."
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Old 03-29-2011, 09:01 PM
  # 23 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by emp919 View Post
Regrettably, mental health professionals and practitioners marital and couple therapists, counselors are conditioned, by years of indoctrinating and dogmatic education, to respond favorably to specific verbal cues.

The paradigm is that abuse is rarely one sided in other words, that it is invariably "triggered" either by the victim or by the mental health problems of the abuser. Another common lie is that all mental health problems can be successfully treated one way (talk therapy) or another (medication).

Refusal to do so in other words, refusal to risk further abuse is harshly judged by the therapist. The victim is labeled uncooperative, resistant, or even abusive!

The key is, therefore, feigned acquiescence and collaboration with the therapist's scheme, acceptance of his/her interpretation of the events, and the use of key phrases such as: "I wish to communicate/work with (the abuser)", "trauma", "relationship", "healing process", "inner child", "the good of the children", "the importance of fathering", "significant other" and other psycho-babble. Learn the jargon, use it intelligently and you are bound to win the therapist's sympathy.

Above all do not be assertive, or aggressive and do not overtly criticize the therapist or disagree with him/her.

I make the therapist sound like yet another potential abuser because in many cases, he/she becomes one as they inadvertently collude with the abuser, invalidate the abuse experiences, and pathologize the victim."
Sorry but I will vociferiously defend therapists since I work directly in the mental health field. There are so many different types of methods that therapists practice, that to put it all in such a context is grossly inaccurate. There is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Psychoanalytic, Biofeedback, Family practices, etc etc. Each one is unique and applies different bodies of thoughts behind the method.

There is no scheme or subversive motive behind a therapist to outwit or manipulate a client. That would actually be misconduct and they would lose their license! Clients are not viewed as 'prey' or 'less than' because all your assumptions are counter to how therapy actually works. Therapists don't have agendas because the whole point of it is understanding each client and providing them with tools to cope with a variety of issues.

Sounds like you had a bad experience with therapy which is sad because someone did you a misservice if what you took away was that a therapist is just another type of abuser. Very sad actually.
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Old 03-29-2011, 09:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Tuffgirl View Post
I actually posted the therapy question to the alcoholism forum and did not get one positive response, although many thanked me for hanging in there with the RAH. No one thought it was a good idea until the RAH had been in recovery for at least a year. We tried anyway with a great therapist - LMFT with an addictions specialty... and I think the RAH liked it. But I didn't...imagine that. I couldn't sit there and listen to him QUACK! And the therapist had me come in alone and told me this...unless I can find some patience with the RAH's process, this would not be successful. My response: we're done for now, cause I don't have the patience and I have my own issues to work through myself.

I canceled any future sessions and stick to AA for him and Al-Anon for me, knowing I can go back to that when some real honesty is able to occur. Until then... pffft...waste of time.

The EXABF and I tried joint therapy-had 6 sessions paid for by his work. The first session was fine, the rest of them went downhill as ABF deflected everything back to me. When the therapist called him on it, he walked out of the session and refused to go back. At the time, he was sober but not going to AA (to him,a cult and waste of time). I had been going to Al-Anon for quite some time and the therapist complimented me on that.

Since then, (last summer) he has been to a psychiatrist (who called him on his s**t) - he refused to go back, a men's addiction group (too many "addicts), group therapy for anxiety and depression (didn't apply to him)
and now..well, he is going it alone as I have pulled the plug on our relationship.
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Old 03-29-2011, 09:23 PM
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My apologies; posting that quote (or initiating this thread) was certainly not meant as an attack on therapists or the therapy profession. My only take on what I quoted (and the only reason, really, for my posting it) from that article is that the therapist is not immune to being duped or manipulated; the abuser is fantastic at manipulation and is very artful and "suave", very collected and calm, even falsely generous toward the abused in the presence of the therapist. Perhaps this speaks less to the therapist's acuity and more to the dubious abilities of the abuser.

