Sexual Abuse by Therapist
I had a client today who made me feel both depressed and angry. This young woman came in, and when she settled down in the chair, I asked her "and what would you like to have happen?".
She said, "I just want to be happy". This wasn't really something I could work with, so I tried probing a bit more.
"So what is making you unhappy?" "I don't know."
Okay, not a great start. I decided to broaden the scope, and asked her "if you could change only one thing in your life what would that one thing be?".
She thought about it for a while, and then said "I don't really know".
We were getting nowhere. So I asked her "what is the most important thing in your life?"
She didn't answer. Instead, her face crumpled and she began weeping quietly.
Testing for depression
Anyone who sits in my chair crying, most likely has depression of some sort. So I did the standard test for depression and sure enough, she fitted into many of the categories. We discussed the symptoms, when this had started, and what she had done about it.
She said, "I went to see a couple of counsellors, I don't think they helped".
I asked, "and did the counsellors say about what was causing you to be unhappy?".
She looked away, and mumbled something. I said to her, "sorry I didn't hear that, what was it you said?".
Once again she spoke very quietly and the only word I could make out was 'interference".
Sexual abuse by therapist
So I said "Interference? Interference with what?"
She looked deeply embarrassed. I realized what she was trying to tell me. "Are we talking about sexual abuse here?"
She nodded, and look miserable. I asked her very gently "when did this happen?".
She said, "I don't know. I don't remember it."
I asked, "how do you know you were sexually abused if you don't remember it?".
He said, "I was so unhappy, I went to see a counsellor at the Sally Ann, and she couldn't find any reason why I was so unhappy. She said that if I was unhappy and didn't know why, that meant I had been sexually abused. I told her that I didn't think I had been sexually abused, but she insisted that I must've been. There was no other reason why would be so unhappy."
I asked, "and what happened next?".
She said, "I didn't feel comfortable with that first counsellor, so I went to the local office of Rape Crisis. The counsellor I saw there also told me that I had been sexually abused. But I have actually no memory of it. I didn't go back to her either. "
Phantom sexual abuse
After listening to her story I actually felt very annoyed. I felt quite incredulous that counsellors are still insisting to women that they must have been sexually abused when they can find no other reason for that woman feeling unhappy. The fact that she got the same story from two different counsellors this made me feel depressed. I live through the whole sexual abuse hysteria.
In the 1990s There was a whole industry devoted to persuading women that there had been sexually abused by family members. There were books published on how to tell if you had been abused even if you had absolutely no recollection of it, and no reason to suppose you might have been.
Families were broken up, lives were ruined, innocent men went to jail, the whole thing developed until it got to such a ridiculous level at the whole thing was seen for what it was. A type of mass hysteria. And here it is, alive and well in my area, years after I thought it had all been put away and forgotten about.
As far as I'm concerned, this is just another instance of sexual abuse by therapists. The damage they do to vulnerable women is just as bad as actual sexual abuse.
He is highly regarded in the hypnotherapy community. He is Vice President of the New Zealand Association of Professional Hypnotherapists (NZAPH).
He is regularly consulted for advice by other hypnotherapists around the world. He is known for the quality of his published scripts. He presents at international conferences and has published on hypnosis and advanced hypnotherapy.
He lives in Wellington New Zealand with his wife Trish and a cat called Parsnip.