As I share this story with you, keep this in mind – I have a Master’s Degree in Counseling and have been in the Social Work field for nearly 2 decades. Needless to say, I have a lot of tools in my tool box, which is fortunate. If I hadn’t had this kind of background, trusting the wrong Therapist just might have cost me my life.
A few years ago I found myself in a very dark place. My marriage was in tatters, devastated by the latest in a string of my ex-husband’s affairs. Our family of five had been uprooted from the town, school and job that I loved, and had moved 1500 miles away, under the pretense of a new job opportunity for the ex. I had no idea that the real reason for the move was his affair with a married woman. I discovered the truth shortly after the move, and was emotionally utterly destroyed. I was so distraught that my children and I barely recognized the person that I instantly became. Naturally, I did what many people in my position would have done – I got an emergency appointment with a therapist.
I had relocated for my ex-husband’s convenience, moving to an area where I suddenly had no job. My kids were struggling with the transition, and I was completely isolated from my former social circle. In addition to the betrayal of an affair, I was also dealing with the fallout from some very hurtful behavior on my ex’s part.
He engaged in conversations with his mistress, sharing with her photos of me and screenshots of my text messages to him saying disparaging things about my looks, my weight and my intelligence – nothing was off limits. The two of them plotted together to try and throw me out of my home, so that she could move in. To say that my self-esteem was at an all-time low would be the epitome of understatement. Out of necessity, I had sold some of our belongings to pay for the move, then discovered that the other woman was being lavished with gifts. The heartache was nearly too much to bear.
So there I was, falling apart at warp speed. I went to a therapist for help, for my sanity, for my soul. I knew that I needed a compassionate professional to catch me, hear me, see me, and to provide a healing space for me. I was in bad shape, and knew in the very center of my being, that I needed a helping hand.
I will never forget the day that I spent 2 hours in an office, with a supposed professional, who did little, aside from repeating back to me everything that I was saying. He kept just looking at me and saying, ‘Oh Heather this sounds so painful, this must be so painful.’
I lost it. My heart was breaking within me and I cried out to him.
“Yes! It’s excruciating,” I sobbed. “How are we going to fix it? How can I deal with it and get past it? Help me!”
I didn’t need to be reminded of my pain. I didn’t need him to merely validate my feelings. I needed help.
I stopped talking, a bit ashamed of how I’d just spoken to him, and looked up in my misery to meet his eyes. He looked like a deer who was caught in the headlights and ready to bolt. He literally said nothing. Nothing. Let that sink in for a moment. Picture that. I was sitting in the chair, raw and torn, and he said nothing. I’d exposed my entire being to him, and he said nothing.
After several minutes of silence he mumbled something about understanding how my situation could be stressful. In that moment, I was done. I knew with every fiber of my being that this man had nothing to offer me. He was not going to be the skilled, competent guide that I needed. I walked out of that office, broken, and never looked back. After a much more thorough and careful search, I finally found myself in the hands of a competent therapist, thankfully.
Here is why I’m sharing this. I had the knowledge and training to know that what was happening in that room wasn’t okay. This person wasn’t going to be able to provide effective care for me. I knew enough to know that I needed to find someone else. Not everyone will know or recognize that. I encourage you to know.
It’s perfectly okay to change therapists/coaches. Not all coaches/therapists are created equal, and by equal, I mean competent, compassionate and capable. If you leave a session with a professional and you don’t feel as though you’ve made any sort of progress, even if it was painful progress, honor your instincts and find someone else. You and your relationships, mental and emotional heath, and well-being, are too valuable to waste time and money with the wrong professional.
Pro Tips to Aid in Your Search:
Ask if your therapist/coach is familiar with the life-changing work of Pia Mellody and/or Terry Real. If you’ve suffered emotional trauma, find a pro who knows their groundbreaking techniques and be set free from the shadows of the past.
Look for – Education.
Look for – Life Experience.
Look for – A compassionate guide who is truly invested in your healing and progress.
I did it, and so can you!