The Massive Thing…

Last time I posted here I alluded to a ‘massive thing’ that Anita had told me towards the end of our first session back after the break. The ‘thing’ had really helped me feel loads better about myself and about how I had experienced the therapy (and end of it!) with Em.

Before this revelation I had been worrying about being too much and Anita being fed up of me – even though she’d done absolutely nothing to indicate this. During the break I was panicked that she would come back from the holiday and like Em (after our Christmas break 2019) everything would go down the toilet and we’d end up terminating because I was ‘too much’. I worried that Anita would have had a break from me and realise that working with me is a massive drain and she’d want to get away from my smothering her or sucking the lifeblood out of her ‘like a tick’.

I still can’t believe Em used this analogy – apparently this GIF is my child parts…

Rational Adult knows I’ve actually got more chance of winning the lottery than Anita doing this to me (my god that’s a big statement on trust isn’t it?!) but the young parts who have been so badly hurt by the way Em ended things still worry that something bad will happen and they need a lot of reassurance…which btw Anita is always happy to give.

I’d spent the entire session cuddled into Anita and it was so grounding and soothing. However, I find this sense of safety comes (and goes) in waves and even when I am perfectly safe my brain and body will wander and flip into panic. This is usually when another part will make its fears and doubts known. It must be like Groundhog Day for Anita repeatedly reassuring the various young parts that we are ‘still ok’ and she’s ‘not going anywhere’ but she doesn’t seem to get frustrated or annoyed.

When the little one asked “Are you fed up with me?” She emphatically told me that this was not the case at all, that I was “easy to love”, and that I am not hard work or a problem which is what I was made to feel with Em. It was lovely to hear. Anita was quiet for a moment, I guess pondering whether she was going to tell me what came next.

Anita has been nothing but supportive of me since coming to her and has never once made me feel like what happened with Em was my fault. She has been clear that what happened was harmful and has done her very best to help me get over the trauma of it and validated my experience saying that both her and her supervisor believe I have grounds to make a complaint to her governing body.

In the back of my mind, though, there’s always been a little bit of me that wonders whether it was me, you know? Like maybe if I’d just done x, or said y, or not got so upset when she called me a ‘tick’…perhaps it’s me and my trauma that did this and maybe Em is a good therapist and I’m the useless client that can’t heal and is resistant. Maybe I overreacted. Maybe she handled things as they should have been handled… ugh.

Last year when Em and I terminated I think I very loosely mentioned ‘something I have learnt about her that might explain why she was not firing on all cylinders and could have impacted her’ but went no further with it at the time here. But given I am talking about ‘massive things’ I think I’ll say what that was about- this is anonymous and so it won’t impact her but I think it’s important that people know that this kind of thing happens…and us clients usually have no idea about it.

Last year my wife was working closely with a Clinical Psychologist in the NHS in our area as part of a multidisciplinary working team supporting a client. She’d become quite friendly with this CP and had got to chatting about their own various lives over lunches – you know, like you do with friends. My wife was talking about me (thanks wife!) and mentioned that I had been in therapy for a really long time but seemed to be really unhappy and she felt almost like therapy wasn’t helping, just hurting me. The CP said something along the lines of ‘people with complex trauma can need years of therapy and this is really common’ trying to put my wife’s mind at rest, I think. My wife then said something like “Her and Em have been working together on and off since 2012 – they met in x (where the CP works)”.

Apparently at this the CPs face dropped and she looked really concerned. My wife asked what was wrong. And that’s when the CP said, “I don’t know what to say. I really, really shouldn’t be telling you this, but it’s your wife and you say she’s in a really bad place with her therapist. Is that ‘Em X’ she works with?” My wife confirmed it was.

The CP then told her that other therapists in the NHS MH trust had raised concerns about Em and she had been ‘asked to leave’. Now we all know how underfunded and short-staffed NHS mental health services are, don’t we? I mean it took three years on a waiting list for me to get psychotherapy on the NHS. So to give a senior CP her marching orders is quite something.

Em wasn’t ‘sacked’ the NHS rarely do this. They just move the problems around. I know Em is now working in an MH trust in a neighbouring county from some Google sleuth work at the time. Of course, I know now that all of this was going on in the six months before we terminated. I imagine the stress that would have put her under would have been immense. It’s not justifying what happened, but it does give me and insight into her as well as how other professionals perceive her practice.

