These stories, from both therapists and their patients, prove that counselling is not for the faint of heart.
1. Be Good, Or Else
In 4th grade, my father got incredibly wasted around Christmas time. I was trying to sleep while my parents were fighting. I heard a crash and came out to see my dad had fallen into the Christmas tree, knocked it over, and broke a bunch of family ornaments. It was a mess. My mom stormed to bed, slamming the door.
My dad laid there, then threw up. I helped my dad up, and got cleaning supplies to start cleaning his vomit. Soon, I couldn’t help but start to cry. My dad started yelling at me for crying, and then he started crying and started telling me all these horrible things that happened to him as a kid, and about how good my life is.
I went to school the next day, exhausted, overwhelmed, and I forgot my book report at home. I couldn’t hold back the tears, so the teacher sent me to the school counselor. I opened up and told her about this horrific night. Her response made my blood run cold. She looked at me and said, “Well that is terrible, but you know, some little girls’ daddies get wasted like that every night.”
She then continued, “And that’s really bad. If this happens every night, people would come take you away from your family, and you’d have to live with foster parents! Wouldn’t that be worse?” I remember the thoughts racing through my head. I had come prepared to finally talk about my dad’s problems and how it was affecting me, but the words “really bad” were bouncing around in my head, along with “foster care.”
So instead, I just nodded and didn’t say another word. It absolutely wrecked me for about four years. Having a secret, a burden you feel that you carry alone, and if anyone finds out you’ll be ripped from your family, is the loneliest feeling as a kid. In 8th grade, my mom took me to Alateen, and I believe it saved my life.
2. Family First
I was counseling a 13-year-old girl who had severe anxiety. At one of our sessions, she revealed that her stepfather was abusing her. Immediately after our session ended, I called her mom and told her that I needed to call child protective services. The mom’s next words shocked me. She told me that CPS was already aware of the situation, it had first been reported when the patient was about seven years old.
That’s right. Mom was aware of what was happening and still stayed with the guy who was harming her daughter. It was a complicated situation, and it wasn’t. How could she not do more to protect her daughter?! Sorry, lady… I’m judging.
3. Abandon All Hope
When I was 12 years old, my mother took me to a therapist. I did actually need therapy because I had a horrible home life, but my mother didn’t take me for that type of reason. She took me because I was “acting out” and getting bad grades. I wasn’t “acting out” though. I was wanting to do things like “read” and “be a kid,” and not do things like “take care of my younger siblings” and “cook meals.”
On our first session, my mom started outlining my many flaws, some of which were obviously a sign that I was having trouble at home, such as never wanting to come out of my room and having a hard time with hygiene. The therapist started making faces like I’m nasty and worthless. He gave me “homework” that week.
I had to bathe every day, help with chores and siblings with no complaints, and study every night. Of course this didn’t happen. So the next week, we went in for our second session, and he asked if I did my “homework.” Of course, Mom immediately told him that I didn’t even try to do any of it. This was not true. I did try to study but she kept dragging me out of my room and lecturing me for “hiding again” when I should be cooking dinner.
She told me she did so much for me and I was so ungrateful, etc. This is when the therapist nearly made my heart stop. He turned, looked at me, and said, “You’re worthless, stupid, and lazy. You can’t even follow simple instructions.” Then he looked at my mother and said, “You may as well give up on her. She’s never going to amount to anything. She’s stupid and lazy and will end up locked away. Just focus on your other kids.”
Ironically, that ticked my mother right off and she took me away from that therapist and found a new one. This therapist was nicer, but really of no help either. My issues were right there, flashing in neon, but he never did anything about it. Mom stuck with him though, because he would let her vent. She used him as her therapist more than I did.
He kept reassuring her she really was a good parent, which is really what she wanted to hear. To this day, she insists she took me away from that first therapist because he said to give up on me, but she would never give up on me. This is partly true, but we didn’t leave because he was horrible to me. It was because by saying I was worthless and would never be worth anything and to give up on me, he was calling HER a bad parent.
4. Better Things To Do
I work in mental health and crisis management. A few years ago, I worked with a young person who had significant ongoing suicidal ideation and was dealing with a lot of emotional pain. I spent a lot of time with them, looking at de-escalation strategies and working out what their mental health management plan should be as they move forward. It was a high-pressure situation, but not too out of the ordinary for my line of work. Well, until I met this poor young person’s parents.
One of their parents came in so we could discuss what had been going on with their child. I had the child’s consent to discuss aspects of our sessions with the parent, of course. Midway through me trying to explain some of the child’s psychological issues and go through ways the parent could help, they said something that made my jaw drop.
They actually asked me, “I’m sorry to interrupt you, but is this going to take much longer? I have a show to go and watch?” All I can say is, I never judge my patients. I’ve never walked their path or viewed the world through their eyes. But the people around them who perpetuate their suffering through ignorance, malice, and selfishness, I judge them.
5. Women Are Angels
I was 17 years old and recently homeless because my parents kicked me out for being bisexual and dating a girl. Unfortunately, this girl was also horrible. As a result of the relationship, I was deeply depressed and anxious. So, I saw the therapist at my college, who told me that “women aren’t abusers” with a real snooty attitude.
When I countered with examples, she scoffed and said it “must not be that bad if I didn’t just leave.” Yep, classic blame the victim stuff. And then she asked for my payment. I was young and scared and had no support net, and in hindsight I was trying to find someone to help me mentally steel myself to leave this girl.
Instead, the “therapist” made me feel invalidated and weak and stupid. As a result, I stayed in a relationship that only got worse and more dangerous. I stayed for five more years, if you can believe it. I eventually figured it out, but she did so much harm. I wish I had that time back…plus a much better therapist than I got.
6. The Homewrecker
My husband and I decided to go to counseling that was being offered by Veteran Affairs, or VA, for families. Our dynamic was horrible at this time, and it was taking a toll on me. I cried at the first session and the counselor said that I was depressed and that I needed meds. She said that we could all resume sessions together only after I was medicated.
In the meantime, she would continue to counsel only my husband. After his first session alone with her, he was visibly upset. He didn’t want to talk about it, but eventually did—his confession was horrific. The counselor actually came on to him during the session and basically suggested they should go and get a hotel together.
She then mentioned that her husband was high-ranking and was always busy, so she could do whatever she wanted. My husband blasted out of there, and I immediately went ahead and called the VA to turn her in. My husband was so scared because she made a veiled threat that her husband could ruin my husband’s medical retirement status.
That woman was vile and aggressive. I wonder how many men or marriages she did that to.
7. Their Merry Way
My ex and I had broken up, but before we ended things, we booked a couple’s therapy appointment. Even though we were over, my ex still wanted to go to the appointment “for closure.” This was around the holidays, and she had been pressuring me to decide if I would be celebrating Christmas with her family. I was putting it off because I wasn’t sure.
It would be weird since we weren’t together, but since she wanted to tell her family after the holidays, we’d have to pretend that we were still a couple. It was such a mess, but it was about to take a jaw-dropping turn. When we were at our counseling session, my ex brought up the whole Christmas thing, saying she needed me to be there.
I told her that was dumb, that I didn’t want to pretend to be together, and that the whole thing was messed up. Then my ex looked at the therapist and was like, “Obviously, I’m right. Don’t you agree?” The therapist laughed out loud, then went bright red and apologized for being unprofessional.My ex still hates the therapist. I kept the therapist. I like her attitude, honestly.
8. I Just Can’t Decide
I was diagnosed with ADHD 18 months ago after a lifetime of depression, anxiety, eating disorders, etc. At the time, the psychiatrist said he strongly suspected that I’m also autistic based on answers to certain questions and family heritage, but we’d concentrate on the ADHD diagnosis for now. The ADHD meds definitely made a huge difference and enabled me to get some form of life back, but I was still having problems.
