A Survivor’s Story

There are people who come into your life and change it completely—some for better, others for worse. Usually we can tell the angels from the demons. But not always.


I met Dr. T in October 1999. He was not my first psychotherapist. I’d seen several others (mostly women) during my twenties and early thirties in my attempts to deal with issues such as my generally mild depression, my not-always-so-mild self-esteem issues, and what my therapists termed “unresolved grief” stemming from the loss of my mother to cancer when I was 12 and the unexpected death of my father when I was 30. After my dad died in 1995, I started to feel unmoored and my depression increased. Over the next few years, I began to struggle more and more with my relationships, my health, and just about everything else in my life. I needed help. That was when I met Dr. T.

Dr. T was a clinical psychologist with a private practice in Oakland, California. My boyfriend and I were in couples counseling at the time and Dr. T’s name was one of two that my couples therapist gave me when I told her I wanted to go back into individual counseling. She described Dr. T as “spiritual” (the quotation marks being evident in her tone), which at the time sounded like a good thing to me. My relationship with God or any other higher power left something to be desired (losing your mom at a young age will do that to you), and I thought maybe Dr. T could help me with that. I set up an appointment to meet him.

Dr. T turned out to be a pretty cool guy. He appeared to be in his early 40s, wore jeans to the office, and had a great sense of humor and easy-going nature that appealed to me. I wasn’t particularly attracted to him but he was decent-looking and, I assumed, married, since he wore a ring on his left ring finger. I felt comfortable with him and found him relatively easy to talk to. More importantly, he listened to me, wanted to hear what I had to say, and seemed to really understand me. To a woman who had often felt unseen and unheard in her relationships, Dr. T was like a dream come true.

Although I continued to go to couples therapy, Dr. T quickly won all of my loyalty. Whenever I’d complain about something my couples therapist had said, Dr. T came to my defense. His assessments of my issues were generally kinder and much more flattering than hers, and his confidence in his diagnostic skills left me feeling safe and reassured. Clearly, he knew and understood me far better than my couples therapist did. I loved having him on my side.

For about a year, my therapy seemed to go fairly well. I saw Dr. T once a week and enjoyed our sessions, which were often injected with humor and spirituality. (Dr. T was a devotee of Siddha Yoga, a Hindu-based spiritual practice, and the philosophy informed much of our therapeutic conversation.) He seemed to have all the answers to life, love and the universe. I’d developed a deep respect for him and looked up to him as my teacher, spiritual guide, and the older brother I’d always wanted but never had—someone who would guide me, advise me, protect me, and defend my honor.


When my boyfriend and I decided to end our relationship a year into my therapy, Dr. T was supportive and encouraging. He’d met my boyfriend once and thought I could do better. During the breakup, he even suggested that I “transfer my attachment” from my boyfriend onto him. I thought that comment odd and wondered if Dr. T knew what he was saying, but I trusted and respected him and believed he had my best interests at heart. Why would I ever question him?

Within about a week of my breakup, Dr. T introduced physical contact into my therapy. We’d been discussing what might support me in going deeper into my emotions and the subject of physical contact came up. It was through nurturing physical contact that I’d felt loved and comforted when I was a kid, and I’d lost much of that kind of support when my mom died. Dr. T suggested that we could hug at the beginning or end of our sessions as a way of fostering that type of emotional support for me. Perhaps it would help me go more deeply into my issues. Although therapists weren’t really supposed to have physical contact with their patients, he thought that, in my case, we could make an exception and see how it went. And if it worked out all right, then, down the road, maybe we could even spend some session time with him holding me as a form of emotional nurturing and a means of supporting me during grief work. I was thrilled at the prospect. That he would do this for me, for my benefit, felt like an amazing gift of grace. That day, at the end of our session, Dr. T hugged me. I floated out of his office as if I were on Cloud Nine.

After that, we always began or ended our sessions with a hug. Sometimes we did both. After a few months, the hugs got a bit longer, and he even started giving me little kisses—at first on the top of my head, then on my temple, then on my cheek. I felt special, cared for, loved. And I grew more and more attached to Dr. T. Then he decided to try holding me during our sessions. He let me pick the position. We’d sit on the floor against the couch, with him behind me, his arms wrapped around me. It was bliss. I didn’t even mind when his hands would accidentally touch my breasts.

I was thinking about him all the time—not sexually, just as someone who played a big role in my life, a friend I depended on and wanted to see every week. Sometimes, after I’d left him an emotionally distraught voicemail message, he’d call me saying, “Hey, Kansas City”—his nickname for me—“it’s your buddy, Johnny.” He’d tell me what he was up to and joke around with me until I felt better. Often, I’d hang up the phone feeling “lit up.” I was so happy to hear his voice and be deserving of a phone call.

Our contact during my sessions gradually became more intimate, more sexualized, and highly charged. He progressed from “accidentally” touching my breasts to intentionally trying to get me turned on, though he always kept his hands above the waist. Occasionally, he’d experiment with different ways of holding me, some of which were based, apparently, in tantric sex. The positions were beneficial, he said, for moving energy through the system and clearing any blockages. Since I suffered from low back pain, I thought that sounded pretty good.

While some of the things he did felt nice, at other times I found myself spacing out or not feeling anything at all. This often happened when we were sitting on the floor with me straddling him, our pelvises close together (one of his “recommended” positions). I felt confused about the fact that I didn’t feel anything—it seemed like I should—but I felt too embarrassed and uncomfortable to say anything about it. He was doing this for my benefit, and I was worried about saying something that he might regard as negative or ungrateful. I really didn’t want to lose this special attention, and I was careful not to give him any reason to withdraw it.

From time to time he’d remind me that he intended our physical contact to be primarily for therapeutic purposes, not just for pleasure. He didn’t want me to take it for granted. Sometimes he accused me, playfully, of “junking on the hugs.” I loved having him hold me, and the contact was so addictive that I’d become attached to getting my weekly “fix.” But I felt guilty at the thought that I might be taking anything for granted. If he sensed I wasn’t fully appreciating the contact, would he take it away? I felt uncertain about how I should be reacting to all of this.

Often, he’d encourage me to really take in the feeling of his hands on me (whether he was simply holding me or trying to get me turned on) and allow it to sustain me between visits. As he said during one session, “Isn’t it better to walk around feeling aroused than to feel needy and depressed all the time?”

