Questioning therapist's intentions-thoughts pls

hearts and roses

Mind Reader
I need help with this. The other night, before bringing difficult child down to meet and go live with her biodad, we had a counseling meeting (h's first time with this one). I like this counselor, difficult child connects with her and she seems to want to help difficult child. However, when we first met with therapist, I explained that what we were looking for was more of life coaching type of therapy - someone who would help difficult child find her path and stay on track, figure out what her strengths are and work with that. The counselor agreed and was on board with this plan. It became apparent that difficult child first had to deal with a couple of issues - primarily with my H and her distorted view of mine and her father's divorce. Unfortunately, I have to give some history.

First: My divorce took place in 1991, difficult child was 2 when exh and I separated. My current H was a family friend then and always a part of the family so my girls knew him...after moving away from the area when difficult child was 4, H followed us about a year later and another year later we married, so difficult child was 6 when I remarried. For some reason, difficult child has it in her head that H broke up my marriage to her father and she's carrying a lot of resentment over it. However, this resentment apparently had lain dorment and *suddenly*, just as she's pulling crap all over the place and we're (H included) calling her on it, she claims to hate H. Hate him, after years of loving him and having a normal father/daughter relationship with him. I personally feel that if he were her biodad, she'd hate him right now anyway for being stricter with her and calling her on her lies.

Second: her sexual assault occurred 2 years ago this past May. At that time she was already seeing a counselor but decided to stop seeing HIM because she claims he got a hard on while she was describing the assault. I doubt this highly, but I was not there, so I can't say for certain. So, fine, we found a new therapist and it is my opinion that once this therapist was able to scratch the surface with difficult child, difficult child refused to see her anymore. Then we got another therapist and this one was so lame but we couldn't find any nearby so we were holding out for difficult child's 18th so we could get a new one that had more experience with assault victims - NOT that difficult child wanted to talk. Quite the opposite.

Flash forward to now. Her DR won't prescribe her medications unless she's in counseling so we found this really good therapist and difficult child likes her. Up until this time, difficult child has told me that although she occasionally has a nightmare about the assault she feels that it's behind her.

So, she's seen this therapist for about 8-9 times and we met with her the other night and the entire time this therapist is making reference to difficult child having this major hurtle to get over before she can move on and become happy. She spoke about difficult child as if she was this totally messed up individual who will need intensive therapy forever because of the 1) divorce and 2) the assault.

I'm sorry, but I've run the gamit with counselors and I am sooooo tired of them making it seem as if these are things that will ruin anyone's lives. I survived an unhappy childhood, filled with sexual abuse. I was sexually assaulted as well and between counseling and MATURING I was able to get past it and get on with my life. I don't think you ever completely let it go of traumas, but you find a way to not allow those bad things to overcome your life and control who you are - they do not have to define you.

I just think that you get to a certain point and you have to realize that bad things happen to nice people but you cannot allow those bad things to ruin your life. I think that difficult child has had it drummed into her head that because of the assault and because she comes from a family of divorce that she has this GIANT obstacle to overcome. When do we stop making up excuses for her crappy behaviors and say, "Hey, listen, what happened may have stunk, but you know, you survived it, you're stronger for it, you're a wonderful human with a lot of potential and I think that you can put this behind you and focus on your future now - what do you think?"

H and I feel like the counselor is almost creating a situation where difficult child will remain mired in her own self pity and depression rather than shrugging some of this crap off and moving on with her life. I don't necessarily feel that any of us has to sit around and dredge of ancient history to move beyond it and get a life!

I'm wondering what happened to our conversation with the counselor about difficult child trying to learn how to be more positive about life, moving on from her past, making better choices and finding her path. I feel like it was all blown smoke! I am wondering if difficult child has detracted from the present situation by throwing the monkey wrench from her past into the ring. I mean, difficult child has some experience with tdocs and I can see how she would do that.

on the other hand, I knwo she may still have issues to work through...but I don't think she needs to dredge through all the muck of her life to do that. I don't know what to think. I have to make an appointment for Sept 24th this morning for when difficult child is up here visiting and I am annoyed that the focus of the meetings has changed back to the same old crap.