And sadly yes, I have yet to find an instance in which the therapist is able to recognize it for what it is.

~emp919
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Old 03-30-2011, 04:09 AM
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Yup, and law enforcement professionals are susceptible, too.

When I used to help train them on DV responses, we explained that the abuser may seem to be the calm, reasonable one, while the victim may seem hysterical. We taught them that the usual rules for judging credibility don't apply in these situations. Some of them even seemed to learn that! We saw a lot of progress in police response over the time we have been training them.
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Old 03-30-2011, 07:05 AM
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Nice to know that training in this can help some to see the situation clearly.

I switched our therapists three times in attempting joint therapy work with my AH, which he saw as wishy-washy and just belied my lack of desire to really "work on things". It was more a desperate maneuver on my part to find *anyone* who could see through his artifice; who could see me clinging to the side of the therapy couch like a skittish animal and wonder if there was something more than met the eye, instead of supposing that I have an anxiety disorder and AH seems perfectly reasonable. Abuse leaves you so turned around, it is nearly impossible (or was for me) to just gather my intellect for therapy sessions and "present" as well as my AH, even though I am normally competent in communicating.

And since he started the whole delusional ball rolling with the help of his own therapist who did not see through it, with each new therapist we saw together, the delusion ball just grew bigger and bigger and bigger, as it seemed to prove to him that yes... he was right and yes... I was crazy. His monologues in session were so cunning; so seamlessly woven. You could almost pinpoint the moment when he had the therapist locked in, and I suddenly became completely unsafe *in* a therapist's office. It was horrifying.

Speaks to the abuse, I suppose, that I have a hard time feeling like this description I just gave is even good enough to be believed. I am so fearful all the time that I won't be believed.

~emp919
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Old 03-30-2011, 07:15 AM
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emp919,

I believe you. I believe every word you say.

Beth

I am sorry you have to deal with this.
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Old 03-30-2011, 07:25 AM
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Thanks Beth, I am grateful.

And to those who read this thread or any of my contributions and suppose I am against the therapy field, I am most fervently not. If even one of the therapists we saw had seen through my AH, things might be different now. I found one therapist who, after hearing what was going on from me over the phone (not in session, I was looking for a therapist for us), commented on how AH sounded narcissistic and abusive. But AH did not want to go to a male therapist. He wanted a female. Isn't that curious.

I speak from time to time with a wonderful addictions therapist who has been able to reflect back to me the truth of my situation and experience, as well as confirm what I tend to second-guess as far as the addictions go with AH; the patterns, the behaviors, etc. So that has been very healing. It has just been amazing in a psychological-horror-movie sort of way, how adept he is at twisting facts, experiences and the minds of people (therapists, me, my own family, friends, coworkers) to the bent of his delusion.

~emp919
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Old 03-30-2011, 03:34 PM
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I believe you, too.

I think marital therapy is a very bad idea, in general, for people in abusive relationships for this reason in particular. Our family court will not PERMIT joint counseling when there is a restraining order in effect.

I don't know how anyone can engage in useful therapy with an abuser. You cannot be open and honest during the sessions out of fear of what that will get you.

Therapy in these situations HAS to be done separately, IMO.
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Old 03-30-2011, 03:54 PM
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That's just it; it seemed so "not right" that I did not even feel safe in the presence of a "trained" third party, to be honest. I was the one who had to go back home with him or deal with the intimidation or the threats during the week until our next session.

One time just before a session of "imago" work where it was supposed to be my turn that evening to bring up a topic and do most of the sharing, I was a nervous wreck and then he instigated something intentionally to shift the power, because I think he was really resenting having to go to a session and endure listening to me. He made threats the whole way there, talked of taking the kids and how he would "discipline them the way he wanted" once they were in his hands, etc. He completely sabotaged me. By the time we pulled into the parking lot I was shaking, and frozen. I had already struggled and prayed all week long about what to choose as my "topic", the whole treading on eggshells thing.