In December, after my mother and I filled in extensive questionnaires, I had a three-hour interview with a renowned specialist, and the autism diagnosis was unequivocal. Like my ADHD, it was missed for so long because I’m female and older. No one was looking for either of those things in girls as I was growing up. It really helped to put my past in perspective.
In January, I paid for a follow-up appointment with the original psychiatrist who diagnosed me with ADHD, and who had suggested I’m probably autistic in the first place. I told him of the new diagnosis, and his reply stopped me in my tracks. He informed me that I “actually can’t possibly be autistic because you can socialise.”
He then proceeded to tell me that the company who diagnosed me tended to “diagnose everybody at the drop of a hat.” He actually sent a letter to that effect to my doctor, telling him to take my autism diagnosis “with a pinch of salt.” I was floored over this. He was an older, caring, father-figure type whom I trusted, and credited with changing my life.
I didn’t want to disagree with him, but accepting what he says basically means I go back to my original image of myself as just broken instead. However, perhaps he’s right. Even so, how unprofessional is it to dismiss another psychiatric institution like that, and to put that in writing? I’m still trying to work all of this out in my head, but my main takeaway is I think I need a new psychiatrist.
9. Whose Behind The Wheel
I used to work in a psych hospital. You learn pretty quickly not to judge anyone especially when someone can go from being manic talking about hurting their dog for their waffles to being a completely “normal” person in no time. But I will never forget this one woman. This woman came in for depression and suicidal ideation.
She was drinking and driving with her 17-year-old son in the car. She crashed into a tree, and her son didn’t survive. He was from my town but was much younger than me, so I didn’t know him. When the woman came, she stayed in her room at first, but over the course of the week, she started coming into the common areas.
Then she made a bunch of friends and was loud and obnoxious. She met with her doctors, and they decided to give her a day pass to go to her son’s funeral. The day of funeral, she was laughing and joking with her new friends. She left for the day, and when she came back, I overheard that she’d skipped her son’s funeral.
Instead, she went to record a video of her and her new boyfriend hooking up. I know they say you never really know how someone grieves, but I really wanted to tell that woman to screw off.
10. Hungry For The Truth
After a couple of long years of medical struggle, my therapist hit a wall and yelled at me that I had an eating disorder and I needed to accept it. She put me on a diet of all the things I hated eating, and told me to not come back to her until a month had passed. I hated eating the foods on the list not because I had an eating disorder, but because they hurt me.
The list included things like acidic foods, high protein foods, and peanuts. Four months later, I was diagnosed with multiple digestive conditions, had a long list of sensitivities and allergies, got declared disabled, and was gently reprimanded by my doctors for following my therapist’s demand because it caused esophageal bleeding and slight scarring.
My doctor is definitely mad at her for ignoring what was clearly not a mental health thing. I got a new therapist.
11. Follow The Path
Not much shocks me and it’s hard to make me judge one of my patients. However, I will admit that I felt pretty judgmental when I opened the door to a new patient and they immediately threw a cup of pee and poo in my face. I tried to think objectively and keep my cool, but my brain just went, “what a jerk.” Not my best day on the job.
12. Who Needs Privacy?
In high school, I was being pretty difficult because of some really intense events happening in my life. I had a super rough family home life, and I withdrew because of it. My parents were very “Sunday Christian,” meaning while at church, they’re the best Christians, but the teachings did NOT make it home. They gave us NO privacy whatsoever, and were always in our phones, our bags, our rooms.
They were just in every aspect of our life if it offered them control. Eventually, they “found me a counselor,” and hinted I knew them personally. What they actually ended up doing was sending me to therapy with the PASTOR’S WIFE. It became super clear that she was telling them the things we were talking about, but I held out hope because I didn’t really have proof of it happening.
One day, I just couldn’t take it anymore, so I made a plan to catch them in the act. I ended up lying and telling my therapist I got in a fender bender. Well, she told my parents right when I left, because when I showed up at home, my dad demanded to see my bumpers. My bumpers were fine. My parents won’t admit what happened to this day, but they never made me go again, so there’s that, at least.
13. Impressive Intake
I saw a new therapist who specialized in addictions. He had been doing his job for decades at that point, so when I walked in, he could tell that I was into some heavy stuff. But after I told him my typical intake, he lost his cool. His jaw dropped and he actually went, “Holy moly, how are you even still alive?” I never had a therapist be so frank, but honestly, it was a fair question. I don’t know how I’m alive.
14. No Other Options
I was working at a rehabilitation center, and there was a client who checked in and was a self-proclaimed, “drug lord.” As we worked together, he told me about his history. During our conversation, he made a chilling revelation. He admitted to selling his sister into slavery. He forcibly injected her with sedatives and narcotics, and people, “taught her a lesson.”
He never shared what that meant. He told this story with a blank face, smiling only when he recalled the “good times,” which he referred to as times when he had enough substances to get through the day. I do not know where he is at now and honestly, I don’t want to. But this disturbing conversation with a horrible man did have a good side.
It inspired me to work with victims of human trafficking, because not only do they deal with the stigma of “selling their bodies,” they often manage addiction issues at the same time. People would honestly be floored if they knew how many people’s addictions started against their own will, when somebody forcibly gave them something.
15. A Misunderstood Artist
One therapist tried to read into my sketches and doodles. I drew a realistic fish, which I was quite proud of, in pencil. So, I was told that the fish was a silent, scaled, armored or walled-off creature, with no one around to interact with. A fish is not really noticed, and it wasn’t done in color, so obviously I thought that all the color had gone from my world.
In reality, I was nervous over the fact that I hadn’t been accepted to a post secondary school at that point, and was practicing drawing realistic images as a way of giving myself something to focus on as I waited.
16. Unhealthy Attachment
I work at a residential group home. We had a kid admitted four months prior who admitted in a family session that they had parasites. I felt incredulous. The mom went, “Oh yeah, our whole family has them. We don’t believe in getting rid of them since they’re part of our biological ecosystem,” and I was just dumbstruck.
We spent the next three weeks convincing the family it was an infectious disease concern as other residents had fecal eating behaviors and many other unsanitary issues that could cause a unit spread. It was three weeks of education, planning, and, worst of all, convincing the kid and mother that their IQ wouldn’t drop.
17. Not My Problem
While in a meeting about how my notes have been behind, I disclosed that I just learned that I have severe ADHD, and that I had spent the last month getting medicated, learning about the diagnosis, and finding what systems and strategies work best for me. The clinical director, a therapist for over 20 years, stopped me in the middle of that explanation, while waving her hand in my face.
She said, “I don’t want to hear any of that, that’s your business on your personal time. I want to know about your notes.” I was kind of stunned, because it was an explanation about my notes AND my strategy for staying on track.
18. Always Pregnant, Never A Mother
I worked with a woman who would deliberately keep getting pregnant because she enjoyed the attention. Then, when she would have the baby, she would immediately dump them into the foster system or, in one case, just drop the baby off with a willing relative. She had already given birth to six kids when I met her.
19. Twisted Dating Advice
I went to see a psychiatrist because I was having symptoms of PTSD after an ex tried to hurt me when I left him. He then stalked me, forced his way into my apartment, and forced himself on me. The psychiatrist, who was an older man, told me that I needed to work on my physical appearance and demeanor to be more feminine and demure.
Apparently, “quality men” weren’t attracted to women who looked and behaved like me, and I should never try to get involved in another relationship without making myself more appealing to “quality men” first, or I would end up right back in the same situation. Yeah, I dropped that guy like a hot potato after that.
