When you want to trust the therapist

When you want to trust the therapist

Even today I cannot recall his last name.  He went by some nickname, Art or Andy.  He was the first therapist in our family’s lives.  Just knowing we were “seeing a therapist” felt so strange.  But I was desperate to find someone to help my child.

A colleague had said he was “good with kids.”  I needed to trust this man.

That school day afternoon, the memory still so uncomfortably fresh, I remember sitting in his waiting room with my son beside me, staring at the floor waiting his turn for…?  For what?   A boy who barely said anything would open up to a man he’d never met?  Share secrets that he wouldn’t share with me?

After a few months of bi-weekly sessions, Jacob, then a high school senior, drinking, smoking and ingesting who knows what, turned to me and said, “Mom, if I let you see him and he tells you I’m okay, will you leave me alone?”

So I sat in Art’s office and heard these words:  “Your son is fine.  I told him just to smoke a little less.”’

Years later, after Jacob’s addiction worsened, after days and nights of anguish, fear, isolation, shame and despair,  I recalled Art’s words.   His “advice” not only stunned me then, but also caused my mistrust in every therapist since.

It took several years, and a string of smart, experienced and caring counselors for me to regain  belief in professionals who aided Jacob’s recovery – and my own.  I am grateful I found them.

Like recovery itself, trust takes time.


14 Replies to “When you want to trust the therapist”

  1. Thx for your word picture. Update on my son Geoff: completed 3 weeks at Pathways on Thursday, then went directly to “sober house” in Hillsmere. Son Jeremy came down from Boston and worked together to ready Dick’s house for sale. Geoff has new “girlfriend,” who was in his high school class and serendipitously re-met at Trader Joe’s where they discovered a mutual love of cats (each has two) and cooking (she had a thriving catering business while living in Denver/how works for Constellation Properties in Baltimore). She is onboard with Alanon, etc. Hope all is well with you and your family. Miss you….love, ML

    1. M, thanks for checking in with me. That’s encouraging news about Geoff – and the support from his girlfriend is all good, too.
      Take it one day at a time, dear friend.
      Recovery is slow..but you know that.
      Celebrate today!

      Love to you

  2. I was also stunned by the “your child is fine” response. I could never wrap my brain around it. The words denied everything I saw happening around me. I never trusted that particular therapist again. I did listen to the one who told me to go to Al Anon and take care of me. Best advice ever! Hugs and love to you and yours…

    1. Terry, agree. It’s the therapist who sent me to Al Anon whom I will remember.
      Thanks for your kind note.

  3. Lisa,

    This is such an important issue, the quality of a therapist. Just like there are excellent, good, ok and clueless MDs and excellent, good, ok and clueless attorneys, there are excellent, good, ok and clueless therapists.
    Unfortunately, because it’s often so hard to take the first step of actually making the appointment and going to see a therapist, if a person’s not lucky their first try, it can sour them on trying to find someone better. Good for you for not giving up for Jake or yourself! It’s a valuable lesson that we all need to remember.
    Eight years ago, when I first developed my cardiac condition, I went to six different board certified cardiologists, including a bigwig at George Washington Univ in DC, and none of them gave me a correct diagnosis. My own research eventually led me to ask the right questions and I finally had to go to the Cleveland Clinic to get the right doc, the right diagnosis and the right medicines that enabled me to go back to functioning at a normal level. I often felt so discouraged and despondent that I wanted to give up but I knew, from my experience with close family members, that there can be a world of difference in the ability of professionals and that you shouldn’t give up!
    Thanks for reminding us of this important fact that doesn’t get emphasized as much as it should.

    1. Ann, thank you for your thoughtful response. You have a first-rate therapist in your family, so you know what a quality professional is.
      We just have to persevere when the need is there – for ourselves, or someone we love.
      Speaking of love….

    2. Somebody graduates at the bottom of every single class that is taught—-right? Whether they are in medical school or any other profession, somebody finishes with the lowest grade—yet, they can still squeak into their chosen field. The thing is, none of us ever knows where the people** that WE go to see ranked in their classes—- (**our doctors, attorneys, counselors, etc.). That is how we sometimes end up with professionals who don’t seem to know what they are talking about. When we come across these people we should immediately start networking with people we trust (friends, family, co-workers, etc.) who can recommend someone else—-somebody good! None of us has the time to waste with ‘professionals’ like that, especially when we need answers to big problems. Most of us have had the bad experience of meeting a medical professional who just doesn’t know his/her stuff well enough to help us, or thinks he/she is always right (arrogant/narcissistic). I’m glad both of you—Ann and Lisa—were able to persevere and ended up with someone good. The best doctor I ever had was someone I found in the yellow pages—right after I said a prayer that God would help me find the right doctor for me. I opened the book right up to the page where this doctor was listed, called the number, made an appointment, and never looked back! He has been the absolute best—–
      Lisa, can’t wait to read your book. I will have 25 years of sobriety this summer (8/27), and experienced a lot of dysfunction in my adult life, so on a personal level am very happy for you and your family. God Bless—-

      1. Ruth, thanks for sharing this.
        We are fortubnate to find the right physician, therapist…the right person to help us get well.
        Stay there!

        Thanks, again, Ruth – and congratulations to you on 25 years this summer!!