Exploitation by Counselor
I was in long-term counseling with my minister from January 2005 through December 13, 2006. He held himself out to be trained and qualified to do such work. The work, which he referred to as therapy and analysis, led me to believe such things. During the last 6 months of the relationship, he began to invite me to project my sexual fantasies onto him and even asked, "What is the next level for this relationship, beyond sexuality?" I allowed the comments for about 6 months until I finally confronted him. He denied ever saying those things, even though he had recorded the sessions with a digital voice recorder.
I found out in December of 2006 that he did not have a counseling license, and was actually in school getting his Masters in counseling (he is about to enter into the field.) He has since destroyed the voice recordings, unlawfully diagnosed me as Borderline and Bipolar (which I'm not) and I am now filing a civil suit against him for emotional damages that occurred because of his negligence. This has been very hurtful for me. It's almost been a year and I'm still struggling with it. I have no health insurance to get further counselling, and even if I did, I am scared to go back into a sacred space.
How can someone recover from being emotionally exploited by a counselor who is manipulative and controlling? How can a sense of peace be attained? And, most importantly, how can one make better choices when searching for a qualified counselor?
The very fact that this man gave you so-called therapy for so long proves him to be incompetent. Psychological research over the past 50 years has generated very effective techniques for empowering people to make changes in much less time than this. Only the very worst effects of chronic childhood abuse are likely to take years.
I would think that a betrayal by a therapist, especially one who claims to be a representative of God, would be about the worst you could experience. You have every right to pursue your complaints, and even a duty. We don't want to let him loose on other targets. I am afraid there are predators in every field. The ministry, and people in the helping professions, are no exception. However, this does not mean that the next person is likely to be of the same kind. Anyone can call himself a counselor and get away with it. However, professions like psychology and social work have registration requirements, with a registration board and a professional body to oversee ethical conduct. This does not eliminate the risk, but does control it.
I don't know what the laws are in Tennessee, but in some places, the disciplinary process may provide funds for you to receive therapy to allow you to recover from the effects of this betrayal. However, even if you have to pay for it yourself, I feel you should seek out a competent professional with more than a Mickey Mouse diploma in counseling. Seek out a psychologist with at least the minimum qualifications for registration in your state. Don't be afraid to ask questions before the first session.
You have been through a very nasty experience. You ended up taking power in your hands, and are now proceeding with courage. So, is there a silver lining in this cloud for you? Think about the ways you have grown, and become a better person because of this episode in your life. You will heal because you have gained power. You will be less gullible, and for a while less trusting, but I am sure your intuitive judgment of people will have improved too.
Have a good life,
This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.For more information visit: http://anxietyanddepression-help.com