I have had quite the long history with therapists. My parents started taking me to them when I was 4-years old to find out what was “wrong” with me. I met the traumatizing therapist in question when I was in third grade and saw her until I was 23, which in itself turned out to be a warning sign. The interesting part is that I didn’t know how traumatizing she was until I aged out and went to see a new therapist. When I told my new therapist about my treatment, both by my parents and my therapist, she let me know that there were some very abusive behaviors that took place.
The main traumatizing point was that my therapist did nothing to stop my parental abuse. My parents hated my autistic behaviors. They thought that my meltdowns were things I could control, when in fact, they still aren’t things I have any control over. They would lock me in my room during these meltdowns and leave me to cry myself out of it. They also hated when I looked autistic. I wasn’t allowed to stim or pursue what they considered childish activities. Not being able to stim, in fact, caused many of the meltdowns that would lead me into my locked room. They would call me a terrorist. Interestingly enough, 8-year old me wasn’t trying to terrorize or manipulate them. I was just melting down because I was forced to mask to the highest degree, even in the privacy of my own home.
My therapist had a hand in all of this. I would constantly tell her about everything and she would just tell my parents that they were doing the best they could in such a difficult situation. She was the one person who could have stopped this trauma, but she just encouraged them. Even in writing this article, I had PTSD flashbacks because my parents and therapist would tell me that I was always exaggerating things or making them up. Image, for all of them, was the most important thing.
Even through all of this, I think therapy is one of the greatest tools we have. If it was not for my new therapist, I would have thought that all my childhood abuse was normal. Just like everything else in life, there are good experiences and bad experiences. I think one of the most important things to remember about therapy is that you shouldn’t settle. Just because someone is a professional, doesn’t meant that they know what’s best for you. Even being able to talk to trusted friends and family members about what’s going on in your life is a wonderful form of therapy, if you aren’t comfortable seeing a professional. Finding the right person might take a few tries, but when you click, it’s worth it.
First published on The Mighty October 2020