Anyone else feel like this at times?? Where instead of helping, the counseling keeps you back?


Well-Known Member
You know, because I have bipolar and need medications, I too have been forced to see dozens of therapists. I swear, I took what was ok from them and filed the rest away. My favorite and only type of therapy I felt worked was cognitive behavioral therapy because it is reality based. When I talked to counselors who dredged up my past and made me bawl, I felt worse and ended up feeling like a victim who'd been wronged. Maybe you can try CBT with your daughter. It REALLY helps helps you see the world in a whole new light. If you buy the book "Feeling Good" by Dr. David Burns, you can see what it's like. I feel for you and your daughter. I'm not a big fan of therapists, unless they use CBT methods, but everyone has differing opinions.

hearts and roses

Mind Reader
My favorite and only type of therapy I felt worked was cognitive behavioral therapy because it is reality based. When I talked to counselors who dredged up my past and made me bawl, I felt worse and ended up feeling like a victim who'd been wronged. Maybe you can try CBT with your daughter. It REALLY helps helps you see the world in a whole new light. If you buy the book "Feeling Good" by Dr. David Burns, you can see what it's like. I feel for you and your daughter. I'm not a big fan of therapists, unless they use CBT methods, but everyone has differing opinions.

YES! The ONE counselor who was really beginning to scratch the surface used CBT and I liked her a lot. She wasn't warm and fuzzy but she was good. She dropped difficult child from her practice because difficult child wasn't working on things. And because she dropped difficult child, then difficult child's psychiatrist also dropped her because the requisite to her giving the medications was that difficult child would see the therapist. Ugh - it was ugly for a while there. Anyway, difficult child won't see a CBT because there is "too much work involved". Thanks for your input.
Copper (my older daughter) saw a counselor from age 8 - 12. Same thing. "Oooh, poor Copper. Poor Copper had a rough life. Poor Copper will never get over her father being a moron. Poor Copper has a bully for a mom."

She CODDLED the heck out of her. She would go to her appointments, cry for an hour, and come home.

We got her a new therapist.


Well, I think that says it all, really--your difficult child won't see a CBT because there is "too much work involved." She doesn't want to work, doesn't want to change. My dtr was a lot like yours I think (I know I've said that before!) She loved the attention she received in therapy and got something out of people having sympathy for her because of losing her dad and because of being raped (though I don't know if that even happened--have my doubts). I, too, think that some of her therapists inadvertently gave her the message that her problems were insurmountable or that she couldn't be "normal." She did have an excellent therapist at her Residential Treatment Center (RTC) who mostly did DBT and that allowed her to be able to interpret things differently, to see that her viewpoint could be wrong or at least that not everything was black and white.

I don't like her boyfriend but I think he did help in some ways--he encouraged her to see herself as a normal person who could do normal things. She now leads a pretty normal life--has a job, takes care of herself, has an apt. with boyfriend, has a stable relationship with him even. The therapist she had before she went to her Residential Treatment Center (RTC) was really awful but difficult child liked her a lot. This therapist thought difficult child probably would need assistance all her life. She encouraged our enabling instead of encouraging difficult child to become independent. difficult child really had her snowed--I think she thought she was really helping. difficult child seemed to enjoy rebelling against her almost as much as rebelling against us. She would get the therapist so upset that she'd be yelling at her just like a parent.

Anyway, I think your nagging feeling about all this is probably right. My other difficult child (not really a difficult child, I should change her status) is also in therapy but she really works hard and is sincere about wanting to function in a healthy way. In her case, she does need to confront what happened to her in the past because her method of coping was to dissociate and that is no longer necessary for her. Her therapist says she needs to be able to tell her story before she can relegate it to the past. But he is an excellent therapist and it isn't just "talk" therapy--he is actually doing concrete things to help her. There seem to be actual goals they are working on. My real difficult child's bad therapist always talked about what they were going to do but never did anything but talk.

Good luck, Jo!



Well-Known Member
Im probably not the best person to ask this to.

My life has been the pits growing up. My mother was horribly abusive and I have had several sexual assaults. It has forever changed my life and I have never recovered. Who knows who or what I would be today if not for those events.

