mental health Sundays #7 - therapist abuse

“A couple of years ago, I was matched with a therapist who seemed like a good fit; they were nonbinary like me, experienced with graduate students, and initially communicated a willingness to do remote therapy, as part of my life at the time involved a lot of moving. Our first few sessions were pretty fun, we laughed a lot, and they teased me. We joked around, which I thought was a good sign, as I've had therapists who Ive made cry with my stories and I was sick of it. As our sessions moved forward, my therapist inferred that I had some kind of issue but wouldn't talk with me directly about diagnosis. They described these complicated theoretical phsychoanalytics but never fully explained why, so as the sessions moved on I became increasingly confused and disoriented. I felt like there was something terribly wrong with me all of the time and began to look at my therapist as some authority over my experience. All the while, they continued to belittle me during our sessions.

The problematic dynamic wasn't obvious to me until our (unexpected) last day when I tried to clarify with them about our remote therapy plans; they told me that they weren't willing to do it and that they would keep me in their system if I ever wanted to come back. No recommendations. No closure. I went into my car and cried hysterically and then it hit me...this therapist had been playing into my abandonment fears on purpose. They had been gaslighting me and confusing me because they could. It was a horrifying experience, but I learned a couple of things: 1) I am the authority on my experiences 2) I deserve to have a therapist who respects my boundaries and doesn't play mind games with me 3) I am resilient. Thankfully I'd had positive therapist experiences beforehand, but if I hadn't I likely one...because here I am with a new one and on a beautiful track toward recovery.” - anonymous