when the therapist is charmed

A few posts ago, I talked a little about “charmers and con artists,” and encouraged any readers to use the free resources available on the attached links.   I’d really love for that information to get out there to every therapist, from coast to coast, country to country.

Today I received a package of information from another counseling agency.    One of their therapists had seen my new client and her husband some months ago for some marital counseling.   I had requested information on their time together to learn what the previous therapist had gleaned during those sessions.

If I hadn’t been experienced in working with domestic abuse victims, and hadn’t learned to recognize a narcissist when I saw one, I might have had the same response as this couple’s marital therapist.   She had been completely ‘charmed,’ seeing him as the victim, siding with him as he convinced her that his wife was the crazy one.  It only took one session for him to have her totally convinced that his wife was the one who needed to do all the changing in order to make this marriage work.   The last notes recounted that the wife was “working on being more understanding of her husband.”  Months later the wife came by herself to my office, convinced that she was losing her marbles.

Within five minutes of our first meeting, I had handed my new client a copy of “Charmers and Con Artists” from FOCUS Ministries.  She quietly read the list and in a whisper said to me, “He’s every one of these.”   I gave her a copy of the Domestic Violence Wheel and she identified her husband in every ‘spoke.’

it couldn’t be clearer to me that this woman was a battered wife and yet a fellow colleague from another counseling agency had missed this throughout the weeks they had been together for marital therapy.   If a professional thought she was the problem, and that SHE needed to change, no wonder this poor woman thought that she was about to fall off the edge of her emotional cliff.

If you know a counselor, print out these resources for them.  We are never too old to learn.

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11 thoughts on “when the therapist is charmed

  1. So much truth here and probably the main reason I refused to go to joint counseling with the estranged. I had absolutely no faith the counselor would be able to discern. Plus, I had way too much experience with conversations where he lied with a perfectly straight face, cried gallons of crocodile tears and had the audience swayed by my hard heart and lack of feeling.

  2. Years ago we went to various counselors. It was so discouraging because it was always directed toward what I needed to do. That’s why I stopped wanting to go when he mentioned it in the later years, but I had no idea then that this was typical of abuse. There are so many things that I’m reading now that happened in my situation but I never knew why…I was always in confusion.

    • Thanks for commenting, Liz. It saddens me that this was your experience, but it is good to learn that you no longer believe the lies that you were the problem. Narcissists feel they are always right, and it is impossible to have a healthy relationship with someone who constantly blames you for everything. There are lost years that will never be recovered, but each day will reveal new truths to you. I pray you will learn to see yourself as the treasure God created you to be.

  3. Thanks Morven, I’m moving in that direction, and love the encouragement that I’ve been getting from others who have gotten to the other side.

  4. Dear Morvan, while my ex partner and I were together we saw a marriage and family therapist not unlike your colleague. My ex partner was quite charming, but on the other hand, I could see that the therapist very much wanted to believe him. It came out in a session that he had assulted me (dislocating my shoulder), she openly blamed me for his physical violence, and showed him empathy and warmth, and insinuated that I was ’emotionally abusive’. One time when I saw her alone, I told her that I had been to the police and reported his violence, she became angry and threatened that if the case went to court she would have to tell the court that I was ‘volatile’. I was petrified. I didn’t go back and see her after this. The case did go to court and my ex partner was found guilty for four counts of assult against me, despite the fact that the therapist wrote a report at the request of my ex partner’s barrister, stating that I was volitile and that my ex partner was an excellent character and was a healthy relational qualities! The therapist went so far as to say that she would ‘recommend’ my ex parter as someone who had all the facualties necessary for deep and successful intimate relationship! Fancy stating that about someone who is facing 4 counts of assualt?…. the mind boggles! Some months after court I decided that I would make a notification to the australian health practitioner board regarding the actions of this therapist. It was very very difficult time for me. The therapist denied everything. I despaired that she was going to make me look crazy. I became incredibly depressed after I recieved her reponse outlining her denials. I pressed on with the amazing support of friends and family. I wrote a long a detailed response pointing out the incaccuracies in her denials. 15 months after I made the notification against this therapist, she was found guilty of proffessional misconduct and has to undergo two years of close supervision and her own weekly thearapy. If she does not change her practice she will be struck off and not allowed to practice as a counsellor. I want to encourage all abuse survivers to press on and strive for social justice as hard as they can. It is very difficult and the anxiey of following through this kind of action can at times be disabling. Yet it can be the very method in which you restore your sense of power again.

    • Dear Jade,

      Thank you so much for sharing your story! You took on Goliath with such courage! Sadly, I’ve had to encourage other clients to report past therapists for misconduct but very few do so for fear of being unbelieved. We can only hope this counselor will have received the education she needs.

      You are correct when you say that following through with confronting the giant can be the very method in which you restore your sense of power again. Proud of you, lady. All of your sisters are. I pray you will continue to heal, and find peace.

      It’s nice to have you respond on the blog, and hope to ‘hear’ from you again. Blessings, Morven

  5. Dear Morvan,

    thank you for your encouragement. I know that what I went through is not in vain and I hope my story touches someone who needs something to keep them going.

    It is terrifying to not be believed. At times the voices of those against me were so loud and convincing that I doubted that my mind was capable of anything rational. Just to get through the day, I would look into my sad eyes in the mirror and say to me, “I don’t belive the lies they say about you”. I had to constantly assure myself that I spoke truth, that I was the one who was living in reality and if the powers that be did not believe me, that didn’t make what happened to me or what I was saying any less true. The truth was still true, Speaking truth has a natural authority and it will accomplish much even if you are not believed!

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