He approached all our contact with nonchalance and calm control. He made all the decisions, judging what was okay, what not, where we could touch, where not, for how long, and how often. There seemed to be no reason for concern. He told me that he loved me and trusted me, and that he wanted me to be happy and feel good. I deserved that, he said, and he wanted to give that to me.

As the contact increased, Dr. T also introduced new themes and topics into our conversations. He’d make flattering comments about my body, compliment my appearance, ask me about my boyfriends and my sexual history, even make off-handed remarks about things we could be doing if not for the therapeutic restrictions. These remarks usually started with “If you and I were to have sex…” and always took me by surprise. I’d stare at him, trying to figure out if he were joking or serious, but I could never read him—his poker face was just too good. So I dismissed the comments and tried not to think about them, even as they kept ringing in my mind.

As things progressed, he tried to get me to take a more active role in our contact. Once he asked me why I didn’t test the limits. Was I afraid of making a mistake? Well, of course I was! I was shy, uncertain, and scared to death that I would fall in love with my therapist. I wanted to know that whatever we did, I’d be safe. Dr. T assured me that he was there for me, that it would be okay for me to push the envelope, let go, surrender to whatever feelings I might be having. Of course there would be a net to catch me if I fell. Besides, what could be wrong with feelings of love? Why not just enjoy them?

Dr. T did want me to understand that, whatever we chose to do, we would never date or have an outside relationship. And since he was breaking the rules and could lose his license if anyone found out what we were doing, we had to be careful. He hoped that he was making the right decision and that I would benefit from this approach he was taking. Should it turn out that I couldn’t handle the parameters of the more intimate relationship, we’d simply go back to a “normal” (i.e. contact-free) therapeutic relationship. But as long as I could deal with it, why not let ourselves have this gift?

That he would go so far for me and take these risks on my behalf made me feel very grateful and very loyal. I wanted to protect him and prove my worthiness, and I happily took on the responsibility of safeguarding our relationship. That included being careful about my own emotional responses. I couldn’t bear to lose this intimacy, this privilege—I needed to show him that I could handle whatever we did, no matter what happened.

It took him about six and a half months to progress from simple hugs to sexual intercourse. Because of the way he gradually introduced more and more contact over time, progressing to the next step never seemed like much of a leap. Often, it felt easy, natural. Between the physical contact, which I’d become addicted to, and my adoration of him, I was willing to do pretty much anything he suggested. I was hooked. I loved him. And even though I refused to think about sex, I was desperate to kiss him. So, when one Thursday he asked me (as he held me in his arms) what I wanted, I told him I wanted to kiss. Really kiss. So we did. And we spent the rest of the session making out. Then he left town for the weekend. And I freaked out at home.

Imagine that you’ve just made out with your therapist, whom you’re desperately trying not to fall in love with. And he leaves town and you have no one to talk to. After all, I couldn’t tell—that was forbidden! I had to somehow deal with this on my own. I spent the weekend feeling alternately high and absolutely panicked. What the heck was going to happen at our next session?? Would we kiss again? Would he say it had been a mistake? I felt like my life (and my sanity) was completely on hold until he returned. But one thing had shifted for me. Despite my refusal to think about sex or take his sexual suggestions seriously, that the two of us would, in fact, have sex now seemed inevitable.

Due to his out-of-town trip, our next session was scheduled not for my usual Monday mid-afternoon time but for early Tuesday evening—his last appointment of the day. I knew something was going to happen. We’d kissed and— Well, that was a big deal. I tried to prepare myself for whatever the evening would hold.

When I arrived, we basically picked up where we’d left off the week before. There was no therapy. There was only kissing and him saying he wanted to see me and me taking off my clothes and lots of rolling around on the floor. And then he asked if he could be inside of me.

I remember turning my face away because I didn’t want to answer him. Even after all that had happened, I did not want to have sex with my therapist. I knew it would change everything. I knew that if we had sex I’d fall totally in love with him and I was terrified of that. Not only was the man my therapist, he was married. Even though he claimed that he and his wife had “an arrangement,” he and I could never be together. What would become of me if I fell in love with him? I didn’t want to have sex with him. But I didn’t know how to say no. And I didn’t want to have to say no. After all he’d done for me, I felt so grateful to him. I loved him. I wanted him to be happy. How could I refuse him the one thing he asked of me?

Instead of answering, I shied away and tried to communicate with body language what I couldn’t say with words. I desperately hoped he’d take the hint. He seemed to, for a while, and we continued kissing and rolling around. And then he asked again if he could be inside me. Just for a little while, he said. If I didn’t like it he’d stop. He’d do whatever I wanted if he could please be inside of me.

Oh my god, he’d asked again! Now I’d have to say something. My brain got fuzzy and I started to feel panicked. I couldn’t think what to do.

I don’t remember whether I whispered yes or nodded inarticulately, but I didn’t say no. I didn’t know how to.

I did hope that he’d pull out a condom. He didn’t. I made some garbled attempt to say something about being safe, and he laughed and said that he’d been in a monogamous relationship not having sex and I was six months out of a monogamous relationship not having sex, so that seemed safe enough to him.

I don’t remember what the sex felt like. I don’t think I was actually in my body at the time. I just know that we didn’t do it for very long. Maybe he could tell I was freaked out and decided to stop. Maybe he looked at the time and realized he needed to get home to his wife and kids.

I left his office feeling completely spaced out, with a funny energy coursing through my body. I felt like I’d been given an incredible gift. This man whom I adored had chosen me. I felt a new sense of loyalty and responsibility toward him I hadn’t felt before.

And so it began.


For the next few years we had regular sexual contact, about once a week unless he was out of town. We had sex at his office during paid therapy sessions, at my home, eventually at his home, and also during a couple of out-of-town trips. The sex tapered off after about three years, but still occurred on a semi-regular basis, always at his prompting.

He took full payment for every therapy session, even when we spent the better part of the time engaged in sexual activity. He even took payment for “house calls,” when he’d come to my home during an extended break in his work schedule, for maybe half an hour of “talk therapy” followed by sex. He told me that our sexual relationship could be helpful as a vehicle for my working through issues such as grief and abandonment and could benefit me physically by helping to release those areas of tension and bound energy. He also claimed that he could transmit spiritual energy (shakti) through sex, and that our sexual activity could be spiritually empowering—primarily for him but also for me, according to his particular beliefs.