Do I dwell on them? To some extent. I am getting better about it.

DBT or CBT could work. I dont think just not thinking about it or pulling oneself up by the bootstraps does work.


CBT is a very good therapeutic tool, but if difficult child isn't going to do the work it doesn't matter.

For a long time, I never felt like I got anything out of therapy. It's incredibly difficult for me to talk about things and I was very good at controlling the session. It wasn't intentional; it was just my way of redirecting the therapist to something "safe" to talk about. However, I didn't want to be coddled and would leave a therapist who tried to do the "poor you" routine. I didn't buy it.

I started to see a new therapist recently because of everything going on in my life and she is completely different. She's trained in CBT and EMDR, among others, but we haven't even gotten to that, yet. I was kind of ambivalent about going...not really expecting to gain much, but feeling so overwhelmed by everything that I felt like I needed to at least try to talk to someone. At the second appointment, we're talking about things - just like I had always done in the past - and she stops me and says, "What is it that you are wanting from me?" Seems like such a simple question, but not one I had ever been asked by a therapist before and I really didn't know how to answer. She then proceeded to tell me that she is there to empower me which is why she put the ball back in my court. Her take on things is more along the lines of, "Yeah. What you've been through stinks. So, what do you need to do in order to deal with it?" NOT, "Oh, you poor thing!" which is sooo counter-productive.

I really like her.

If difficult child's therapist can't see through difficult child, it's time to find another.


Mom? What's a difficult child?
Jo- I agree with you. While I don't mind talking about the stuff that happened to me when I was younger, I feel it doesn't give me an excuse for any of my actions. It formed who I am but it doesn't cripple me. I am only stronger because of what I went through.

We need to all learn, and teach our kids to take the good and the positive lessons from every experience and let go of the rest. You can revisit it but it doesn't need to drag you down. She doesn't need to wallow in it. THere comes a point when you have to say it is time to start living, what is next? What can I take from all of this and move forward?

She can teach others how to be a stronger woman one day...

Yeah sometimes you feel like screaming just get over it... it is over!!! But every person proccesses things differently and I need to remember that also at times...

hearts and roses

Mind Reader
{{{Janet}}} If my difficult child shared a story or past similar to yours I would likely be a lot more sympathetic. And also, if she at least was interested in actually doing the work necessary to move past the horrible incidents she leans on, I would again be more sympathetic.

The fact of the matter is that difficult child grew up in a very loving, supportive and nurturing home...due in large part because I divorced her father and remarried.

This is not to say that everything was always rosy (we had H's alcoholism/sobriety to deal with along the way as well as difficult child's behaviors), but it was far from traumatic. Also, leading up to the assault, difficult child was engaging in very risky/risque behaviors and despite knowing better, she chose to pursue a friendship with her assailant, which ultimately led to her assault. Now, granted, she may have used poor judegment in conversing and leaving town with a stranger, but she certainly is not at fault for the actual assault. And she was only 15 and he was very good at what he was doing.

I think if difficult child had suffered a string of traumatic events, it would be very different. However, I think that difficult child is mostly using her difficult child status along with typical teen self centeredness to be free to do what she wants, when she wants, with whom she wants, etc., all without a care for how it effects those around her. And I think she playing the therapist like a violin. I truly hesitate to make that appointment, but I will if for no other reason than to call difficult child on her behavior in front of the counselor.

Thanks everyone for your input - at least I know I'm not going crazy. Well, sorta.


Well-Known Member
This thread reminded me of a therapist who saw my daughter when she had been on parole twice, used every drug imaginable, and regularly climbed out of her window to run around at night. The therapist symapthized with her a lot and told her that I should trust her more and give her more freedom to be herself.
You really have to be careful with who you take these kids to see.
Needless to say, I never took her back, but difficult child threw this therapist's idiotic advice in my face long after that.


Active Member
I think this therapist has already done a lot of damage. NOBODY has a perfect childhood. If we did, we'd never cope with adulthood. Think about it.

Your instincts are correct. difficult child has to learn to move on. It's definitely moving on time. Has been for some time.