I feel sorry for all the clients that have suffered – probably like me. I guess in the NHS it’s not quite so bad because therapy is time-limited and so perhaps the damage is not quite so massive. The 16 months work I did with her in the NHS did enough to awaken all my attachment shit and lead me deep back into anorexia…which in hindsight clearly shows that things weren’t great!  

Anyway, like I said, that information helped me a bit at the time of termination to see that maybe it wasn’t ALL my fault. Even with that, though, it’s hard to make it stick inside. Anita told me, last week, that she had been speaking to a friend/colleague (who she really rates and admires) recently who knows Em and her husband (also a therapist) well from living and working in the same town and crossing paths regularly in various working capacities. Apparently, this therapist is really horrified by how both Em and her husband conduct themselves and said that she would never in a million years refer a client to either of them because ‘they are horrible people’. She’s also certain that Em and her husband work as each other’s clinical supervisors……like what could possibly go wrong there?! No conflict of interest whatsoever, right?!

I know it sounds really gossipy, and probably not very professional for A and her friend to have that conversation in the first place – but I am sure people do it. Even in my line of work there are people I would recommend and those I DEFINITELY wouldn’t. Therapists know by reputation, through personal interactions, and through people like us who come through their door having experienced harm who they rate and who they wouldn’t.

I am glad Anita told me about this conversation – whether she was right to do it or not – because it really validated my experience again of what happened with Em not being my fault. I know Anita believes me when I tell her the things I do about how things were with Em, but to have this experience of Em corroborated by not just Anita’s friend but also the CP in the NHS might just now really start to help me let that self-hating, self-blaming, shaming narrative go.

I loved Em (and still do love her) but she really did a lot of damage and it wasn’t (all) my fault…

14 thoughts on “The Massive Thing…

  1. Lucy King July 4, 2021 / 3:18 pm

    Ahhh RB this is huge! Such important information to pad out the situation and as Mark would say ‘give it a shelf to put on!’ (He says this in reference to me having no shelf to put the Anna stuff on and therefore making it harder to process). I so glad you know all this! It’s actually kinda terrifying though that ‘professionals’ are out there like that, people know about them and yet no ones getting them struck off!??

    Liked by 1 person

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum July 4, 2021 / 4:07 pm

      Totally. It makes me angry too. Like why is the burden of responsibility always pushed onto the client? Surely the NHS should be doing more! Ugh. Still, I’m glad I know this and I’m so glad I’m away from her … most of the time. I just wish we could have got a decent ending. I’m still so upset by how it ended. I get what you mean about not having a shelf. 🙁

      Liked by 1 person

  2. behindapaintedsmile30 July 4, 2021 / 4:24 pm

    I don’t think the issue with the NHS impacted her performance with you because Em seems way too arrogant to care. It proves that she is a terrible therapist though. It says a lot when colleagues in the NHS don’t back each other! I think the only way to get struck off is from a patient complaint. It proves that a degree in psychology is not enough to create a good therapist because a good bedside manner cannot be taught. It seems crazy to have professional associations who don’t regulate their members.
    It’s sad that it had to go as far a nearly destroying you, but it’s the kind of thing you had to believe before you felt able to leave. It also sucks that you gave Em a significant amount of money for nothing too. 😕

    Liked by 2 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum July 4, 2021 / 5:11 pm

      I know… yes to all of that..the money, the time, the emotional vulnerability… and the outcome was just more damage. I guess I learnt a shit tonne about myself whilst in that therapy but it would have been nice to learn it without being triggered so much and retraumatising my system. Definitely says a lot when nhs colleagues throw each other under the bus. It’s rare. And you’re right- I guess the arrogance is clearly there because if she’d been truly impacted by what happened with nhs she might have looked inward and sought decent supervision. Instead she doubled down and held her position of ‘she’s right’. Hope you’re doing ok- I’ve missed quite a lot of posts lately just trying to keep head above water. Thinking of you x


