Are you enmeshed with a helping professional or a spiritual guide?
Do you feel entangled with your employees or clients?
CAUTION: As you read
this, you may discover some disturbing facts
about yourself and people you know. Please discuss with friends
how damage or abuse may apply to you ... and to them.
Please avoid hasty conclusions or retribution.
We help people solve emotional and relationship problems and we meet
many people who have tried other sources of help. We learn from them some
consequences of psychological theories, cults and New Age
psycho-theologies. This helps us provide mentorship
Although most helping professionals and mentors have good intentions,
we developed ways to help people manage the consequences of spiritual
and therapeutic abuses that comprise therapist damage or
Sometimes mentor damage must be resolved before people can move on
with their lives. (Here are some
comments about experiences with therapists / counselors that may be stranger than fiction.)
Abusers usually claim good intentions. They may say
that they want to help you enjoy perfect mental health or wonderful
spiritual experiences. They may say that they want you to avoid hell
or prevent further suffering. They may tell you that they want
to protect you, or that they will help you by making important decisions for you.
Healthy mentor qualities include maturity, emotional stability
and competence; and deficiencies in those areas may result in damaged clients or
patients. It is wise to recognize which potential mentors and helping
professionals avoid resolving their own emotional baggage or do not heal their own
I have a PhD in psychology ... I know many
mental health professionals who specialize
in their own problems and project
their issues onto their clients. Some therapists are
codependent, dysfunctional behavior ... don't give away your power.
Beware of therapists who only offer intellectual insights or statistical
analyses. Beware of mentors who are depressed, arrogant, dissociated or who try to cling
to you. Beware of counselors who are irresponsible, overly sympathetic or
immature - especially if they want you to like them - or worse, if they want
you to be like them!
I was in therapy for 12 years and
felt worse coming out than I did going in.
compulsive disorder remained unchanged, my socially avoidant
was the same, I was still depressed ... and I
felt worse because I was so angry at the therapists.
Beware of helping professionals who are overly
sympathetic. If they stop being curious, instead of listening to you,
they only listen to themselves. They may make intuitions (guesses
spoken as inspired truths) and commence interventions
without checking whether those interventions are appropriate. They may treat you
like a child.
My psychiatrist conditioned me with a sort of continuing shock treatment
that was so obnoxious that I pretended to be normal to escape
For example, if a coach, counselor or therapist tells you that
you must forgive someone who violated your values ... forced
forgiveness may deny your emotions, prevent your learning and
delay your maturity. I see forced forgiveness as a form of
abuse (the abuser acts like a bullying parent or a judgmental priest).
Therapists offer varying suggestions
because they have adopted beliefs from their mentors
and colleagues about
what makes people get better. But they usually fail to question these
assumptions, regarding them as self-evident truths and applying them
to everyone who walks
through the door. Sometimes they fit, but
sometimes—probably between 30 and 50 percent
of the time—they
don't. From Am I Crazy or is it My Shrink?
Lasting happiness seems to require that you make
decisions and take responsibility for your choices, including your choice
of who you trust, even when the consequences are unpleasant. Were
your actions through naivety, misinformation or ignorance? Understanding the consequences can help you make better decisions.
How to Assess a Coach, Therapist or Mentor
Although professional associations
will not vouch for the character or stability of their
members, you can seek evidence of competence and maturity.
Observe how they mentor people.
Talk to people who were mentored by them. Ask for a test session. Read a
transcript, if you
can. Discover if a potential mentor ...
- lives their philosophy
- provides useful feedback
- assesses needs and problems
- has effective interpersonal skills
- has quality personal relationships
- tries to understand your relationships
- is sensitive and genuine
- is competent and caring
- is accepting and empathic
- is trustworthy and credible
- is friendly and knowledgeable
- is experienced and supportive
Is this person likely to
help you change your beliefs and habits?
Good mentoring includes
Can this person inspire you to:
- recover and use your missing
qualities, expertise and skills?
- evaluate your beliefs and change relationship entanglements?
- end self-criticism and inner
conflict, and recover your integrity?
- resolve emotional trauma and abuse and
rebuild your motivation?
- assess and replace relationship bonds
for healthier relationships?
- repair mentor or therapy damage and
find inspirational mentorship?
- fulfill your goals, manage your
objections and plan your success?
Mentor Abuse & Toxic Mentorship
Helping professionals make mistakes. Occasionally I forget
an appointment, I lose my notes, I get the time zone wrong - whatever.
Although my mistakes can be annoying, inconvenient and embarrassing, they are
probably not abusive.
What about someone who tries to bend you to fit a technique,
rather than bending a technique to fit you? Few people are identical and what
worked last week for another person may be inappropriate for you.
My therapist uses fancy words
to explain why his treatments should work,
but avoids the subject of why they don't work, except to call me resistant.
Abuse begins when people try to manipulate you, regardless of
their motivation. Mentors may use religious words to advance their own agenda,
or proclaim social goals to hide their desire for power. Such abuse may
entangle your personal integrity with unwanted philosophies,
dogma or political agendas.
My husband's (male) therapist
told me that I have to relieve my husband's sexual
frustration or it will be my fault if my husband has an affair.
The consequences? You may become increasingly angry, compliant or dependent.
You may believe and do things that you would previously avoid. You
may feel anxious if you do not follow their intuitions or orders. You
may feel depressed that you are violating someone's rules, or alienating
people. These are all signs of abuse.
My counselor told me I must forgive my
uncle, who raped me. When I asked him how
I should do that, he talked to
me with contempt and told me to go to church. Texas
Later, you may not trust any authority. You may be unable
to discern who supports you, and who does not. You may dismiss
all potential mentors as charlatans; all therapists as con-artists;
all counselors as crooks. You may feel victimized, impotent and angry
... much like many other victims of abuse.
If you are uncertain about a mental health treatment or
a spiritual path, check your perceptions. Independent,
external evidence is useful when trying to determine if something
is worth doing or believing. Get other opinions if a potential mentor
- that your symptoms are sure signs
of past events that you have forgotten
- that your objections are sure
signs that you need more frequent or more expensive treatment
We help people heal after abuse and incompetence. Do you want to find
ways to live your life, regain your self-esteem and express your love?
Therapist Damage & Spiritual Abuse
Online Help: Coaching, Counseling & Therapy
I thought you were just
another therapist - but you were not just. Not even. Not only.
Plagiarism is theft.
Copyright © Martyn Carruthers 2005-2018
All rights reserved.