In tears, while my husband sat coolly across from me, I told the therapist I did not know what to say, that nothing felt safe to approach as a topic; she said well, make your sharing about that, then. So I did, thinking maybe she'd "get it"; while he glared at me and narrowed his eyes and then played the therapy game whenever the therapist was watching. At the end of the session, the therapist gave me the name of a specialist who works with anxiety disorders. When the truth was, it was his presence that put me in that state. If that had been an individual session I would have been collected, well-spoken, and capable of engaging in thoughtful discussion.

All the while, because cruelty was never his forte through the whole of our relationship, part of my anxiety response was pure shock and horror, because it felt inconceivable that he could become so capable and so determined in his abusive behavior, and do it in a manner that has so far evaded the notice of therapists, family, sponsors, etc. It wasn't ending, I never felt safe, and even the people who are supposed to catch this, weren't catching it. You end up feeling totally unprotected and like nobody is going to defend you once your AH gets a hold of them.

Okay enough from me. Thanks to all for your responses to this thread; nice to know I'm not crazy. Therapy is "supposed" to help, and so you begin to wonder, when things go so wrong...

I appreciate the input and feedback and support...

~emp919
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Old 03-30-2011, 04:18 PM
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I DO encourage therapy for YOU, though.

All alone, without him there messing with your head.

NOT someone who is seeing him, too--someone totally separate (and preferably someone who deals with DV victims). If you call your local DV hotline they can probably recommend someone to you. Another resource is your local DA's office Victim Advocate office. They have a ton of resources for counseling, and can work with you to help keep you safe while you're pursuing it. Usually they can help with at least a referral even if you don't have an active case or restraining order.
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Old 03-30-2011, 04:38 PM
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Thanks Lexie; I have a reference from my addictions therapist; her colleague in a clinic that works with addicts and their family, who specializes in abuse issues... so that's a resource I have handy for processing, when/as I can...
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Old 03-30-2011, 05:05 PM
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Yesterday I was discussing with a therapist who works with a DV client if abusers can ever really 'change'. She said that usually what gets them to change is time in prison. Other than that, therapy alone seldom makes a difference. There are therapists that do have a better understanding of this stuff than others. Add on an addiction issue and the work becomes an exercise in futility.

I worked directly with a woman whose husband was an abuser and he did think he was manipulating us and calling the shots but we were all well aware of it. He also had a narcisstic personality which made him even more grandiose in the thinking so the therapist working with the family would indulge him only to get more information on how to help the others in the family cope with his crazy. Therapy isn't always about fixing, it can be just to make coping more possible. A good therapist can see right through the manipulation but are limited in how to address is if the person is resistant to any type of intervention.

Unless a person in counseling or therapy WANTS to change, it is an uphill battle for all involved.
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Old 03-30-2011, 05:30 PM
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Thanks babyblue, I appreciate the perspective.

It's ironic you should mention prison, because it is beginning to feel that the only surefire chance of anything hopeful would be for AH's house of cards (which is extensive) to come tumbling down and all the "artifice" and "facade" stripped away undeniably, which would be the case in such an outcome. He wouldn't be able to fake it with anyone, play victim or manipulate the truth, because the truth would be what it would be: prison.

Not really wasting much time hoping for that, though. Trying to get revenge by living well instead.

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Old 03-30-2011, 05:41 PM
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For us who really want to live good lives and do well by others, it makes no sense that people will push the limit until they get arrested or locked up but that is because they LACK insight.

It may be the only way to get some people to 'wake up'. So you are doing the best thing by recognizing what may lay ahead and not letting that stop you from taking care of yourself.

I'll go a step further and say that you will come out of this so much more knowledgeable and stronger and that will be the ultimate revenge
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Old 03-30-2011, 06:01 PM
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Thanks... becoming knowledgeable and stronger is a lot of work; trying to trust the process and believe it will all feel worth it! :-) I know it will make a difference to my children.
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