20. Share Your Feelings
My therapist was at one point also my mother’s therapist. At first, he didn’t want to see me due to the conflict of interest. However, he felt bad for me because I had just received a harsh medical diagnosis and was reeling. I had met with him before so I felt more comfortable with him than somebody I did not know. When my mother moved to a different city and stopped seeing the therapist, he started to see me.
At our sessions, we talked about my mom a lot. I’m not going to give details, but my mom had recently done something really messed up. It basically ruined our relationship. When I told my therapist, he wasn’t surprised because of how well he knew her, so he believed me when I told him about how cruel she was. Though he was mindful to not reveal anything about his sessions with her, I got the sense that he understood that she was not a nice person (and that’s putting it lightly).
Anyway, my mother came back to the state a couple of months later, and I asked my therapist if he would be willing to mediate a conversation between her and I. He didn’t want to do it. At first, I was upset—until he explained it to me. He said that my mother is a narcissistic woman, and by then, he had learned a lot more about her from me.
He could not be a neutral party in the matter. He said, “I’ll be honest. I would be on your side, and we both know how upset that would make your mom, and I worry it would just lead to more mistreatment for you.” I had never heard him straight up call her that before, so it was kind of surprising and also very affirming.
21. Young And Carefree
I was fresh out of high school and really depressed. I had no friends, a horrible relationship with my mom and step dad, and no one to confide in. I gave in after being pressured to see someone because mental health issues run in my family. I booked an hour assessment. But I was in and out within 20 minutes.
The therapist completely dismissed me because I was young and “every young person goes through these things. Everyone worries about their future, this is totally normal.” It took me three years to go back to therapy, and this time around, I was admitted after just my second appointment. Listen to your gut and get a therapist who listens too.
22. Pick The Best Option
I was working with a child who had a severe mood disorder and had made both suicidal and homicidal threats and attempts. I was telling the parents that it did not seem like a good idea to buy the young kid a firearm…especially the week after the mother spent our session sharing her fears that the child would hurt her.
23. The Wrath Of God
When I was in my early 20s, I was still a virgin at the time and it was really upsetting me. A therapist told me it was a good thing, and then showed me pictures of STDs. Oh, but it got so much weirder than that. She told me that STDs were God’s punishment for immoral behavior, and that one in three people had one.
When I brought up the fact that condoms exist and can help with that, she told me that condoms couldn’t protect me from God’s anger. She then prayed I remained a virgin until marriage, and that I would no longer desire to commit sin. Looking back, I should have reported her to some sort of therapist license board. Also, I ended up getting plenty of action about a year after that, and still no STDs. I guess God isn’t angry enough at me.
24. Shouldn’t See It Coming
There was a lady with several issues and a tragic childhood full of trauma. She ended up with a guy who severely mistreated her. She had a child. Her child meant the world to her. She took that kid wherever she went. Sadly, that meant that this poor kid had to watch his mother get hurt. One of her boyfriends even kept her in a cage. I can’t even imagine…
Thankfully, the mom got out and is now doing much better. But for that kid’s childhood, he already saw everything, and that kind of damage can’t be undone. It breaks my heart to see such a terrible cycle continue onto the next generation, especially when this kid was a complete innocent. The whole thing still makes me cry, even though I dealt with this case years ago.
25. Belittling Your Patients
This guy was an “ADHD specialist.” I was seeing him to try and make sense of my crippling executive dysfunction and lifelong problems with attentiveness. He just spent our sessions telling me my problems weren’t bad enough because, “You make good eye contact and you’re an engaging, interesting conversationalist. Clearly, you can’t have ADHD.”
He kept saying things like, “My other patients are addicts with no direction in life. You think your problems are as bad as theirs?” Apparently, everyone with an attention disorder is a delinquent. Also, way to throw your other patients, who are surely coming to you to deal with their own demons, under the bus, dude.
26. Poor Treatment
When I worked in crisis management, I went to visit a client in the emergency room. Her boyfriend was a registered sex offender. Her mother and her best friend told her that if she was going to be with him, they weren’t going to have contact with her. The client’s mother had custody of her children and wouldn’t let her visit if she was with her boyfriend.
So the client said that after many fights with her boyfriend, she ended up in the ER feeling suicidal. This happened multiple times, usually every two weeks or so. While talking, she admitted that all of her problems were due to her boyfriend. But then, after talking about all this stuff, she insisted that she wasn’t going to leave him.
As a personal rule, I never tell anyone what to do. That’s not my job. My job is to outline the choices they have and go through the consequences of their choices. But that night in the emergency room was the first time that I wanted to break the rules, shake this girl, and tell her to leave her skeezy boyfriend YESTERDAY.
27. Don’t Date Patients
I was in a mental health ward for a month and became close to a nurse. After leaving, she gave me her number and we hit it off. We started a relationship, but I finally noticed how secretive she was. I soon found out she was doing this to other patients, too, forging relationships with them after they got out.
Once she found out I knew, she blocked me on everything. Since then I’ve struggled with addiction and two DUIs. I don’t blame her for what she did, but I became reliant on her and felt loved. I felt so betrayed. She is still a mental health care nurse.
28. Permanent Defeat
I provided therapeutic services for people with brain injuries. I was trying to explain to a family that they needed to accept their son/brother as he was in the moment because, in all likelihood, he wasn’t going to get any better. The family was being unkind to him, calling him stupid, and generally being the worst version of family “support.”
The family said they would never accept him as he was and demanded that I arrange a brain transplant for him so that he could go back to the way he was before the accident. I didn’t react, but my student completely lost it and started laughing uncontrollably. She had to leave. That outraged the family, who demanded an explanation.
I literally had to explain to them, a group of adults, that first, brain transplants are not possible, and second, if a brain transplant was possible, that would mean putting a different person into their son’s body. They didn’t get it. Instead, they insisted I could do it and that I was just too lazy and dumb to try. I felt so sorry for that poor young man.
29. I’m Always Right
I was having panic attacks daily, and the meds I got made my anxiety worse. It turned out I just have bad reactions to the medication, but my therapist was a moron and kept prescribing me the same kind. I let him know, and he just started taking it really personally that all the medication he had put me on was giving me seriously bad side effects.
“Have you just given up then?” he asked. “Do you just want to be like this the rest of your life?” Obviously not, that’s why I’m in this office trying new medications! I was so angry, and ironically had a panic attack in his office that very day. I ended up just walking out and finding a new psychiatrist later, and they are much better.
30. Wood Work In Class
My therapist used to work in a prison, and one day, they were working with the inmates on health education. They were teaching them how to properly use protection by practicing on, let’s say, suggestively shaped wooden implements. My therapist told me that at the end of the lesson, some of the pieces went missing. I didn’t ask more questions.
31. Never Say Never
My therapist and I were on the topic of facial expression recognition. My ability to read facial expressions had actually been tested, and it turned out I scored far above average. However, I was still diagnosed with autism, and my therapist told me, “You will never be able to have normal social relationships. Other people will always need to adjust to you.” Despite what my therapist said, I’ve simply never had problems with social situations.
32. Smell My Wrath
I had a mother report that her child was having bathroom accidents suddenly and at home only. He’s a nine-year-old boy with no history of bathroom accidents or trauma. Training tells us this behavior could be a sign of a variety of things such as neglect, anxiety, PTSD, etc. So to start figuring out the cause, I spoke with his in-home behavioral specialist.
She was a clinician who helped the boy’s behavioral troubles and mental health issues, and worked with the family to make healthy routines. She called me and told me the real story. The boy was becoming very angry and spiteful with his parents for making him go back to school when they reopened this year. He wasn’t mentally troubled. He was mad.
It turned out that he went into his parent’s en suite bathroom, took his mother’s robe off the hook, threw it on the floor, took a giant dump on it, and hung it back up. He also peed inside her dresser drawer. I’m not going to lie. My jaw was dropped when I hung up the phone. I then laughed so hard I nearly fell out of my desk chair.