Despite our sexual relationship, Dr. T continually reminded me that he was, first and foremost, my therapist, and anything else was secondary to that. We would never date or have an outside, public relationship. He fully expected me to bring any issues about what he called our “extracurricular relationship” into therapy for discussion; that was part of the idea. He advised me that if he thought that I couldn’t handle this special relationship, his inclination would be to discontinue the sexual contact and return to simply being therapist and (not-so-special) patient.

He was very clear that what he was doing was a violation of the rules and the code of ethics. His position seemed to be that since the professional code of ethics had been determined by a group of people who had no relationship to him or his practice and did not share his values and belief system, why should he be bound by it? Wasn’t he in a better position to judge what would and would not work for his patients? Shouldn’t he be able to create his own rules according to his own personal ethics and values? As Dr. T liked to quote to me from a poem by Rumi: “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”

By making sure that I understood the risks he was taking for my benefit, Dr. T entrusted me with the safety and security of the relationship. I felt so completely loyal to him that I never considered betraying his trust. I was incredibly grateful to him for allowing me to have this “gift,” and all I wanted to do was make him happy and give him whatever he wanted. I was absolutely content to be his loyal and devoted servant. I could never do anything to hurt him. I literally prayed that no one would be harmed as a result of our involvement, and that if harm were to come to anyone, it should come to me. Since I believed he was doing this for my benefit, I thought I should be the one to bear any burdens.

Despite my love and adoration of Dr. T, my experience of the sex itself was far from magical. I had expected that having sex with him would be amazing, since I had such strong feelings for him and our connection had what I believed to be spiritual component. But Dr. T was not exactly a “tender” lover. In fact, he was a bit more aggressive than I was used to and preferred positions that often left me feeling emotionally disconnected. He also liked to “talk dirty” during sex, which left me feeling uncomfortable and even more confused. I couldn’t understand it; he spoke with such reverence about love and spirituality—I was expecting his “lovemaking” to have a much more loving and spiritual quality to it. Instead, it was very raw. In fact, sometimes he seemed rather angry—almost like he was taking something out on me. I kept hoping that if I showed him all the love and care I could and gave him everything he wanted, he would respond in kind. He didn’t. And whenever I dared to question his intent, he insisted that the sex was truly about love and acted as if I’d hurt his feelings by suggesting otherwise. So I learned to simply accept the way he treated me, whatever he did or said. I wanted to believe him and didn’t feel comfortable questioning him. I had become completely attached to him and was desperate to preserve the connection. I couldn’t risk his displeasure or disapproval.

During sex, I tuned out of myself and into him. I wanted to please him, and I was far more plugged into whatever experience he seemed to be having than my own. I didn’t care about my own pleasure; everything was about him. If he was happy, I was happy. If he was turned on, I was turned on. I started to think of myself as “the king’s consort,” whose primary role was to attend to his pleasure—and I was thrilled to do that for him.

The only time I felt any sense of power and control in our relationship was when we were having sex. I knew what turned him on, what he liked, and that gave me a reasonably assured way of making him happy and gaining his approval. This provided the only real sense of security I had in our relationship, aside from paying him for sessions. But even there I sought his permission. I never felt comfortable initiating sexual contact. I didn’t want to be wrong or make a mistake. I was too afraid of being rejected or making a fool of myself. I could offer myself to him, but it was up to him to choose whether he wanted me or not. I always deferred to him and let him take the lead.

After any sexual contact, I usually felt spaced out and “floaty.” At the time, I simply thought I was “blissed out” on our lovemaking. It never occurred to me I might be dissociating. My out-of-body state masked any feelings of pain, discomfort, or distress so that everything looked perfectly rosy, no matter what happened, no matter what he did.

Although for the next few years we spent many evenings engaged in sexual activity, we rarely spent the whole night together. That was a good thing. On the few occasions we did (mostly on out-of-town trips), I found it impossible to sleep. When I lay next to him, my whole body buzzed with energy—I felt like a live wire. No matter what I did, I simply could not settle down and go to sleep. I was aware not only of all the energy coursing through my body but also of every little sound or movement in my environment. Despite the “privilege” of having Dr. T with me for the entire night, I inevitably paid the price in sleep.


Sex was not the only “service” I provided for Dr. T. A couple of months into our sexual relationship, Dr. T suggested that he come and get a massage from me. I had become certified in Swedish/Esalen massage the year before and Dr. T knew I was interested in starting a practice. I said yes, of course, even though the thought of giving him a massage was terrifying. I didn’t have much experience and I really wanted to be able to do a good job. What would I do if he didn’t like it?! I’d feel mortified! So when he came over, I did everything I could to give him a good massage—and completely drained myself in the process. But it worked—he liked it. And for the next few years Dr. T became a regular massage “client.” He’d come to my home, pay me my low “friends and family rate” for a one-hour massage, and I’d work on him for 1¼ to 1½ hours, doing whatever I could to please him. (That usually included providing sex, too, either before or after the massage.) Often, after the massage (and the sex), Dr. T would ask to use my phone to call his wife and let her know when he would be coming home. I felt strange that he was calling his wife from my home, but at the same time I felt like his caretaker, so I indulged him in whatever he wanted.

Dr. T also extended my massage services to his family and friends, referring them to me when they were in town or gifting them with massages. He never introduced me by my given name  (my middle name, which I’ve gone by since birth), since he was concerned about people finding out I was his patient. Instead, he introduced me by my first name—a name I’ve never used or particularly cared for. I hated that he didn’t ask me whether it was all right for him to call me by that name. I thought that he could at least have let me come up with my own alias, something I liked. But I never challenged him on that and simply went along with his program, letting people think I was someone other than who I was.

I did other work for Dr. T as well. I helped him with the billing for his insurance clients for a couple of months, and later on (in 2004) I started doing some research for him for a book he wanted to write. Around the end of 2004, he hit on the idea of having me help him draft psychological reports for his INS (Insurance and Naturalization Service) clients. He proposed that this could be a very lucrative endeavor for the both of us. He was paid a lot of money for the reports, and he thought that with my help he would be able to do a lot more of them. He saw this as a possible long-term business venture for the two of us.

