Dissatisfied with Therapist

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Couples' therapist made my relationship worse

May 2004

Anyone ever had a counselor make their life worse? Is there any place to complain to? I had a bad experience with a counselor calling me delusional when I went in for counseling with my very argumentative and abusive husband. We had big communications problems which then got worse. Husband then started shouting that I was delusional in front of kids. He says he won't talk to me unless there is a ''licensed professional'' in the room. He is trying to kick me out of the house and take the children. Scared

To scared: My advice is, take the kids and leave. I also was in an emotionally abusive relationship and although our couples therapist was phenomenally competent she simply did not believe me. Since my partner was wonderfully loving 95% of the time, and very believable, I just felt crazier & crazier as time went on. Thank god I decided to end the relationship, and now, 10 months later,I am just beginning to see clearly. Read Men Who Hate Women and the Women Who Love Them Good luck, Anon
I couldn't tell by your post how your therapist was incompetent, but I wanted to comment on your husband trying to kick you out of the house and take the kids. In California, it would be very difficult for him to do that. The courts usually puts the children with the mother, unless she is a unfit parent, and the burden of proof is with the accuser. You might want to contact the Alameda County Family Court Facilitators to get more information about your rights. Their number is (510) 208-4969. Good luck! Annon
I am a psychotherapist and I am sorry that you were not treated with respect, and that your husband took your therapist's lead and is now being verbally abusive. When you ask if there is a place where you can complain, are you looking to file a formal complaint against your therapist, or are you seeking mediation or another type of support? There are consumer boards where you can file a complaint against your therapist. I would be happy to email you the information about where to register your complaints, or I can give you some ideas about finding a more respectful therapist and getting some resoltion in your current situation. Feel free to email me. Kellie
The place to go to report incompetency is the Board of Behavioral Science Examiners in Sacramento (can find them online via a Google search). Check to see what kind of a therapist this person is (MFT, LCSW, Licensed Psychologist, Psychiatrist, Pastoral Counselor). The first two can be reported to the BBSE, but the others have their own Boards. Make your report in writing (send it certified mail and keep the receipt), so you have a paper trail. Then consult an attorney so you can turn your scared into strength and smartness on how to deal effectively with this difficult situation. My best. Ilene
Most health care professionals are regulated by a particular state board. If your counselor is a psychologist, you can complain to the CA Board of Psychology at http://www.psychboard.ca.gov/enforce/complaints.html. If it's a Licensed Marriage, family & child Therapist, complain to the Board of Behavioral Sciences at http://www.bbs.ca.gov/comp-1.htm. Best of luck. Anon.
I'm not a therapist, but have had some relevant experience. You could try another therapist, but be upfront about the facts and history. It's possible that you haven't heard your therapist correctly, or that you may have a problem that you can't accept. Few if any licensed therapists would tell you such a thing without a full explanation of what they mean, and they would do itin a constructive way. I've had experience with a partner who resisted the truth that the therapist tactfully but clearly and accurately stated - that's not uncommon, and more likely the issue than your therapist being incompetent. Blaming the therapist is a symptom of a fundamental problem. Putting words in the therapist's mouth is also something I've seen, and you should assess whether the problem is really yours or the therapist's. I'd recommend Vickie Van Winkle in Berkeley, she's excellent. experienced