33. Maybe It’s Not The End?
My ex broke up with me because I was more invested in the relationship than she was. It was a totally fine thing to do, but my shrink told me that “Your ex-girlfriend is acting this way because she wants to get back together with you, and if you hang in there I’m sure she will.” Yes, this is ridiculously bad advice, and I took it hook, line, and sinker.
I spent a whole year truly believing that any minute we were going to reunite, and this was actively encouraged by my therapist. It was awful. After 12 months of tormenting myself and my ex with these fantasies, I dumped the therapist, and my ex and I are actually pretty good friends now. That year was a lost year for me.
34. Problems Big And Small
I do judge my patients sometimes but never the patients with serious problems. I have a hard time being a good therapist for clients who have said, and unfortunately, these are real quotes, “I’m so upset my husband only lets me have $10k a month for shopping,” “My kid gets B grades, and I’m so upset,” and “I feel so depressed because my favorite TV show is off the air.” Yeah, you don’t have real problems.
35. Baring It All
In three different clinics, on at least six different occasions, a male therapist entered my bedroom while I was in bed in my underwear and told me to get out despite me not being dressed, while they were in the room. This happened when I was ages 18 to 20. They would never leave instantly after a “no.” Instead, they’d stay and try to convince me.
One time, after I kept refusing, this nurse went to the head therapist, and I had to have several appointments on “not cooperating in therapy.”
36. Ill Willing
A woman who was the director of a group home came in, so that I could do an assessment on one of her clients. This particular client was being discharged from a 12-month stay at a state hospital. She had been in there for a terrible reason. She had stomped another girl in the face and caused serious brain damage—all because she thought the girl was going to “take her vape.”
Obviously, there was more than just that. This client also had severe schizophrenia and trauma history. She kept telling me that she didn’t care about anything and that she didn’t have to talk to me. When she started berating me, I said that I did not feel comfortable doing the assessment if she kept shouting. It was already a bad day, but it was about to get weird.
The group home director started saying that she was the girl’s temporary guardian (which is against a slew of regulations). Then the director kept cutting the client off, saying that we had to do this today or she’d be homeless. She also smelled like weed, had dilated pupils, and was speaking strangely. I started suspecting that the client wasn’t the only one with mental issues.
I got really uncomfortable when the client was talking about her symptoms, only for the director to interrupt and say that she heard voices in her head too. The entire thing was bizarre, and I looked into it just to verify and that person was indeed the director of a group home. Somehow, she was—but clearly, this lady needed help.
I ended up speaking to several colleagues and learning that many other people had made complaints about the director. She was currently being investigated. Looking back, I’m certain that she was exploiting my client in some way.
37. Leaving A Bad Taste Behind
My first-ever psychologist, who I saw when I was about 20, was super into astrology. She had a “purple room” where she would figure out the exact second of your birth, and how the planets related and all that. I don’t remember what else, but she charged an additional like $500 for it. That wasn’t the worst thing, though.
So one day, I had some abnormal test results with a pap. I was worried about it, and expressed that to her. She told me some story about my chakras, and told me my tongue ring was causing my abnormal paps. Looking back, it really ticked me off. She set the expectation of what I could expect from a psychologist, since I didn’t know. I didn’t seek the right treatment for many years after because I thought, “What’s the point, they’re more loony than me!”
38. Keeping Us Down
I worked in a recovery center for families. We received a family where the mother had a diagnosis of BPD, dissociative disorder, and c-PTSD with domestic charges, battery charges, and previous addictions. She also had a couple of kids, so part of her program involved re-learning how to interact with her children and being a better mother.
Here I was working with this family fresh out of my masters and, in all honesty, I was way out of my league. One of the kids was basically what we would call the “channeler” in the family. They channeled all the anger, sadness, and rage from the mom onto everyone else. We tried talking to the mom about how she interacted with this child. It couldn’t have gone worse.
All communication between the family came in the form of screaming, grabbing, or restraining them, but mom could not grasp it. She was in trauma therapy but still was having difficulty processing. We were on a walk, and just out of nowhere the mom body-slammed that kid to the concrete floor, shocking my co-worker and I.
That was the moment when I judged my client. This kid was like six years old and just looked so scared and sad.
39. But You’re Not A Man!
A few months ago, my 16-year-old daughter’s therapist asked her if she was thinking about her career after high school. I work in the trade industry and have encouraged her to look into trade jobs or careers. My daughter, no doubt influenced by my example, told her that she was going to take a course to become a professional welder.
The therapist told her, “You don’t want to do that, that is a MAN’s job. It will be hot and you’ll ruin your makeup.” My daughter told her, “I don’t wear makeup,” and ended the session. She then called me at work and told me all about it, almost crying. I immediately cancelled her next three appointments and changed counselors.
40. Imprisoned Pride
My wife is a therapist at the state correctional facility. The only thing for her that makes her judge someone is if they strike a nerve, usually because they remind her of an insecurity she has had to deal with in her own life. For example, one client, an addict, spouted off about how the whole world was against him and he did nothing wrong.
He started bragging, going on about all the amazing things he was going to do when he got out of the clink, and his whole attitude really rubbed her wrong. As she was telling me about the guy and how much she had trouble with him, I was like, “He sounds just like your brother.” Not to go into it, but her brother was not a great guy. After that, she realized why the client triggered her so much.
41. It’s Quittin’ Time
During sophomore year of nursing school, I told my counselor that I was getting really scared I was going to relapse into anorexia because of my perfectionism in school. If I got less than 93% on assignments, I felt that I didn’t deserve to eat and would restrict. Her response was, “Well, I really admire your hard work, and I think it’s admirable what high standards you hold yourself to. That dedication is going to help your future patients.”
I was also her last appointment of the day. She was behind her desk, packing her things up to leave while she was talking to me.
42. Man’s Worst Friend
I judged one of my clients when he admitted to hurting his neighbor’s dog with pellets just for fun. To make matters worse, he wasn’t just a random neighbor. He knew these people. He was actually dog sitting for them while they were away for vacation. The family came home to find a very sick dog, and when they took him to the vet, realized he was full of BB pellets. That one really upset me.
43. A Familiar Face
I saw a therapist maybe a year ago, and I felt pretty good about the connection during our first session. Two weeks later, I came in ready to talk, and she said, “You look so familiar. I feel like we’ve met before.” She didn’t remember that we already had a session and talked for an hour. One of the things I was struggling with was feeling like my family forgot me often, and didn’t spend time getting to know me.
44. Need It To Live
After working with a client for two months on his substance use during inpatient treatment, I thought he was making real progress. He’d had a lot of real change talk and had started discussing his goals for the future. The next session he told me that the reason he had so many issues in his life wasn’t because of his habit, but his mother.
I listened and thought maybe something deep was about come out from his childhood or his relationship. Nope, I was so, so wrong. He said, “If my mom wasn’t so awful, I would be living in her house right now.” I asked why exactly she wouldn’t allow him to currently live with her, and he said, “because she won’t let me take hard stuff in the house.”
And he just kept going: “I don’t understand! That’s like telling her she can’t take her heart meds!” Internally, I was like, “Um what!? That substance will destroy you, and you are comparing that to your mom’s heart medications!? You were so far past this yesterday!” But what came out of my mouth was, “Okay, let’s explore that a little more.”
45. Going Ga-Ga
My therapist told me, “You should have another baby.” That was said to me after a session where I was discussing the insane amount of stress I was living under. My teenage son had emergency brain surgery a year before, and since then, my world basically revolved around doctors and therapists. I was 40 years old, and the therapist was already aware that I only had one child based on a mutual decision between me and my husband that we were very much happy with.