However, she is very angry. Doesn't know who to be angry at, she's been angry for years. Maybe something someone has said at some stage, perhaps overly sympathising with her for her father not being around, has built up this fantasy in her head that she's supposed to be messed up, which gives her permission to be messed up. It's a way of opting out, of not having to behave or grow up because all the experts tell her she doesn't have to, she can cuddle in their cocoon.

I suspect right now she wants to move on, but needs a no-nonsense therapist to hep her do this, not someone who will continue this really bad enabling.

The assault - it does sound like she's moving on. However, it will have left a permanent mark - she has to accept that. And it is amazing what a deep scar it can leave, even when we think it's deal with.

When easy child was assaulted at the age of 5, she didn't tell me for two years and then broke down in a flood of tears, convinced t hat telling me had signed my death warrant (the little charmer had threatened her that if she told, his dad would come round to our place and run me over with his lawnmower). easy child's counselling was far less for the assault and much more for the 2 years of anxiety and panic it caused her. I could have throttled that kid (and his father) if I ever was able to track them down.
easy child no longer remembers the assault, except intellectually. She had blocked it out by the time she was 9. Her counsellor was totally ineffective and would tell me NOTHING - I'm still angry about that. So, in hindsight, is easy child, because now she needs details and hasn't got any. I strongly suspect the bulk of the counselling was 'nurturing' and working on her to not talk about it, which is exactly what she did. She would refuse to talk. As a result, it's been buried so deep it still is a problem, because I can see a lot of unhealthy choices in her life. She has only ever had the one boyfriend with whom she is now living. The relationship has been stormy, with her anxiety attacks which would have put off any less determined young man. It was a long-distance relationship (safer, sexually, when he's on the end of a phone and not in the bedroom) and they both now have a major weight problem which I think won't be fixed until she remembers the assault and deals with it - poor chance now. I have seen so many survivors of childhood abuse, who have big weight issues. I'm sure at some level, it is deliberate - an attempt to make themselves so unattractive that they will never be attacked again.

Back to your daughter - you gave some interesting history. She was a problem before the assault. You already had her in counselling. She was behaving in a sexually provocative way. Are you sure this was the first assault? Just checking. Children of separated mothers are especially vulnerable, often in ways you would never suspect.
And her reaction to telling him about the assault - VERY interesting. Again, I sense anger. Picture it - he says, "tell me what happened," and out of anger and perhaps bravado, she tells it in as graphic and salacious manner as possible, hoping to provoke a reaction. It is highly likely she got upset because he did NOT react. She made the accusation partly because she totally embarrassed herself (her self-esteem was probably rock-bottom and she dug an even deeper hole and dragged herself in there) and now he has seen too much, he knows her too well and she can never hide anything from him again - and she needs to. She feels she must always keep part of herself hidden because it is too awful, she can't even stand it herself.

And now she is in a nasty pattern - she can refuse to cooperate, or say she doesn't like someone, and the nasty probing will stop and she can continue to have permission to be the bad girl, the wounded girl.

She needs to face up to this herself. I don't know how this can be done. But ANY therapist enabling this has got to go.

I would talk to the therapist first, ask what happened to our first talk, why are you now making things worse. But your daughter needs CBT. As did mine. And if it's too much work - sounds like it's getting through. But if she begins to say, "it's too difficult," then I do think the therapist could ease back, just a little. She may not be ready to be pushed too far, too fast. But even ANY progress towards moving on and taking this stuff on board in a more balanced way - has got to be improvement.

Because as I said before, if we reached adulthood with no traumas, no past hurts, then how would we ever cope? It would all hit us at once and we just wouldn't survive. Hurts need to be dealt with, managed and we need to learn our own coping skills. We shouldn't just pretend everything's fine, but neither should we use our problems as a handy excuse to opt out of any future responsibility for ourselves and our life. We have a life to be lived - we should work to putting this rubbish where it belongs - in the bin. Right now, she's letting it clog her life so much she can't see the way through the mess. And as you said, it's not that big a mess, she can do it. With the right therapist, not one who is saying, "Just leave it on the floor, you don't have to ever leave this room anyway."

Good luck. Wear your steel-capped boots for the next appointment.