Dr. T even paid me to take some online courses for him for the continuing education units he needed for his 2005 license renewal. His renewal deadline was only a few weeks away and he did not have the required number of CEUs. He’d found an online provider that offered short, simple, online classes, and he offered to pay me for doing this easy work for him. One of these classes happened to be the then mandatory Ethics course. He seemed particularly interested in my taking that class for him—as if he wanted me to fully understand that our relationship was a violation of the ethics code and that he was risking a lot by being involved with me. I felt hurt by his reminder of the therapist-patient relationship; it was as if he were putting me in my place, reminding me of my “less-than” status. I did my best to block this out of my mind and to focus instead on helping him out. Of course, I would be happy to do whatever he needed. Although most of the classes he had chosen were very easy for me, one of them needed to be completed by someone who had actual training in psychology. (Imagine!) When I told Dr. T that my understanding of the material was insufficient for me to be able to complete that class for him, he got angry at me for “backing out” of our arrangement, since it meant that now he’d have to take the time to do it himself.

In addition to the paid work, I provided a variety of personal services for Dr. T as well. I chauffeured him around quite a bit, often giving him rides to and from the airport, and provided companionship when he needed it. The few out-of-town trips we took were generally centered around his personal needs, and the arrangement usually went something like this: He’d mention to me that he was “going on retreat” and extend to me an invitation to join him—with the understanding that this was his time to get what he needed. If that was okay with me, then I could come along. Of course, I was thrilled to be asked at all, so I always said yes to whatever he wanted. Often, this involved being his driver. For the first trip we took, to a hot springs a couple of hours away, the arrangement was that if I drove and brought my massage table and gave him a massage every day, he would cover the costs. (This proved to be primarily the cost of meals and gas, since he paid for a room for one person and then snuck me in.) He also made it clear that if we ran into anyone he knew, I would need to make myself scarce —we could not be perceived as being there together. Similar arrangements applied to our other trips as well. For our last trip together, which was for New Years, he wanted me to drive separately to our destination (over two hours away); that way we could spend New Years Eve together, and then I would leave, allowing him to spend the rest of the time alone for his personal retreat. (Seems fair, doesn’t it?)

In the last year of our involvement, Dr. T relaxed the boundaries even further by enlisting me to help him with his two young children. Dr. T and his wife were recently divorced (for reasons not related to his involvement with me, to the best of my knowledge), and due to their shared custody, he was needing to manage a few days a week of single parenthood. One day he asked if I would watch his youngest so that he could go to the gym. Of course I said yes. And so, when he needed a babysitter or some help with the kids, he called me. I very much enjoyed spending time with his children. But again, due to his concern that one of them might use my name with someone who could identify me as a patient (like his now ex-wife), he decided I should go by an alias. At least this time he allowed me to choose my own.

Sometimes, after inviting me over to help with the kids, he’d put them to bed, pretend that I’d left, and then sneak me into his bedroom for sex. I always felt incredibly nervous about being there with his kids asleep down the hall. What would happen if one of them walked in? This never seemed to bother him at all. As always, I simply went along with his wishes and tried not to think about possible consequences. (Although I understand that Dr. T is fully responsible for his actions, I deeply regret that I took part in his betrayal of his family and friends. Because I was unable to say no to him, I ended up doing many things for him for which I now feel great remorse.)

For the most part, whenever Dr. T asked me to do something for him, I’d say yes. Mostly because I wanted to please him and make him happy, but also because it was very difficult to say no to him. He certainly didn’t make it easy. It seemed that in his thinking, if I were available at all, then I should be available to him. Whenever I claimed to have other plans, he would grill me about them, trying to find an opening that would allow me to attend to his needs. If I tried to say no, he did his best to make me feel guilty for not being available to him, for not putting his needs before mine. He could be very dismissive and belittling of my plans and needs. Clearly if I could take care of him I should. Whenever there was something I didn’t want to do for him, I would go out of my way to avoid talking to him since he was just so good at manipulating our conversations.


Spirituality played a big part in my relationship with Dr. T, who was a devotee of Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, the guru and spiritual leader of Siddha Yoga. He often used teachings from Siddha Yoga and Eastern philosophy in our therapy, responding to my depression and existential angst with pithy remarks that left me feeling like I should be much more enlightened and evolved than I actually was. He regularly recommended books by Gurumayi and Swami Muktananda (her predecessor) and by more “new age” teachers such as Caroline Myss. He was big on subjects that had to do with taking responsibility for one’s choices, letting go of “toxic” emotions, and thinking happy thoughts. (As he said, “Why would you want to think anything that didn’t make you feel good?”) He made it all sound easy—which made me feel that much worse for feeling bad or depressed. I remember him saying to me once, “No one wants to be around someone who’s depressed,” as if I had the power to simply turn off my depression and be happy.

He spoke reverently of Gurumayi, saying that he owed her his life. I had never known anyone with that kind of devotion before and it was both intriguing and attractive. Dr. T seemed to be plugged into a mystical realm where a transmission of energy from the Guru (called shaktipat) could turn your life around and heal whatever ailed you. I looked up to Dr. T and thought that maybe what worked for him would work for me, too. So I gradually became more and more involved with Siddha Yoga. I chanted the mantra he taught me, prayed to the Guru, did seva (“selfless service”) by volunteering in the bookstore/gift shop at the local ashram, attended expensive meditation retreats, and purchased many Siddha Yoga books, CDs, and videos as well as pricey gemstone malas and prayer beads. (I guess I thought it would all help me become more “spiritual.”) Occasionally, Dr. T took advantage of my role at the bookstore by having me purchase things for him, including gifts for his wife. While I felt really strange buying things for him to give to his wife, I reassured myself that I was helping him out and that it was the “loving” thing to do.

