Good evening, or morning, whatever. A commenter posed a question, and I know the “comments” on this site aren’t all that visible on this site, so I thought I’d copy my answer onto a post. I ended up writing one helluva long answer.
I am so glad that you wrote. Your question is a difficult one to answer given that there are many types of therapists out there. Note I did not say “therapy,” I said, “therapists.”
First of all…process of elimination…there are therapists out there who are simply bad therapists. They shouldn’t be doing therapy, period. Many break the law and a handful need to be dealt with by the law so that they are stripped of their licenses and get a very, very bad legal kick in the pants. I hate prisons and no one belongs in such places but there are therapists who sexually abuse their patients. Usually this sexual abuse is subtle, though, carefully disguised. Then there is the vast amount of psychological abuse. Think: You are scared and vulnerable and in an office for 50 minutes. These people promise salvation. Patients will comply even if they want to stay skinny and not “recover” weight-wise or eating-wise and are treatment resistant. They comply because they do not know what else to do and they want to be happy, loved, and cared for just like all of us. Actually, many people do ditch therapists who are abusive and go elsewhere. Problem is, they have already wasted precious time and resources.
So, given this, we need to get rid of these bad therapists, those that are abusive or too ignorant or not skilled in therapy or not trained properly. Which leaves us with, like, hardly anyone. I have had 18. They run on a spectrum, many spectrums…they were all different.
Ideally, therapists would be TRAINED to respect the patient. We are sacred. We are human beings and if we are well-treated and honored as the adults we are and not infantalized, we are less likely to be deceptive. Children in therapy should be treated as sacred. They should be honored and loved and given all the resources the therapist has to offer so that they can become who they are. We all need to become who we inherently are. We should be treated with kindness. Tough love is fine but if it’s not kind, it’s not love. Therapists should be trained to have boundaries, simply because they are providing a service and getting paid for it, so boundaries are essential. Again, training. Force has no place in therapy or in mental health care, period. Bribery has no place in mental health care. If there needs to be bargaining, it needs to be done between two equals, that is, the therapist must realize that the patient has merit and worth just as much as the therapist. Good listening skills is of course essential. And the therapist has to have intelligence, too. I’ve known a handful who did have training but had low intelligence, so they weren’t of much use to me (as therapists) or to anyone. They need to have good problem-solving ability and sense of logic instead of blindly administering some course of treatment they read about in textbooks. You can go to their websites and read about their wonderful philosophies and promises, but then you go sit in their offices and find out it’s all bullshit.
I have read and looked into organizations run by ex-patients and mental health survivors. These groups, some of them, recommend peer advocacy and peer-based support. It’s a great idea but scares the shit out of me. Like, the idea of getting anything that resembles counseling from someone whom 20 years ago I sat next to in a group? Twenty years ago, I may have sat around with these people discussing our medication side effects and which brand of cigarette is best (we can barely hold the cigarettes because our hands are trembling from our medications)…it makes me shudder. I so badly want to get away from these people who truly held me back and kept me sick just by surrounding me with “group hugs.” I have been to these clubhouses where people are ex-patients and hang out. It was a while back. I was truly bored, just wanted to leave and go do something useful with my brains and time, go learn something in a classroom and discuss something exciting like writing. Instead of the focus being on how sick we were and needed to comply with treatment like unthinking robots, focus was on how to be sick without treatment and recover from the treatment we’d already had. I split the scene.
I do wholeheartedly believe in organizations that focus on securing human rights for patients and blowing away ignorance and discrimination. For many, being active in human rights and equality is key to recovery. For anyone, any human, helping another person will be naturally constructive and healing. You can do this in many, many ways. You can start by not littering.
Um, let’s see…I haven’t even begun to answer your question, have I? It was an excellent question. Instead of combing through the Internet looking for new ways to somehow get myself to throw up (I am still unable) or new ways to starve or new gimmicks to stop bingeing, just promising myself I need to stop spending money on these sick things cuz I’m flat broke, I went looking for therapists on the Internet tonight. Alternative types of treatment centers. None exist for eating disorders but there are some that treat other diseases and promote wellness in new, more respectful, and much more holistic ways. There are places that take in people ravaged by debilitating physical conditions and are near death and these places show respect and love and have crazy ideas the pharmaceutical people don’t want you to know about. Because they are not full of fancy equipment such as MRI machines, these places don’t cost an arm and a leg and in fact cost less than places like Remuda Ranch. I am looking into it. I don’t want to use my credit card unless I’m convinced and of course there are scams out there. There are therapists with radical ideas and new therapies that make a lot of sense to me.
I only want a decent life, which I don’t have right now. My life is intolerable to me. Living itself is intolerable. I don’t feel depressed. That’s not the problem. The problem is that my life sucks and I woke up to the reality of it. Like I’ve just walked away from 31 years in a brainwashing cult called mental health treatment. Hello, world.
It would be very nice not to be suicidal anymore. To want to live. To stop wasting energy and time on making myself die. Stopping this bingeing is the key to solving the suicidality. I suspect I am treatment-resistant, and some sort of exception to the rule that says “binge eating can be resolved with treatment.” This is a secret disorder but through investigation I’ve learned that my own particular binge eating is exceptionally severe. I’m not average. I’m not typical. I’m not what they read about in the textbooks. So no one, really, knows what to do. Even in my search for therapists I’ve done, like a few weeks ago, a lot of the ones I called said they would not take me on even if my insurance covered them. Many said my case was “too advanced.” I do like honesty and if they felt they couldn’t help me, I’m glad they told me upfront.
I think in one month that waiting list will be done and I’ll get a call from a nearby place telling me they have a therapist available. I’m terrified of being sectioned. I can’t even call Dr. P, haven’t even left a message for her, cuz I know she’ll want me hospitalized. Hospitals are not the answer, just a waste of time, waste of a life. So I’m taking a big chance if I do go see this therapist. I guess the first thing I’ll ask the therapist will be “Will therapy help me?” I don’t want to walk in there and break down crying on the first day, even if I very, very much feel on the verge of tears all the time anyway.