  3. Q July 4, 2021 / 6:30 pm

    Argh, that you had yo suffer so terribly at the hands of a “horrible person,” that the system did not protect you! Do unfair! But I am glad Anita told you and don’t find it at all unprofessional. Her first professional duty is to YOU, and she really wants you to understand that you were harmed by Em’s bad professional practice. It had nothing yo do with you at all. 💜

    Liked by 2 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum July 4, 2021 / 7:57 pm

      Thanks Q. Yeah, from the beginning A has tried so hard to assure me that it’s not me and that it never has been me. It’s a hard narrative to rework but little by little I’m hearing it. Now, it’s really more about healing the damage that was caused but isn’t/wasn’t my fault. It’s a slow process for sure!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Clara July 4, 2021 / 7:46 pm

    I’m so glad Anita told you, and I hope it helps you. Em was and is dangerous. Xx

    Liked by 2 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum July 4, 2021 / 8:01 pm

      Thanks Clara. Yeah, I’m glad she told me too. I feel like it’s more valid somehow – like it’s not just my word against Em’s but that other professionals who have worked with her and know her don’t think highly of her says a lot. It’s sad though because the loyalty I felt and to a degree still feel makes me want to protect her, say ‘it wasn’t that bad, she probably didn’t mean to…’ but it was that bad and she knew exactly what she was doing, and how it hurt me. 😞


  5. LovingSummer July 4, 2021 / 10:57 pm

    How lovely to have your traumatic experience in therapy backed up by people who have never met you. I hope it will help add to your healing and for what it’s worth, I love it you were told! I think that’s the right thing to have done for you. It’s really promoting the equality of the relationship as much as is possible between client and therapist, and I like that. It’s shows you’ve been trusted with that information too, which is nice. Well done you for instinctively knowing that it can’t continue and following that inner voice urging you to call it a day, however agonising it felt at the time. So glad it’s paid off for you the way it has ♥️

    Liked by 1 person

  6. SunsetCherryBlossom July 5, 2021 / 11:18 am

    Hi RBCG gosh this is all huge. But what a difference it all makes. Once you have had time to process all of this I hope that you can really begin to believe that “its not you, it’s her”. You were never “too much”. (I wonder if we all think that, I know I do). But this proves to you that you were not. She had the problem, and you are free to be exactly as you are, with the wonderful Anita. I have a similar situation in my job, knowing that a colleague is not fit for purpose and is in fact harmful and abusive with it, but it’s impossible to warn others without appearing gossipy, malicious or even legally slanderous…not sure what the solution is! Take care and hugs X

    Liked by 1 person

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum July 5, 2021 / 2:36 pm

      It’s funny because on one hand it does feel huge and validating but on the other I still feel like it’s me… I guess we’re programmed that way! Anita is so lovely with me. I (teen parts) have been giving her one hell of a time this last few sessions. I’m exhausted from it all. Why do our systems do this???! I mean, I know why but … ugh!! I don’t know what the answer is when you know a colleague is not good. Is there a manager you could approach with direct evidence – you say they’re abusive and so that’s clearly not ok. It’s so tricky. X


      • SunsetCherryBlossom July 5, 2021 / 4:58 pm

        Thanks RBCG, without revealing too much, no unfortunately there is nothing much we can do. Everything that can be done, has been done.
        Though word is gradually filtering around!
        I know how it feels though, when you feel it’s your fault and not theirs – holding my hand up here too with said colleague. But in time, with enough reinforcement from the right people you (and I) will gradually believe it more and more. And honestly I do believe Anita is good enough to cope with everything you throw her way!


  7. Mac July 5, 2021 / 7:17 pm

    Wow! I can’t believe Em is thought of that way by her coworkers. And the NHS needs to find a better method to track these horrible therapists that cause so much damage to clients. I pay so much money but my T is in private practice and not affiliated with the healthcare system at all anymore (he retired from the hospital) but I really think it’s worth it. Ugh, it just makes me dislike Em so much more for what she put you through. I’m so glad you have A on your side….and I totally get the Groundhog Day analogy…xx

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Sara July 6, 2021 / 2:41 am

    This really is massive…and validating. I’m just sorry that you were in the hands of this horrible person for as long as you were. What a relief to have the healing, nurturing, validating support from Anita now. 💕


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