Occasionally, Dr. T would tell me about his experiences with Gurumayi, whom he referred to as a “wish-fulfilling tree.” I got the impression that he had a genuine connection with her—that he was somehow “favored.” Because of this, I imagined that she knew (in some spiritually omniscient way) about our “union” and sanctioned it. Surely our relationship was meant to be. Even though we would never be together in the traditional boyfriend-girlfriend sense, what we had was different, special, spiritual. I felt very privileged. I wondered if I, too, might be able to have a connection with the Guru. I longed for a divine presence in my life. I was suffering emotionally, psychologically and physically, and I wanted to feel that I was being watched over and cared for. But while I firmly believed that Gurumayi would take care of Dr. T, whether or not she would extend her grace to me was another question. I prayed fervently to her for healing and relief, yet nothing seemed to change. Maybe Dr. T was simply more deserving than I was—or maybe my reluctance to fully embrace Siddha Yoga (since I actually felt a bit “on the fence” about committing to it as a spiritual practice) meant that I wasn’t worthy of having my wishes fulfilled. I felt sad and disappointed and wished I were as important as Dr. T apparently was, but I decided I would try to accept my situation and be okay with things as they were. That was the loving and spiritual thing to do, wasn’t it?


I spent those years with Dr. T feeling like I was on an emotional rollercoaster. The emotional and physical bonding that occurred when we had sex was intense and would leave me feeling really high and really connected to him; but once that wore off, I would sometimes start to panic. I was afraid of losing the connection, losing him. I had no sense of security outside his office or the bedroom; I had no hold on him. Even though we had this sexual relationship, I was still only a patient. It wasn’t okay for me to call him at home—I could only leave messages on his voicemail and hope that he would call me back. But I never knew when or if I’d hear from him. I just had to wait—and hope.

I was constantly experiencing cycles of intense bonding followed by extreme instability and insecurity, emotional and physical attachment alternating with a deep fear of loss and abandonment. I felt very depressed, very anxious, and blamed myself for the state of my life. Since Dr. T did not take any genuine responsibility for his actions or the impact they had on me, I came to believe that I alone was responsible for my misery. He did everything he could to reinforce this belief and often used spiritual philosophies (about self-responsibility, gratitude, “negative” or “toxic” emotions, etc.) to back up his position. Any problems I had regarding our relationship were apparently my problems, not his, and therefore it was my responsibility to deal with them. Whenever I complained in any way about our relationship, he would tell me that I should be grateful for what we had and to stop focusing so much on what was missing. When I got angry, he would withdraw and not speak to me—even during therapy sessions. His attitude was that I should deal with any negative feelings myself, let them go, and not direct them toward him. He certainly did not deserve them. This treatment left me feeling confused and ashamed. I found myself caught up a cycle of punishment and reward that had me constantly on edge, wanting to please the “parent” and avoid any possibility of rejection and abandonment. Even though I was trying very hard to be a strong, empowered adult, my need to maintain my bond with him and protect our connection had me constantly giving up my sense of self and personal power.

The first year of our sexual involvement was the worst. About two months after the sex started, I began to lose my sense of both emotional and physical stability. My moods were all over the place—up, down, all around. I felt anxious all the time, since I never knew what was going to happen or how he was going to treat me. Then my body started to “destabilize” as well. Although I’d had minor back trouble for several years, suddenly I found myself unable to hold my alignment. My pelvis was constantly shifting around, as if the muscles, tendons and ligaments could no longer hold me in place. I felt like there was nothing for me to hang onto, emotionally or physically.

Things got steadily worse for a couple of months and during the holiday season, I hit bottom. I had lost all sense of personal power and had very little sense of self. I loved Dr. T so much and wanted to mean something to him, but the man had a wife, a family. I had no place in his life except as a patient. I had no right to anything. The only value I had was in what I gave to him. Otherwise, I was completely worthless. I felt so much despair, confusion and pain that I really didn’t want to be alive. I couldn’t understand why God didn’t just take me and put me out of my misery. I prayed for answers and relief, but none seemed to come. I was not actively suicidal, since in order to take your own life you have to have some measure of personal power—and at the time I didn’t even have that. But I was in so much emotional pain that I couldn’t imagine how I could still be alive. I could not take it.

So I taught myself to disconnect from my body and my emotions so that I wouldn’t feel the pain. I tried to make everything not matter. In order to survive, I had to make it all “okay.” I stuffed my feelings deeper inside and tried to accept everything that was happening.

Still, I knew something was wrong with me, physically and emotionally. During the next few years, I launched a desperate search for healing, trying to figure out what was wrong and get it fixed. I saw myself very much as a problem to be solved. I had sessions with dozens of healing practitioners who seemed stymied by my condition and were unable to provide any lasting relief. No one could figure out what was going on. Eventually I did regain some sense of physical stability, but the search for emotional, physical and spiritual healing continued for a long time.

I spent those years feeling lost, confused, and constantly struggling trying to make things work. My life, which hadn’t exactly been on track prior to my involvement with Dr. T, remained without focus. Despite my attempts to find direction through career counseling, coaching and various self-help practices, nothing seemed to be working. I found it impossible to create any forward movement and felt completely stuck. Although I wanted to meet a partner and start a family, I found that whenever I considered the prospect of dating, thoughts of Dr. T would interfere. As much as I wanted a partner, I was afraid that even if I met someone and got into a steady relationship, Dr. T would still want to have sex with me—and that I wouldn’t be able to refuse him. How could I do that to a partner? Although I sometimes felt fine when Dr. T wasn’t around—more myself, more separate and independent—whenever we had sex I’d feel completely bonded to him again, like I belonged to him and would always belong to him. I couldn’t imagine how it could work if I met someone else. So I simply stopped thinking it. Maybe I didn’t need a partner after all.

That was the solution to a lot of my pain: To simply stop thinking about the future. There was often a timeless quality whenever I was with Dr. T, as if nothing else really mattered. And I just went with it. It was easy to stay “in the moment” and forget about the future. But every so often I’d realize that my life was going nowhere and I’d panic. Then for a while I’d try harder to make things happen—do visualizations, affirmations, write lists of things I wanted, try to follow the suggestions of various self-help and new age teachers. But no matter what I did, I simply couldn’t seem to make anything happen in my life. Detaching from my future—and my present—made things easier.

The more deeply involved I got with Dr. T, the more isolated I became. I couldn’t tell anyone what was going on, since that would have been a betrayal of his trust. And it’s pretty hard to have a close relationship with anyone if you can’t tell them the truth. Keeping secrets takes a lot of work, and this one was binding a lot of my energy. So I simply withdrew from close friendships and kept people at an emotional distance. It wasn’t easy keeping the secret—I so wanted to be able to share what was going on, mainly because I felt so privileged, so lucky. I couldn’t share with others the part of my life that meant the most to me. So I stopped talking about myself and let friends and family drive our conversations even more than usual.