That therapist is no longer my therapist. The baby comment was the last straw.
46. Obviously Oblivious
A gentleman sat down for the initial consultation and said, “I’ll get right to the point, Doc. I’ve been married five times. My question is, since I know I’m obviously not the problem, what does it take to find a decent woman in this world?” He said all this with no sense of humor, no hint of irony, nothing. He was completely serious.
47. When Kindness Goes Too Far
This happened to me before I was married, and was struggling with living on my own. My therapist began to feel so bad for me that she asked me to come live with her. She had a big house and two other adopted daughters. I was like, 19 at the time, and I’m pretty sure that broke every rule of patient-doctor boundaries. Needless to say, I felt very uncomfortable with that doctor and switched soon after.
48. Throwing Off My Game
I volunteered in a psychiatric hospital where we’d visit the patients and interact with them. One of the requirements was that we didn’t know what things they had done before being admitted to the facility. The idea was that the less we knew, the less we could judge them. Suffice to say, this was a high-security place and the people inside had some dark pasts.
One day, I was playing basketball with a group of about five residents when one of the guys stopped to say something mid-game. He came over to me quietly went, “I’m in here because I sedated my wife and kid before burning my house down, and then I pled insanity.” He sounded completely sincere and clear, and I have never had more intense goosebumps my whole life. He then yelled game on and continued to play like nothing had ever happened.
49. It’s All In The Chemicals
I was told that with medication and therapy, I could become straight, and then I would “be fine.” She wasn’t a psychiatrist, and couldn’t prescribe medication, but encouraged me many times to get my hormones tested, which all showed up normal. She insisted that if I wasn’t chemically gay, then I must have experienced trauma with a man to have made me that way.
She didn’t believe me when I said no, I’m fine with men, I love my dad a normal amount, and I never suffered trauma with a man. She was just very cold and weirdly unable to deal with people expressing emotions, and I know that she received complaints from other clients too. Thankfully, I switched psychologists eventually, and I was ironically too distraught during our sessions to really absorb anything the old therapist was saying and to put her plans into action. Still, what a horrible way to start off therapy. I was 14 years old.
50. The Fault In Our Oops
One of my first jobs was in a residential treatment facility for kids under 18. There was one patient who had incredibly severe schizophrenia, but because he was only 15, he was too young to be officially diagnosed. Because he didn’t have an official diagnosis, he didn’t get the care he needed—and the results were brutal. Even though he was young, this kid was built like an absolute tank. He beat multiple adults for the tiniest reasons. He hurt one guy because his astrological sign wasn’t Aries. The guy needed full facial reconstruction after the attack.
Then there was the time during a community meeting when everyone smelled poo. The staff asked to speak with one kid, since he was known for having accidents. They excused him from the meeting and told him to go clean up. He avidly denied that he was the source of the smell. But then, as the kid started to walk to his room, a piece of poop fell out through his jeans. Wild times.
51. It’s Just A Simple Instruction
It was a bad time for my marriage, so I went to visit a marriage counselor. At the office, there was a sign on the door that said, “Do not knock. Please sit and wait for someone to get you,” or something like that. Well, I was standing near the door when my wife came over and knocked. I told her, “There’s a sign that says don’t do that!” So, she sat back down.
The therapist opened the door and saw me standing there, and she immediately hated me, thinking I knocked on the door. She just bashed me the entire session. I had to walk out and when I left the room, this lady even started talking about me behind my back. I was shaken. I refused to pay, and told her she shouldn’t treat patients like that. Those were some terrible times.
52. Picky And Choosy
In a first-semester class, the professor said to consider our values and share which clients, if any, we’d be uncomfortable serving. One classmate said, “gay people,” because he was personally disgusted by them. Another shared that her religious beliefs wouldn’t allow her to serve a client who was considering ending a pregnancy
The professor thanked them for their honesty, gently reminded them of their duties under the NASW ethics code, but ultimately validated their right to not serve certain clients stating that if they harbored implicit biases, they may do more harm than good. A year later at my internship, I had weekly one-on-one meetings with a client.
She had rejected all the other therapists she had met at the agency. I was told that I was a “perfect fit” for her, but never told why. When I met with the client, everything became clear—but in the worst way possible. She was a white supremacist, and I’m white. All the other therapists she’d met at the agency were either Latino or African American.
When the session ended, I set up a meeting with my on-site supervisor. I explained to her that I’d been assigned to counsel a white supremacist and that white supremacy was against my core values. As such, I explained, I could not continue working with her because I harbored such a fundamental disgust for her ideology.
I expected that, like those who shared in my first-year class, I would be thanked for my honesty, and the client would be reassigned. This was not the case. The pushback I received was significant, and I was told that I would have to serve her and that it’d be a “learning and growing” experience for me. I had no choice. If I wanted to keep my internship and complete my required hours, I had to do as they said.
It was an incredibly traumatic year.
53. I Know Your Secrets
One therapist tried to convince me that most of my problems came from a secret resentment of my younger sister, who has autism. I told her I had a great relationship with her, and that my parents were awesome at dividing our time 50/50, even though her needs were a lot more…involved, I suppose is the word? She didn’t believe me, and even tried to convince my mom that I resented my sister. I stopped after three visits.
54. Not Rhetorical
I once had to ask a client, “So you thought the best way to deal with your child’s anxiety was to buy an anti-psychotic prescription pill off the internet and grind it into their food without them knowing?”
55. A Total Joker
I was in college having a really bad panic attack. Actually, it was more than a panic attack, because I felt like I was dissociating and leaving my body. I was scared and I needed to see someone to calm me down, so I went to my school’s mental health care facility and requested to speak to a therapist on call. They allowed emergency walk-ins like this, but for some reason it took like 30 minutes to see her.
I was still panicking when I finally got to see her. She recommended some muscle tension technique where I clenched my fist and focused on the feeling of releasing my fist. Well, that triggered my panic attack to enter some different dimension. Pins and needles went up my arm, into my neck, and down my spine. I thought this was it.
I didn’t know what was happening. I started crying hysterically and gasping for air. I took off most of my clothes and sprawled out on the ground. I was holding onto her for my life. I couldn’t see and couldn’t feel my body. It was terrifying. I finally just surrendered to the feeling and stopped resisting, and just kind of mentally let go.
I instantly started to feel better and slowly came back to my body. As I was sniffling and calming down, makeup all over my face, slowly putting my clothes back on, she just said to me, “You know, you should really try laughing sometimes.” She didn’t say a word to me while I was having an episode, and this what she thought was appropriate to say to me when it was all over?
56. Makes No Sense
I’m a behavioral therapist for autistic children. I don’t judge them for anything. But what did shock me once was when I worked with a seven-year-old child in the middle of a tantrum. I was sitting next to him because he had asked me to stay by his side and hold his hand. During his intense crying, he stopped for a second.
Then he asked, “What’s wrong with me? Why am I like this? Why am I so useless?” This kid was freaking smart. He could tell you pretty much anything about the solar system. I asked him one time very randomly, “Hey, how many kilometers is the earth away from Jupiter?” And this kid, without hesitation, gave me the answer.
I looked it up, and he was right. So, to hear him say that about himself broke my heart.
57. Women, Am I Right?
Keep in mind I went to a volunteer clinic that accepted donations as payment, so I’m sure this guy was trying his best, but I had a horrible experience. First off, I do struggle with being around strangers, so I asked if my husband could come with me the first time. While the doctor was asking me questions, I mentioned that I was bipolar.
He proceeded to look directly at my husband and said, “Wow, I feel sorry for this guy. It must feel like your wife is going through her monthly cycle all the time.” Long story short, I left and never went back.
