After the breakup of my relationship, tons of financial stressors from a lack of consistent income, challenges on my job that caused me to look for a new one, getting hired at a new job and being told I was not a good fit 6 weeks later and terminated from the position, an ill grandparent that lived in another state who died 4 months later, among other things-I needed to vent, get things off of my chest, and try to regain some normalcy in my life. I was already not sleeping or when I did fall asleep, I was restless. I had 300 and 400 fasting blood sugars daily-if you know anything about diabetes, then you know this is not good at all. It is a wonder I did not have to be taken or admitted to a hospital, but God kept me and I am thankful! Nevertheless, it was a difficult time in my life and being a counselor myself, I felt that therapy would be a good support for me in addition to praying and (at that time exercising). It is funny even with the symptoms I was displaying at that time(crying all of the time and/or yelling at people for no obvious reason, apathetic about life in general and feeling like a failure especially after I lost my “new” job, I was not aware that I was depressed. I guess it is true what they say, sometimes it is easier to recognize the problem in someone else’s life than it is to recognize it in your own. What I did know is that I needed help and I called my insurance company to find a counselor close to where I lived and worked. I asked if she could see me that evening and she did!
Initially, it started out ok. I told her about my past as well as the reason I currently wanted to go to counseling. So how did therapy with her fail me? One session she told me that I should have sex to get rid of stress. Now, I do know that stress can be relieved that way, but I am a Christian (she said she was one too) and a minister…last I read, we are not supposed to engage in such prior to marriage. I may not do everything right all of the time, but I do try my best to live a holy lifestyle so telling me to engage in premarital sex when you clearly know I believe fornication is wrong was a definite no-no!
I applied for a job that asked if I had specific questions about some mental health diagnosis and she told me to lie on the application! That caused me stress because I wanted and needed the job but at the same time, did not want to lie! I had not been diagnosed with depression at the time I had to complete the application so I was able not lie, but what type of therapist would encourage you to lie?
She told me that I was not a counselor because I did not have my counseling license yet, which I might add, was by my choice. When I graduated in the 90’s you did not necessarily need a license to practice. My current job only requires a Master’s degree at this time. In fact there were no LGCP (Licensed Graduate Professional Counselors) then, there were just LCPC (Licensed Clinical Professional Counselors). You did your hours, took the test and if passed you became licensed. This was not my priority. I became an ordained minister the same year I received my graduate degree in counseling. Ministry was always more of a focus than counseling so I did not focus on the license. I realize how it can be beneficial now, but my desire to advocate and speak about mental health issues does not require me to have a license. I have been in this field for about 18 years and have experience counseling family, group, and individuals raging from toddler to elderly. The counselor I was seeing had not worked as a counselor anywhere close to the almost 2 decades of experience that I had. There are some interns I know that had better counseling skills than she did. Please don’t try to tell me what I am based on a piece of paper.
During that time I saw her she also misdiagnosed me with Dysthymia now Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD). I literally had to take my copy of the DSM-V and show her why her diagnosis was incorrect but by that time she had already reported the wrong diagnosis to the insurance company. I think it was this incident that made me want to become more of an advocate and not focus on being a counselor per se. I think at that time because of the different life stressors I should have been diagnosed with adjustment disorder with depressed mood. We used my entire session talking about the diagnosis and why it was not correct.
She was not organized and double booked a session. I pulled up in time for me to go inside and she came outside and told me not to be upset (which I was). I did need to talk that day but that did not happen because she was seeing another client at that same time! At any rate, I called her to let her know that I decided to stop therapy. I was doing well and taking a class I needed to take in case I changed my mind about licensure. She urged me to go back to school to get my license even though that was not what I wanted to do at that time. That counselor was not a good fit for me, but I did not want to start all over again at that time telling someone else what I was dealing with in my life so I stuck it out until I was better. Being a counselor, I know how to treat my clients and I know how I wanted to be treated. I should have not been challenged in that way, urged to do things that go against my religious beliefs, or “forced” to follow a career path that I did not want to follow at that time. We had some good moments too, I did enjoy her listening, her encouraging me to take the psychotherapy class using the DSM-V (I received an A) and she did not charge me for some sessions since I was not working and my insurance was going to be up soon. I am grateful for every lesion I learned and it just taught me even more ways I do not want to treat my clients. With that being said, I do want to take a minute to encourage you not to give up on therapy. If one therapist fails or does not work out for you, go to another one. Do you research again and find one that works for you just like you would seek another medical doctor if you had one that did not work for you. With that being said, I did start to see another therapist who is also a Christian and on occasion, see her to this day. Therapy really can help with the healing process, but every therapist is not for everyone, license or not! I am grateful for the Affordable Care Act that allows me to see my therapist when I need to without a copay. So yes, therapy failed me once, but I will not let it fail me again.