I’m not sure how often this happens nowadays. My guess is that private practice therapists do it more, since ones that work for clinics and institutions get more supervision. But working for a large institution means the hierarchy makes for more workplace stress.
This woman had a day job working for a hospital. Her private practice was at home. She’d work hard all day then come home and see three or four patients. I know her hospital position paid well, as she was one of the top dogs there. She didn’t need that private practice. I think it was too much for her.
Our first session was decent. You guys know how it is, when a therapist puts on their best show during that first session. My previous one was leaving and while you could say I “chose” to see this next one, I didn’t really. My previous therapist referred me to the only two she could find, and one said no before she ever met me. So I went with the one I was left with. I wasn’t worried. I had no reason to do so. I was glad to be switching after five years with the other one going nowhere.
As I said, the first session with G was fine. Then, once I was stuck with her, I noticed she was completely self-absorbed. I don’t know how else to put it. During the second session I tried to tell her something I felt emotional about, and immediately she told me a long story about her grandmother. Okay…..I didn’t see the point of what she was saying. There wasn’t one. But I let it slide.
Next thing I knew, G was sharing all sorts of details about her nieces with me. I sat there and listened politely. I asked myself if this was really therapy. I’d say starting the third session, she began to nod off during the appointment. I’d had another therapist who slept through our sessions as well. But there was a difference. Elsa Ronningstam, at McLean, whom I’d seen from 1995 till maybe the end of 1996, literally fell asleep right before me. Her head tilted to the side. Her eyes were closed and I watched as occasionally her head bobbed awake, then she’d fall back asleep. She simply couldn’t stay awake, despite that coffee she always brought in with her. I didn’t like smelling the coffee when she wasn’t even offering me any. I recall the ring that coffee mug made on the saucer. I told myself I didn’t want coffee with cream in it anyway because it was too fattening. I receive no therapy from that woman. But back then I had little choice, because Ronningstam was one of the few who had openings (wonder why?).
G didn’t nod off the same way. She never fell completely asleep the way Ronningstam did. I’d watch G’s head fall to the side, then, rather quickly, she’d jerk it up again. If I had to count how many times per session this occurred, I’d say at least once per minute for most of the hour, almost always happening while I was speaking. I finally confronted her about it. She apologized and said her day job had been busy. I told her to go get coffee. She did. I’ll give G credit for offering me some, too. Another time I confronted her about falling asleep, she said, rather sleepily, that it was hard to stay interested in what I was saying.
I figured maybe she needed to talk. She sure did! She related confidential information about her other patients to me, both hospital patients and those she saw in her home practice. I told her I found this offensive, and also it wasn’t ethical, never mind legal. She promised to stop, but kept right at it again in the next session.
I don’t know why, but I don’t particularly feel upset about all that happened. I believe G had a good heart and good intentions. Her mind wasn’t on her job, that’s for sure. Also, she injured her knee during all this, had surgery, and then told me the surgery hadn’t gone well. She could barely walk before the surgery, nor after. She was super overweight, too, and complained about that to me as well. Then, she followed this with more yapping about her nieces. Perhaps her life was a mess, but I was tired of being her therapist.
I was shocked the day she told me a long song and dance about a former patient. She said the patient had died. I watched in disbelief as she began to shed tears. What was I supposed to do then? Hand her Kleenex? The patient had died of cancer. I was sure glad it wasn’t suicide.
It all would have been fine if she were my friend, but no, she was a bona fide social worker and my insurance was paying her to “treat” me. One thing about this ordeal was that when she took me on, she saw me as an “easy” patient, someone with good attendance who wasn’t going to make things messy for her. My attendance began to slide, however, as the months wore on. I don’t blame myself for that. Why wasn’t she paying me?
I recall speaking to therapist friends about how they liked having “easy” patients who wouldn’t turn into management jobs. They didn’t like the management part, they wanted to do hard core therapy. That would be using their training to the fullest extent, they explained. One person told me that being asked to do management was an insult, and she was looking for a new job. That seemed understandable to me. But honestly, I think G took me on because she didn’t want to work. Or so she saw it.