My therapy, of course, completely changed. It became about us. Dr. T wanted me to bring my issues with our relationship into therapy, and that’s exactly what happened. I didn’t really have a choice, since he rarely made himself available for that type of conversation outside of our session time. Although I would call him and leave a message on his voicemail whenever I was upset about something that had happened between us, he rarely called me back. Often, when I left an emotional message for him, he’d give me a “cooling off” period and not call me back until the next week, sometimes not even contacting me before our next session. This pissed me off. Given our relationship, I thought it was unfair that I had to sit on my feelings and not have the opportunity to address issues in a timely manner. I thought people in relationships were supposed to talk about their problems. Instead, his “waiting period” gave me the impression that I was supposed to let everything go and just not be upset. And, more often than not, by the time the next session rolled around and an opportunity for discussion was at hand, I was far more interested in securing our connection and allaying my fears of rejection and abandonment than I was in raising a week-old issue that might create conflict between us.

I started to have more and more anxiety before our sessions. I never knew what was going to happen or which aspect of Dr. T I’d be dealing with. Sometimes when I arrived he’d be very caring and “affectionate,” other times he’d be coolly detached, distant. Even though we were having sex regularly, he would still sometimes show up very much as the boundaried therapist. This kept me feeling really insecure and hyper-protective of our connection, and ready to please him in any way I could, just to get my “buddy” back in the room.

Still, the longer our relationship continued, the less I saw him as an authority figure. As time went on, I found myself taking him less and less seriously as my therapist. After all, I’d been having sex with him. I knew what he was like underneath that therapist exterior. I wanted to get out of the power imbalance, be on equal footing. I was tired of being treated as an inferior and I chafed when he spoke to me with his air of “superior” intelligence. But I still lacked a real sense of personal power in our relationship—I needed him to grant it to me. I thought that maybe things would be easier if I left therapy. Maybe then he’d treat me more like an equal. But every time I brought up the possibility of my leaving therapy, he would look pained. He’d tell me how much he loved me, how important I was to him. It would be so difficult for him if I were wanting to move on because of our “extracurricular” relationship; he didn’t want it to have gotten in the way of therapy and would deeply regret it if it had. Of course he had my best interests at heart and hoped he’d done the right thing in allowing our sexual involvement. Then he would make a point of emphasizing just how busy he was and tell me that the only way I would truly be guaranteed of seeing him would be to make an appointment. Basically, he let me know that if I left therapy, I would likely lose the whole connection.

As much as I wanted out of the therapeutic relationship, I couldn’t bear the idea of losing him. I believed I loved him deeply and I wanted him to remain part of my life. So, inevitably I’d back down from any thoughts of leaving and decide to stay. Besides, if I valued therapy, shouldn’t I stay in the process? This was my opportunity to learn how to work through difficulties, both in my own life and in my relationship with him. Wouldn’t it be a mistake to leave?

So I stayed until he determined it was time for a change. I felt very relieved when that day came.


It was shortly after involving me more fully with his children and beginning our INS report “collaboration” that we terminated therapy, at his suggestion (of course). I’m not sure what finally made him change his mind; perhaps he’d become more concerned that, since I was spending more time with his children, there was a higher risk that someone would find out I was his patient and he wanted to sever that bond.

The ending came about nine months after we stopped the therapy sessions. Things were different between us. Although at the beginning of the year we were spending more time together since I was helping with the kids and doing more work with him, as the year went on our contact became more intermittent. This was partly because I was trying to avoid having sex with him, which was easier now that I no longer saw him every week. I was scared of my attachment to him. Every time we had sex I’d start to feel bonded and “in love” with him again, and I just couldn’t take it. It was confusing. Even though I knew deep down that we weren’t compatible as partners, I still had these feelings for him that were overwhelming, beyond my control. There was a part of me that wanted us to be together—and wanted him to want us to be together. And yet logically, I knew it would never work. It felt hopeless—and crazy-making.

I had also become a little afraid of him. Since we’d discontinued therapy, he’d been acting increasingly volatile, less in control of his emotions, and I’d become more of a target for his anger and blame. Though he’d never yelled at me when I was his patient, we’d started having arguments on the phone that left me feeling scared and confused. I found myself walking on eggshells around him more and more and trying to appease him whenever he was upset. Part of me still felt desperate to preserve the connection, while another part of me wanted to cut the cord.

It all started to come apart one night in October 2005. He’d called me up and invited me to dinner, saying he missed me and wanted to see me. I hadn’t seen him in a few weeks and I couldn’t resist his invitation, which had me glowing with pleasure. After dinner, we went to my place and had sex, and of course, I started feeling re-bonded and in love with him. Then, he casually revealed to me that he’d started dating and had been sleeping with other women. I was stunned. I’d asked him to tell me when he started having sex with anyone else, and he hadn’t. And he’d just had unprotected sex with me. My brain started to get foggy and thick. I couldn’t understand why he would have done this. It took about 24 hours for the news to really sink in. First I started to panic, and then I started to feel (at long, long last) betrayed.

That he would have unprotected sex with me after having, I assumed, unprotected sex with others, meant that he wasn’t really concerned with my well-being and didn’t have my best interests at heart, despite his claims to the contrary. By not telling me what was going on, he’d denied me the right to make my own choice or protect myself.

Though I didn’t want to admit it, I was also terrified that this meant my status with him had changed: I was no longer special. I was still in love with him, but he didn’t need me anymore—I’d been replaced. Even though this was perhaps for the best, the disruption to our connection had me in a panic.

I needed to talk to him; somehow we needed to straighten this out. After leaving him several messages, I finally heard back from him. The only time he had available to see me in person was during a canceled appointment—at his office. So I went.

He was absolutely horrible to me. He had an answer to everything, of course. He laughed at me, mocked me, and completely diminished the importance of our relationship. I felt completely helpless as I sat there, staring up at this man I adored, as he crushed me and my love for him into utter insignificance. In all those years, he had never treated me so badly. Our connection was crumbling and there was nothing I could do to hold it together. I left his office shaking, feeling completely worthless, like a piece of garbage. This was unimaginable. I felt like my world was imploding. Did I really mean nothing to him? Could it be over? My sense of loss and betrayal was so overwhelming that my loyalty to him started to crack. I could no longer contain the secrets I’d kept so long.