58. Twisted View
This one patient really got under my skin. He seriously injured his wife, denied it, and said she was lying about the entire thing. He later told me that they were having relationship problems. The reason for these problems? He felt like she wasn’t allowed to refuse him in bed because they were married. I later learned that the wife had to call the authorities on her husband because he refused to take no as an answer.
59. First, Do No Harm
A psychiatrist told me after I started hormone replacement therapy that I’m going to regret it and that it’ll ruin my body. That was a difficult decision for me, because I was just scared to make the wrong decision. After the psychiatrist put her finger in that wound, my anxiety was suddenly so bad that I wasn’t able to sleep or eat for a few days.
I needed Lorazepam for weeks to become a functioning human being again. The weird thing is, although I worried a lot before, I never had an anxiety disorder until then. I really don’t get why she said that, because I talked with other mental health professionals, and they knew me better than her after just five appointments.
60. Hearing Voices
I’m a crisis worker. I was trying to de-escalate a teenaged girl experiencing suicidal ideation. She called her mom, and since I was right beside her, I heard their entire deranged conversation. Her mother was telling her to just do it, that her dad walked out when she was a baby because he didn’t love her, and that she didn’t care about her at all.
I felt completely shocked. Another time, when the girl was having a crisis, I had talked to the mother. She called from work and asked, in the sweetest voice possible, if her daughter was okay and if she could come down and support her. It took all my strength not to go off at that evil woman right then. I met the mother later and could barely look her in the eye.
61. Missing The Point
I finally broke down and told a mental health expert at school about the endless pressures of school, and how I was developing bad anxiety. The response I got was, “Hmm, your grades seem fine to me. You have no reason to worry.” Two months later, my panic attacks got so bad that I began to see a real therapist. Thanks to her, I have now gone two years without another panic attack.
62. Comes In Threes
I had a patient with a ton of personality issues early in my career. He had a very rocky marriage with a lot of infidelity on both sides. We were discussing how this had affected him over the years when he revealed a wild secret. It turns out that he borrowed money from his brother, but couldn’t pay him back. So my client and his wife agreed to go to bed with the brother to settle the debt.
Inside I was like “…what????” but I did my best to control my reaction. I don’t think I was very successful. After that, the patient kept testing my boundaries. Eventually, he went too far and I had to terminate our relationship and refer hm to someone else. But then, a month later, I was working with another patient who was also having self-esteem issues.
I could not believe it when he revealed that he and his wife had a threesome with his brother too. I think I did better at controlling my reaction this time, but what the heck, people!? Two patients in a month? I haven’t had that come up since, but I now still wonder what the prevalence is of people having threesomes with family members and their spouses.
63. Questioning Your Beliefs
I specifically sought out a therapist that had training and specialization in treating ADHD patients. I ended up finding a particular therapist who specified on her website that she specialized in ADHD. So I booked an appointment, and we got to talking. I start talking about how difficult things have been with my ADHD symptoms, and she said, “I actually don’t believe in ADHD. I think it was made up to sell more pills.”
I was completely shocked. In my head, I was thinking to myself, “What? Are you joking? You literally specified on your website that you specialized in ADHD!” Instead of arguing with her though, I just got up and left. I didn’t even pay for the session. The whole entire thing was false advertising at the very least, and was harmful.
64. Stay Out Of The Forest
I was an administrator for a terrible therapist. Most of my job was just scanning files. I came across one file where the patient’s only presenting concern was an absolutely paralyzing fear of squirrels. So, this person came bi-weekly, spent two hundred dollars an hour, all in an effort to correct his squirrel-phobia. That’s when I knew I’d never be a therapist.
65. I Shouldn’t Have Listened
I was pregnant at the time, and my then-husband was, well, not a good person. He called me when I was out of the house asking me to come home. I thought he sounded odd, so I asked a friend to come with me. It turned out he was wasted, which brought out all of his angry, violent tendencies. He ended up firing a gun at me.
He missed, thankfully. The authorities were called, a standoff happened, and it was hours before he was finally taken down. The psychiatrist who treated him afterwards told me not to leave him as he wouldn’t cope. Unfortunately, they did succeed in guilting me into staying, but I got out a few years later and gave my kid an awesome life.
66. Childish Ways
I helped a guy whose chief issue was loneliness. He had no friends, no relationship, standard stuff. But he refused to give any meaningful details about himself. He was 100% just a complete brick wall. I asked him about his hobbies, and he said he didn’t have any. So, I asked if he had past hobbies. He refused to talk about them. He claimed he was bullied by girls about them.
Okay, that’s fair, but I needed something, anything, to go on to get to know him as a person. I spent hours of my life trying to get him to open up about anything, and all he said is, “You won’t get anything out of me.” It was as if he was enjoying it. He did this with other volunteers at my clinic too. He kept complaining about loneliness, but when people tried to be his friend, he shut them out.
Since our sessions were over the phone, I always assumed the guy was either in high school or fresh out. Nope. I was so wrong. He was in his 40s. He was still brooding over high school and refusing help to process and move on from it. I eventually had to ban him because of him guilt tripping our other volunteers. But yeah, he’s the one guy I am genuinely judgemental about. He is the reason his life sucks, and until he stops being obstinate with people extending him help, he will remain that way.
67. Too Beautiful For This World
On my last day in a psych ward, a doctor told me, “You shouldn’t transition. You have so many beautiful feminine features that I personally am very attracted to. You would ruin that!” I was alone with him in a room that could not be opened from the outside without a key. My transition hadn’t even started at that point, and was not the reason I was there at all.
I swiftly left his office, then the hospital. I later learned that this treatment of any queer person was basically the norm there, and my experience was “mild.”
68. The Little Guy
I’ll never forget this one teenage patient. He calmly told me how he physically hurt and tossed around a little kid who lived in the neighborhood for no reason—and with no remorse. He only stopped because he worried that eventually, he’d get in trouble. I had to keep my poker face on and just document the interaction, but my son was in pre-school then, and the entire interaction shook me.
69. You’re On Your Own, Bud!
It was my first psychiatric appointment with this doctor. After talking to him for about five minutes, he said, “You’re smart enough to solve your problems on your own. Once you learn why you are feeling like this, you’re going to be much better.” And just like that, I was dismissed with a Xanax prescription. Dude, if I’m looking for help it’s because I can’t figure out on my own how to stop having panic attacks at work.
70. Cutting Ties
I used to be a professional counselor and worked mainly with children. One of the kids came to me after they tied up a younger child and doused them with gasoline. They never set the other child on fire—but not because they felt bad. It was because they were too young to figure out how to get the lighter to work. They were in an intense outpatient program.
In a week, this patient managed to manipulate the other children into getting in trouble. After one of his schemes, a kid was so badly hurt that they had to be hospitalized. I started searching for a new career that night. I am now a librarian where I get to use the things that I learned in counseling to help the general public with information to get professional help.
71. Boys Need Not Apply
A mental health “professional”—I have a hard time viewing him as such—told me that I couldn’t have male friends. This is apparently because mixed gender relations always mean there are romantic inclinations. Basically, girls and guys CAN’T just be friends, so all my problems were because I didn’t have enough female friends.
I held my tongue and kept myself from asking about how this would work, since bi and gay people exist. Instead, I told him that I was asexual, so it wasn’t like it would matter. He then proceeded to “mansplain” that I wasn’t asexual, because he has had other patients who thought they were asexual, but they all changed their minds eventually.
72. Sugary Sweet
I’m a behavior therapist, and one kid’s mom expressed a lot of concern that her daughter’s health issues might be stemming from diabetes. But then she continued to feed her kid cookies, ice cream, cupcakes, etc. for breakfast. Like if you are that concerned, maybe don’t give her six cookies as a side dish for her Frosted Flakes?
