Okay, say you are really desperate and you’ve tried everything else and by the time you finally end up in one of these people’s offices you are truly at the end of your rope. I guess a lot of people find themselves in this situation.
Chances are, the therapist will want to know some background information about you. Some therapists spend an entire session on this information-gathering. Save a bit of time and get the insurance numbers and data like that done over the phone, so that the time isn’t wasted doing this in the session. It’s coming out of your pocket, after all.
So right now I see a problem because a desperate person has walked into an office and has spent 50 minutes talking about some dead aunt’s history of heart trouble, while nothing helpful has happened, and the desperate person needs to wait yet another week to…
Cry. This is what most people tell me they do when they start therapy for the first time. They let it all out. Finally there is someone to talk to.
Often, this is all a person needs. Just to let it all out, and move on. Crisis over. Therapy ended. Actually, this was what I expected 32 years ago when I walked into my first therapy session. Guess what?
Maybe this was where all the family history, etc paperwork came in handy. It gives them a chance to size you up in a legal and practical sense. I’m sure that when I first filled out these papers, they were filed away and never looked at even by a secretary. When you go to a doctor’s office, someone who doesn’t already know you, you get three pages at least of papers to fill out. Does anyone look at theses papers? Probably not. But your therapist will dig up the forms real fast when something legal has to be done, so be careful what you write and what you sign. Think about what it means for your therapist to talk to your other providers and your family members. You may or may not want this.
When I first started therapy, what did the therapist see? What did the agency see?
I think these are two separate things, though I am clueless as to how this agency worked back then. My therapist was rather open-minded and listened well. I am wondering if the agency saw some kind of contradiction with the fact that I was a Bennington College student and had come to the county clinic instead of going to the school’s student mental health services. I didn’t fit in with their clientele, according to the stereotype. I was a Bennington Girl, and therefore rich, and on top of that, Jewish. I had gone to the clinic stating that I had no income and very little money to live on. Undoubtedly, they were thinking that if I stuck around, they’d rope my wealthy and unsuspecting parents into the situation.
They tried to do this later on. I left town and came back and returned to the same therapist. Then they switched me to another. This guy was abusive. I wrote about him before on here. He was the one who smoked during our sessions non-stop and belittled me. It was horrible. He insisted that my family drive three hours to have family therapy with him. With this guy? I knew I didn’t feel good about my family, but I wasn’t going to punish them by subjecting them to this guy. My brother is allergic to smoke besides. Also, I was embarrassed to admit to my family that I’d fallen for spending even one session with him because he was clearly incompetent.
So, yeah, the papers. He kicked me out of therapy saying if he couldn’t help me, no one could. Maybe I didn’t need therapy, he said, but he said if I was not willing to get my family involved, forget it. I got worse and worse and ended up at the hospital, more desperate than ever, at the end of my rope. Guess what this agency did? They called my parents, blew my confidentiality and told them I had shown up at the emergency room, and told them to “come bring her home to mommy and daddy where she belongs.” I had not given them permission to contact my parents, nor did they tell me they were going to do this. Actually, I let them know right away that I didn’t want my parents called. I finally managed to fire these people, pointing out that they had broken the law. I believe it was the head doctor who had made the actual call, and he was the one whom I confronted. He admitted fault. They had gotten my parents’ number off of the form I filled out way back when. Emergency contact, I guess.
Of course, the hospital didn’t want to give me free care, which was my right, and so they wanted me out of there, but legally, they had to treat me. I was in pretty bad shape. This was why they played the parents card. Bring her to another hospital, not ours. Some hospital for rich Jewish girls.
And so on.
It’s sad that the health care industry has to size you up in terms of money. This seems to take precedence over getting actual treatment from them.
Another example of this is when I went to a dentist about a year ago. I put on the form that I could get my family to help pay what Medicaid didn’t cover. Huge mistake. I went in to be examined and they said it would be a kazillion dollars, which I said I didn’t have. They said, “Go home and ask your mommy.” This was in 2011 and I was 53 years old. I was pissed.
I phoned back and said I had no intentions of asking my deaf and elderly mother, whom by the way I did not live with, for money like that. I said that I meant “within reason,” like under fifty bucks. These people wanted thousands. I said I would prefer to have the tooth pulled, which is covered under Medicaid. Turns out they had assigned me to the non-Medicaid dentist. Huh?
Be careful what you tell people about family and money because if if they think there is any money lurking around, you will be treated differently and offered a different fee scale and charged differently.
See, this is half the reason I bopped around the mental health system for 32 years. If I’d told them I was an orphan, they would have had me into that first session, and I would have cried, and I would have done that a bunch of times, and maybe all this would be behind me now and forgotten.
And if all that was forgotten, I wouldn’t be here writing this, would I? Wow, we are blessed.