The next day, I finally broke my vow of silence and told someone that I’d been having a sexual relationship with my therapist. The second I told the secret, everything started to blow apart. My confidant understood, without a shadow of doubt, that I’d been seriously violated and told me that Dr. T should be reported. At first, I couldn’t conceive of what she was saying. It didn’t make any sense. Surely what we’d had was real; surely he was a good person… But some part of me understood that what she was saying was true. The illusion of the past several years of my life began to break apart. What I’d thought was beautiful and filled with light was in fact a horrible nightmare. I returned home in a state of shock. My world had abruptly shifted 180 degrees, and my new perspective was horrifying.

I proceeded to break off all contact with Dr. T. Now I was really afraid of him, and I didn’t want to let him know what I was starting to understand about our years together. I called him and left a message, saying I needed space. I told him I would mail back his files (for the INS report I was working on), requested the payment he owed me for the work, and asked him to return CDs that he’d borrowed from me. In his angry voicemail reply he accused me of reneging on our business agreement, saying he shouldn’t have to pay me, and told me that if he didn’t get my CDs back to me as soon as I liked I was free to pursue the matter in small claims court! (He actually did pay me what was due and dropped my stack of CDs through my mail slot a few weeks later.) Fortunately, that horrible afternoon at his office was the last time I had to deal with him in person.

Now that I understood that Dr. T had betrayed me, I no longer felt any loyalty to him. I started revealing the secrets of the past few years. I told my closest friends and family members what had been going on and went to see the therapist who had initially referred me to Dr. T. Although I was terrified she wouldn’t believe me, she did. She referred me to a new therapist for care, suggested I speak with an attorney, and encouraged me to consider filing a civil lawsuit.

I also proceeded to break all my ties to Siddha Yoga, and not simply because I associated it with Dr. T. I’d discovered several accounts alleging that Swami Muktananda (Gurumayi’s predecessor) and others who claimed to be celibate had engaged in sexually abusive relationships with devotees and that this had been covered up, the victims carefully silenced. I could not stomach this information and wanted nothing more to do with Siddha Yoga. I’d had quite enough of lies and manipulation in the name of spirituality.


Despite joking to people I’d told about Dr. T that I’d “just dropped 180 pounds of dead weight” and felt great, I had a new problem to contend with: PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). It’s common for abuse victims to experience PTSD and that was certainly the case for me. After a couple of weeks feeling oddly giddy after breaking off contact with him, I then started to experience major anxiety, hypervigilance, brain fog and light-headedness when I talked about what had happened, intrusive memories, flashbacks—the works. I also became even more scared of Dr. T. I felt just like a kid who had done something bad (in this case, telling the parent’s secrets) and was deathly afraid of being found out and punished. Although I thought that everything would be fine now that I was out and away from him, in fact, things got worse. I had to contend with all the reminders of him that were triggering my PTSD responses, the repressed feelings that were now making themselves known, and the near-daily realizations about what had actually been going on all that time. I also had to deal with the loss of the fantasy I’d been so sure was real. The disillusionment was traumatic, and the fact that I’d believed his lies left me feeling very ashamed.

The decision to file a civil lawsuit was a fairly easy one to make. Several people had suggested that it would be a way for me to “get my power back,” and that sounded good to me. I was very much aware that Dr. T had taken money from me for therapy sessions spent having sex; and if it was possible to get that money back, that sounded good to me. I met with an attorney over the holidays and we began the process of filing first a civil complaint and then a licensing complaint with the Board of Psychology. The lawsuit settled out of court after about one year (in February 2007), with a settlement from Dr. T’s insurance company. The licensing complaint took an astonishing two years, apparently due to a backlog of medical board complaints and a shortage of investigators, but it was finally resolved in 2009. Dr. T surrendered his license to practice, admitting to the charges against him and giving up his right to a hearing. After three years, he will be eligible to petition for reinstatement.

Recovery is neither a short-term nor a finite process. Healing from an experience like this, which took place over such an extended period of time, is like shedding skin. Layer after layer of denial come off, exposing difficult memories and feelings that had been kept well hidden. Bit by bit, I crawl back into my body, reclaim it as mine, and allow sensation to return. Over time, my perspective on what happened—and why it happened—shifts and changes as I reach deeper and deeper levels of awareness and understanding. While part of me enjoys this process, it can leave me feeling raw, vulnerable, hurt, and angry. Angry at Dr. T for what he did, and angry at myself for turning an abusive relationship into a fantasy.

Such a big part of healing is accepting oneself and one’s reality. I can’t undo the past—this will always be part of my life. But I can learn to accept it. To wish I could have done something different would be to wish I had been different. The person I was could not have responded to the situation in any other way. I did the best I could; I did the only thing I knew how to do. It’s up to me to accept myself and offer myself my own forgiveness and compassion. I can also learn to accept Dr. T and his actions. Not excuse—accept. In my opinion, what he did was unconscionable, but I can’t change who he was and what he chose to do. Struggling with reality simply keeps me in pain and prevents me from moving forward. Instead, I’m learning to accept myself, my feelings and my experience. That is the way to healing and to peace.

I feel very grateful for the support of my friends and family as well as the subsequent therapists and healthcare practitioners who have helped me during my recovery process. Among the trauma therapies I’ve found particularly invaluable are EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), which helped alleviate many PTSD symptoms, and Somatic Experiencing (developed by Peter Levine).