73. Get Yourself Educated!
I think the worst was my therapist telling me I should give up on my career and go back to school again to become a teacher. According to my therapist, teaching was “steady employment.” Nevermind the fact that I had no interest in teaching, and had no financial means to go back to school since I was still buried in debt from my first two degrees. When I brought those points up, I was told I was making excuses.
74. Misguided Confidence
A 20-something said, “You’re going to be proud of me!” one session. She said, “I paid a guy to put sugar in my ex-boyfriend’s motorcycle gas tank.” I said, “What made you think that would make me proud?” She said, “Because, I wanted him to cut his brake lines, but I heard you in my head and knew you’d be disappointed.”
75. Too Much Self Love
My very first therapist ever told me to stop my dieting, and to eat “intuitively.” This meant that I should be eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. If that meant I ended up weighing 300 pounds, then I shouldn’t feel ashamed and I should love myself at whatever size I am. But she had an ulterior motive. Ironically, she was about 350 pounds, and said she recently went horseback riding, or at least she made an attempt to.
She found out real quick that her size prevented her from riding. Most horses really shouldn’t carry more than 200 to 250 pounds, max. So, she wrote a nasty letter to this place, saying they were fat phobic, and should get bigger horses for people her size. I told her this was our LAST session because she was insane. I am very confident and I do love myself no matter my size, but I can still improve and drop the extra weight. There was a lot of self-projection going on with her.
76. Out Of State, Out Of Mind
I worked at a mental health agency and dealt with parents who were involved with child protective services. I had this one couple who needed to complete therapy and do psychological evaluations to prove they could care for their children and give them a safe home. After outlining the plan, the couple refused to do any of it.
Instead, they decided to abandon their children in foster care, move to another state where there wouldn’t be files about them, have some more kids, and start over. And that’s exactly what they did.
77. A Bit Of Puppy Love
One time, I had a therapist who tried very hard to tell me that I definitely wanted to marry my dog. All I told her before that was how I had a very loving relationship with my dog, and how he was my favorite thing in my life at the moment. She then proceeded to go on a 10 minute rant about how she really wanted to marry her dog, and how I also really wanted to marry my dog. Needless to say, I never went back.
78. Getting Lucifer
A guy who was high on a cocktail of substances ran into a staff area, took the fire extinguisher off the wall, and began spraying it into the hallway, filling the place with white foam. Then he started shouting the lyrics to “Sympathy for the Devil.” It upset another patient who was awaiting admission for schizophrenia. He freaked out and started yelling “Satan! Satan is here!” and tried to run out of the front doors.
It’s the most chaotic situation I’ve ever experienced.
79. Worst Than Nails On A Chalkboard
One client bit and ate his fingernails so much that he stored his fingernails in a box, so he could snack on them later. It was nasty, but the patient was only nine, so I figured he’d grow out of it. Nope. Wrong. Then he told me something that made me want to puke. It turns out that when anybody in his family clipped their nails, they put it in his box.
So, when he’s eating nails from the box they could belong to his mother, father, or siblings. Yes, I’ve addressed the parents about enabling this behavior, but they refused to stop. To them, it’s normal.
80. You’re Not My Boss
I was told by my therapist, “You have PTSD. But diagnosing you with that would make you non-deployable and the Army signs my paycheck, not you. I’m diagnosing you with Adjustment Disorder so you can still go to Afghanistan next month.”
81. Ominous Stance
I was working surveillance one night at a psych ward, keeping a close watch on a mentally ill patient. I was briefed before my shift that the patient had eaten one of the lightbulbs and really hurt a nurse. At around five in the morning, he woke up and saw me sitting there at the end of his bed. I said good morning, and he did not reply.
About 15 minutes of silence went by before he stood up, stared out the window, and said, “A person is most vulnerable while taking a dump.” I did not sit back down for the rest of my shift.
82. Keeping An Eye Out
I was working at a mental hospital when the other staff and I heard a loud scream from down the hall. We ran to check on it and saw blood all over a patient’s face and hand.The man had torn his own eyeball out. We tried to diffuse the situation and looked for the eyeball. We could not find it. Eventually, the patient told us where it was. To this day, I wish I didn’t know. It was in his stomach. He had eaten his own eyeball.
83. How To Measure Love
In middle school, I went to my counselor to talk about my mom passing that month. I told her I was really upset that I didn’t see my dad cry. She told me, “Maybe he didn’t love her as much as you thought.” Who says that to a kid?
84. No Glocks Allowed
My client told me his family didn’t appreciate his interests. I asked what they were. He responded by enthusiastically telling me all about his glock collection, then proceeding to tell me that he was always carrying. He then placed one on the table in front of me and asked if that made me nervous. From then on, I made sure to always have access to a door and never put the client between the door and myself again–just to be safe.
85. Not Right At All
I had an adult client who was talking about an 11-year-old girl she knew. She said the girl had told her she was being abused by an older man. Most people would help that poor girl, but not my client. She went on and on about how the girl was flirting with the man. She said she was totally asking for it. She never acknowledged that this girl is 11 years old. She can’t consent to that stuff, never mind initiate it!
Sadly, the client had grown up in a dysfunctional environment and also experienced inappropriate behavior. She seemed to have internalized the idea that if young women are “promiscuous” then they deserve whatever they get. I tried challenging her multiple times, but it was part of a much bigger and more awful intractable framework.
86. Bitter Irony
I’m bipolar and I rapid-cycle, so my mood fluctuates a lot. I called my psychiatric nurse practitioner last summer and told her I was getting depressed again. Her cruel words cut me to my core. When I asked for help, she sighed and irritably said, “Your mood fluctuates too much. Only call me if it’s serious.”
87. Man Oh Man
I ran a men’s anger management group, and some of my clients had done incredibly terrible things to women. But over the weeks and months, I found ways to understand most of the clients, if not ways to rationalize what they had done. But there were two guys who always rubbed me wrong. One basically never spoke up in group. He would give one-word answers and just discuss how unfair the “system” was to him.
I worked really hard to open him up and find things to connect over, but he never opened up to me or the group. I didn’t know how to deal with him, and soon enough I didn’t have to. He left the group—but for an incredibly dark reason. He strangled his girlfriend and was sent behind bars for many years. She survived the attack, thankfully.
The other man left the group early, came in late, participated minimally, and likewise never wanted to open up. After discussing his attendance and saying I couldn’t give him credit if he didn’t stay for the whole session, he threatened my life. Oddly, I eventually moved into the apartment below him, completely without knowing he lived there. I had to listen to him scream at his girlfriend and break things while I called the authorities.
I try not to judge my clients and most of the time, it’s not a problem. In fact, I can usually find ways to admire and respect my clients, despite their past struggles. But not these two. They were just terrible. Maybe they’re redeemable, but redemption requires self-exploration, and both refused to do any the whole time I knew them.
88. Sweet, Sweet Karma
A psychiatrist told my mother that my non-verbal brother was pathetic and sad. He was just four years old at the time. A few years later, the psychiatrist was in the newspaper because he was trying to set up his wife as being mentally incompetent through fake reports, all so she couldn’t get custody of their children.
My mother cut out the news article and wrote, “Who is sad and pathetic now?” Then she sent it to his office.
89. Baby Steps
Early in my career, I had a patient who wanted help reconnecting with his wife, the same woman who shook their baby so hard that the poor infant passed. At the time, I was a young father of a newborn myself, and this patient (and his life choices)…they never really left me. I felt a deep loathing for his spouse and thought his need to keep seeing her was pathetic.
I tried to keep seeing him for three sessions, but after I met his spouse, I knew I couldn’t be their therapist anymore. I ended up handing the case over to my supervisor. It’s the only case I’ve handed off.
