I was working at a counselling agency and my manager offered me personal counselling. He did this with other members of staff so it seemed okay. He knew how to groom some us by giving us responsibility, helping us to build our own private practice etc. This doesn’t sound out of the ordinary and its hard to explain but he made me feel special and he is a very good counsellor when he works ethically and has helped me a lot with some really deep issues. So I felt beholden to him as some of them I had been wrestling with for years. His empathy, softness and kindness is second to none. I felt really respected and safe with him to explore some really emotionally painful memories.
I have had a sexual issue for years, it played a big part in the break up of my marriage. While I was working with him in personal therapy, my relationship with my partner was going through sexual difficulties. My therapist told me he could help by offering his body and working at physically sexual level. I really didn’t like the sound of it but he was really persuasive and another counsellor, whom I believe had already had that form of therapy with him, also tried to persuade me by saying it had really helped her. She was so grateful as it had really helped her to shift a lot that she was holding in her body. Between the two of them they convinced me which I have really struggled with since, I felt I allowed the abuse to happen so effectively I abused myself. Within the therapy room we both took our clothes off and embraced each other as instructed by him. I didn’t feel comfortable so he said “Let’s get down on the big cushions” that he had on the floor. As he started to feel my breast I couldn’t take any more and told him I had to stop. I got dressed and I left. I even apologised for not being able to participate. I look back now and I am so angry with him and what’s worse myself. I then went outside of town for personal therapy. I knew I didn’t want to go to anyone that was connected to the agency or the therapist. It was in this therapy that I had the space to explore why I allowed this to happen, having lost one major relationship in my life due to my sexual issue and now I am with a man who I really do love and had a fear of losing. Then somebody offers you a way out of course it’s hard to say no. The ironic thing is it was my issue that also saved me from going any further.
It was at this point my therapist’s unconditional positive regard disappeared along with his kindness and I didn’t feel special anymore instead I was faced with rejection and isolation. I took it supervision with him and said that I felt I was being rejected by him, I would walk into the office at the agency and he didn’t even acknowledge me. He tried to turn it around and said how he felt rejected by me. I was so shocked by this as he was the therapist, I was the client and I stated to him how the counselling process works and how we encourage our clients to do what they feel is right for them not what is right for us. It should be client focused not therapist. Of course he tried to continually say how he felt hurt and rejected, trying to turn the guilt back onto me, luckily I am an experienced counsellor as this could have devastating effect on a trainee counsellor or more vulnerable client, who could see him as a teacher, someone to look up to, he must be right, he has years of experience.
Over the following months his behaviour towards me nearly did cause me to leave but I stayed not only for the sake of my clients but also because I knew he would do this again to someone else and I knew if I just hung on in there this would all come out in the open and I could help save others by being part of a group. I felt if I had tried to challenge him on my own he would have made mince meat of me. My issue has actually got worse since my experience as I now know its all around trust and my trust being abused but luckily I do have a lovely compassionate partner and as much as he told me “my partner was the last person I should trust” I do and even remembering he said that makes me cringe.