I knew she was capable of being a strong advocate when she felt the urge. However, she never listened to me. Why listen to an “easy” patient who should be “maintained” only?
I figured much the same. I couldn’t stand the sessions anymore, but I told myself, “I will put up with this. No harm in it. It doesn’t matter. I guess I’ll ride this out.”
That may have gone on indefinitely. G never said a word when Dr. Pearson rather arbitrarily put me back on Lithium. This was 2008. I had no clue about the damages already done by Lithium. However, I didn’t react well, and couldn’t tolerate even the lowest dose. I told Dr. P over and over that something wasn’t right, but she insisted I had to take Lithium otherwise I’d be “unstable.” That was her favorite buzzword, using fear tactics, telling me I’d end up manic if I didn’t obey.
G sat by and said nothing the whole time. Did she notice or care? I doubt it, since she was too busy talking about those kiddies of hers. Once, she told me all the details of a court case she’d been involved in. I wonder if I can find it all online.
Apparently Newton-Wellesley has had a LOT of trouble. This isn’t the case, but you can see:
I found another case. I’m not posting it. I knew the guy.
Here’s another: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Roberta-Brucker-Newton-Wellesley-Hospital/Newton-Massachusetts-02462/Roberta-Brucker-Newton-Wellesley-Hospital-Healthy-patient-forced-into-acute-psych-ward-aft-232118
I remember the staff this woman mentions. I recall Roberta and a few others. Am I surprised this happened to her? Absolutely not. It happens all the time. Only when I was in there, I figured patients who called attorneys were “delusional.” Why? because the staff told us so. Ah, compliance….
I still haven’t found that historic case G mentioned. The links that follow are other Newton-Wellesley lawsuits.
I found this, but it’s more recent: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Roberta-Brucker-Newton-Wellesley-Hospital/Newton-Massachusetts-02462/Roberta-Brucker-Newton-Wellesley-Hospital-Healthy-patient-forced-into-acute-psych-ward-aft-232118
I can tell you Riverside wasn’t serving Newton very well. I went there for a bit.
Okay, I still haven’t found it, but those of you in the Boston area might find this interesting:
I guess I won’t find that case that G told me about. Here’s an excerpt regarding Sylvia Plath. Of interest.
All this time I assumed it had gotten out into the open. Meanwhile, I’m privy to the info, courtesy G.
In short, this was a case of misdiagnosis. This patient was labeled a whiner and complainer, told what he had was trivial. She WANTED to be hospitalized. Nope, they told her she couldn’t stay, claiming borderline-type dependency. I don’t even think she made it home. I repeat, she clearly told them what was going on. They called her a complainer. I ask if the dismissive attitude of Newton-Wellesley Hospital staff propelled her to actually commit suicide. G told me, “They made a wrong assumption about her. Once a patient is labeled borderline, the staff stop listening.” The family won the case, but that didn’t bring back their daughter.
Either way, I couldn’t find the case. I highly doubt G made it up. Yeah, she was sleepy, but not a person who exaggerated.
Finally, I quit seeing G. I told her I was fed up. While I was preparing to leave, G said, “Oh, but there are so many more things about myself that I have yet to tell you.” These aren’t the exact words. I’d have to think back and recall…but I’m tired now. Shall I nod off?
This was the therapist who apparently was asleep when I told her I’d been raped. She never took notes, and I doubt there were any after that first session. I phoned G in 2009 or maybe 2010. I informed her she didn’t notice when I was raped. I didn’t accuse. I was calling for another reason. She claimed she had destroyed all records of me. I doubt she had any to begin with.
I suppose all this passed her by. The fact that she ignored that I had been raped caused Dr. Pearson, my psychiatrist, to assume it was “nothing.” I recall my argument with her over the lithium, and the fact that she literally lost it when she heard I’d fired G. After that, every time I mentioned the rape to Dr. P, she appeared entirely indifferent. She gave me a blank look, or even changed the subject.
Like it had never happened.
So do you see how all this spiraled into a witch hunt after six years of not being listened to, assumptions that I was fabricating all that had occurred? This is the story of something that never should have happened, but did. I was that “easy patient,” that completely compliant case, that ended up all wrong. I am so glad i broke free.