90. The Nose Knows
When I was 14 years old, I was telling my shrink about how I was teased in school. “Do they make fun of your nose?” She said. “…nnnno….?” And that’s how I found out I have a big nose.
91. Lost Expenses
I’m a clinical psychologist and the case that has stayed with me over the years goes back to one simple question. I was in a therapy session with a five-year-old girl who said she didn’t want to see one of her parents because they “hadn’t paid child support.” Excuse me? What five-year-old knows, understands, or needs to be worried about child support? Clearly, one of the parents had manipulated their child to detest the other parent.
92. It’ll All Work Out…
I went to see a marriage counselor after my wife and I had separated, and the counselor asked me to fill out a questionnaire. It told me to score how hopeful I was about the marriage working out. I selected a very low number. When he asked me about it, I said that while I felt hopeless about the marriage, I was very motivated to work things out.
I further pointed out the fact that even though my wife moved out, which left me in a real terrible situation at home, I still left work in the middle of the day for the appointment, and was in his office paying full price to find some kind of path to reconciliation. His response was that he 100% understood the difference. But hours later, the horrible truth came out.
Later that day, my wife called me after her one-on-one with him where, according to her, he told her that he didn’t understand why she even came into the office because I was clearly not interested in a future with her. He referenced my response to the “hopefulness” question in his questionnaire. I was beyond furious about that. There has been no other time in my life where I wanted to punch an old man.
93. Childhood Horrors
When I was 8, I went to a children’s therapist. She liked using puppets, despite both me and my mother saying they creeped me out, so much so that I actually had a kind of phobia about them. While I was in one session, said she was trying to help me not bottle things up, so she would push and push and push, asking more invasive questions that I felt uncomfortable answering.
On our fourth or fifth session, she got particularly frustrated with me not answering her nosey questions and, for the first time, I began to cry during the session. This made her even angrier. Then she did the worst thing ever. Instead of comforting me, she started talking to one of her puppets. “Ignore her. Don’t talk to her. She’s just attention seeking,” she said to the puppet.
Then she made the puppet say, “I won’t be your friend if all you do is cry.” To make things worse, I got sent to her in the first place because I had been severely depressed ever since my parents divorced. My teachers were concerned because I didn’t have any friends, and I had recently started getting overstimulated or overwhelmed and crying in class. So to say she didn’t help the situation is probably an understatement.
94. Your Dreams Mean Nothing
So, I had my first episode with psychosis when I was about 13, but I recovered and didn’t need care or medicine. The second time it happened was when I was 16, and it was so much worse. I saw a psychiatrist at my local health department; my parents had no money so this was all we could afford. This “doctor” specialized in mental health for teenagers.
He even had an article in the local paper once a week. For a bit more background, I had always been overweight, but still, I always aspired to be an actor. Well, in less than an hour, he completely took all my confidence and dreams away. I looked up to and trusted my elders, so I thought this man knew what he was talking about.
Not to mention that I was extremely vulnerable at the time. He said, “You know, most actors and actresses are slim and attractive.” Then he asked me, “Are you ordinary or extraordinary?” He even wrote it on a piece of paper, and circled the word “extra.” “Most people are just ordinary, not special. It’s okay to just be one of those people.”
I never really got over that, and I’m 43 now. I figured if I can’t handle my senior year of high school and I had a nervous breakdown, how could I ever handle Hollywood or New York? A doctor’s responsibility is to help their patients heal. This guy cut a wound in me so deep it still hasn’t healed at all. I’m sure he said more messed up things to me in that session but I don’t remember because of those two things.
95. Patience in an Emergency
I didn’t get to go see my therapist for almost a year because I was extraordinarily sick, moved, and injured myself while moving to the point that I had surgery. I called to make an appointment and they said that since it had been over a year they had dropped me as a patient. Ok. So do I fill out new patient paperwork again?
Well, she’s not accepting new patients right now. Ok, so can I see a different therapist because I’m seriously having some problems—they’ve got like 20 of them in the same clinic. Well, since you’re established with her and you have a rapport built up with her we don’t want to switch you to a new therapist. You could try calling back next month, but just so you know she’s booking four to six months out.
At this point I get angry and say, “Ok so I’m calling you guys because I’m having major issues. What if I was having suicidal thoughts? Are you going to tell a person with suicidal thoughts that they can’t see a different therapist since theirs is booked till May?” And that’s when she hung up on me. I called back and said, “Hey, I think we got disconnected” and then, the worst possible thing happened. This women hung up on me again.
So yeah, a mental health clinic that hangs up on people that have a history of suicidal tendencies and are asking for help gets my vote.
96. A Not-So Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
During my student placement in a psychiatric hospital, I was once tasked with teaching an ax murderer how to relax. I knew something wasn’t right when he started casually telling me the story of how he killed his next-door neighbor for ringing the doorbell.
97. In My Professional Opinion, You Suck
A colleague of mine whined about her job 24/7. She quit eventually, then she went to see a psychiatrist, because she needed to feel justified that quitting her job meant she had no regrets and she was actually mentally ill and couldn’t cope, since it was a residency program in one of the best hospitals in the country.
Her psychiatrist, after evaluating her, had the best response ever. She straight up told her that she was a whiny brat.
98. Twin Therapy
I’m a psychologist, and I did my year-long internship at a university counseling center. While we normally only saw clients for about twelve sessions, we were allowed to have one longer-term client to give us more experience. Mine ended up being this wonderful young woman who was deeply depressed. She was an identical twin.
Sessions were slow going at first and there were a lot of tears. She worked through a lot and she was much better by the end of our 10 months working together. My supervisor and I talked about her frequently and she watched tapes of our sessions. The next year I was on my post-doc and I got a call from my former supervisor who had just started seeing my client’s twin in private practice.
The mother of the two twins, not knowing who my supervisor was, started talking to her about how her other daughter had gone to therapy and how her therapist had changed her life for the better. My supervisor called me to tell me this because we don’t get to hear that very often.
99. Baby’s First Attempted Chemical Lobotomy
So, I’m a therapist and I work with kids. Worst misdiagnosis was a family with a two-week-old who was convinced the baby had 1) anxiety—because he cries, 2) autism—little eye contact, and 3) bipolar disorder—because the baby would seem content then suddenly angry. I spent HOURS explaining child development, what these diagnoses mean, how they would present in kids.
I provided them with books, handouts, etc. They insisted on going to see my co-worker and a psychiatrist as I was surely lying to them. Even after meeting with the other two professionals, they still weren’t convinced. They requested psych meds from the doc.
100. Figuring Out Why
I had a very troubled patient who was consensually sleeping with her own uncle. These were very wealthy, high-society type people. During our one-hour intake appointment, she went very in-depth about the relationship. It was the longest hour of my life. I’m taught not to judge my clients, but…that session weirded me out.
101. Minors Must Be Accompanied
I was halfway through a counseling session with a couple with a four-month-old baby. I asked about the baby, and the mom said, “She’s in bed at home.” I said, “Ah, grandparents babysitting?” The dad went, “No, she is at home alone. Nothing can happen to her. We bought a special mattress. One where she can’t suffocate.”
At this point, my jaw was on the floor, and I was just staring at them for a couple of seconds. Then I asked how long it took them to get here. They told me about 15 minutes, so I said, “Alright, the session’s over. I want you guys to go home immediately and call me when you arrive. Please hurry. And never ever leave your baby alone!”
102. Never An Option
As the situation worsened here in the US, one of my most extroverted clients and I brainstormed ways to meet her social needs while remaining safe. Then she tested positive for Corona after sleeping with a group of people, which definitely wasn’t one of our ideas. I let out the deepest, most defeated sigh after I hung up the phone and ended that session.
Sources: 1, 2