© 2009–2011 by Kristi Coombs






  1. It has been one month and 2 days since my last “session” with my Psychiatrist/Therapist. Mine was not sexual in nature but rather
    a “mother-daughter” type relationship was formed. It would take
    forever to explain the whole situation, but I was seeing her for med
    management of my Bipolar and PTSD, the med management turned into
    twice weekly psychoanalysis and me driving 300 miles round trip twice a
    week to see her. After a few months of driving back and forth I asked if I could
    do back to back sessions as the driving was really a hassle both physically and
    financially. I could stay overnight in a motel cheaper than driving back and forth twice each week. My story is so similar to the nature of the others that
    have posted that I won’t go into detail, except to say that last November she invited me to stay over at her house on the days I came up for therapy, she also told me to come up the day before so we could “hang out” on her day off. Of course the idea of getting to stay with my Psychiatrist and the invite to hang out every week was totally exciting to me, and I felt she really did care and was the mother figure I never had. I told her I thought of her as my mother and she said that was fine, that I needed to feel loved and she loved me as she would a daughter. During this time she was whole heartedly set on me “divorcing my parents” (as she put it) and also was encouraging me to divorce my husband and also had me questioning my relationship with my sister. In other words she was making
    me totally dependent on her. I ended my relationship with my parents, and to this day it has damaged my relationship with my husband and my sister. Tho my husband has been very understanding about everything and is a huge help to me now that I have divulged all that went on. She told me from the get-go that I could not tell anyone that I was staying at her house and I had to hide in a room when someone came over, one time I sat in the bathroom on the floor trying not to make a sound for over an hour, just to keep her mother from discovering me.
    I even plugged my ears with my fingers so as to not over-hear their conversation, oddly even when no one was watching I felt the need to
    protect her or keep myself a notch lower than her, I felt I was being
    “good”, trustworthy, ect. even tho she could not see me hiding and covering my ears….I realize just now as I write this how stupid I feel for going to such great lengths to make her trust me, to let her know I would not reveal “our secret”. I was lying to my husband telling him I was staying at a Motel every week. I felt such guilt, such a huge weight trying to contain this secret and keep my Psychiatrist happy and safe and to keep my husband from finding out our secret. She made me feel so special, all the things I never got from my mother I was getting from her, at least that is what I thought. I look back now and I see how it all progressed and how she was using me, I was running errands for her, buying her groceries, leaving money on the table for her before I would leave to go back home as I felt I should be chipping in for my share of using her electricity and water, I was cleaning her house, dog sitting for her when she went out of town, cooking for her, the whole nine yards, she had me believing she was making next to nothing in her practice since she was treating so many patients for free because that’s just how “kind” she wanted to appear to me. Part of the reason I was seeing her was because of abuse from a prior therapist that convinced me that I had no hope left and that my decision to commit suicide was understandable and that she felt I had no other options left. I surrived the suicide attempt (duh) but it took me a week to tell anyone what had happened and her role in it. So yes I feel like a total idiot for letting this happen not only once but twice. This current psychiatrist had also told me the exact medications to take to kill myself and even wrote me prescriptions for each medication, we called it my “kill kit” and she laughed at my clever place for hiding it.
    She had given me an expensive camera for which I felt so indebted to her, I kept trying to give the camera back and told her I was not worthy of such an expensive gift, she insisted I keep it. She also sold me her 38 revolver, which she is now realizing was NOT a good idea, (she called my husband and told him to hide it from me, “because if I used it to kill myself she would be in deep crap”, yeah, she was/is twisted, she thought my husband was on her side after all was said and done….again, too much to explain and make sense of in this post.
    And I’m sure that many will not believe what I am saying. This past month I have been thru hell, I tried to commit suicide again and this time came so close to death that I am surprised I survived, yes I used my “kill kit”, but my husband found me and called the paramedics. Everything started to unravel when she found out that my husband knew I was staying at her house…..the email responses did not come anymore, the texting stopped, she became angry very easily and I could see I was losing her, it was horrible, I went from sending hatefull emails to her one day, to the next day sending appolegetic emails pleading for her forgiveness…I was on a roller coaster ride, and I could not see what was really happening until it all caved in a month ago and the week after my suicide attempt in which she did not contact me or answer my emails or texts messages…I begged for an appt. to see her and was finally granted one and when I saw her, her first words were “I think you should start seeing “such and such” for therapy, I didn’t say a word, I knew what as happening, but I sat there as she mocked me, made condescending remarks and basically made me
    feel like an idiot. I have spent every day for the last month going over everything in my mind, trying to figure out if I was wrong or if she was wrong, and should I be angry, did I cause this, going thru the feelings of missing her, or missing what I thought I had with her, I am still torn, tho I know it is over, I feel so abandoned and so much in dispair. I have spent this last month in my room so depressed and so racked with guilt and self doubt, my mind racing with thoughts of what did I do, what should I do, where do I go now, how do I get my meds that I need badly to stay on an even keal. I can’t trust another doctor or therapist, I won’t. I have only told my husband what has happened and I can’t bring myself to tell anyone else, as I feel so utterly stupid for being dooped not once but twice. As I write this I wonder how many people will read this and laugh or reply with a mocking comment.
    I cry every day, it feels like a death, I feel like I lost my “mother”, a mother I never had as a child and this “Pretend Mother” who now has thrown me aside. It just drills into me my own belief of how bad I am, how I am not worth anything or any love…there is something extremely wrong or bad about me, I feel like I Have the words “abuse me” stamped on my forehead, I hate myself, and I feel like nothing will ever be okay, I will never be okay, I fight every day to stay alive, but it is hard, I am a 48 yr. old women, yes, 48 yrs. old and I still can’t get it right. My doctor was the same age as my mother, 69.
    I have such self hatred for msyelf, all I can think is how stupid I am and how I
    don’t deserve to be alive. I’m glad I found this page tonight, tho I feel so utterly stupid for allowing this to happen to me twice.
    I just needed to get some of this off my chest.

    • Hi TM,
      Thank you so much for your courage in sharing your story. It was chilling to me as I read it because I saw so many similarities between our experiences — especially around the need to protect and take care of the therapist, the willingness to do whatever it took to hold onto the attachment, and the longing to show our absolute loyalty. I also remember all too well how it felt to be mocked and to feel utterly worthless, as if my life were worth nothing. Please remember: This was not your fault. You trusted yourself to this therapist and she took full advantage of you. It was her job, her absolute duty and obligation to be trustworthy and uphold the boundaries. And she is the one who must take full responsibility for what happened. Yes, we think as adults we *should* know better, but we only know what we know. If we *could* do better, we would. Going forward with awareness, we can make different choices — choices that we couldn’t make before because we didn’t know how. So please let yourself off the hook!

      Right now you are in the worst part of recovery, but I will tell you that you can heal. I am now lightyears away from where I was when I first broke away from Dr. T. That is possible for you, too. It is essential that you find someone, anyone, who can support you through this process. I know you no longer trust therapists, but perhaps another health practitioner or other type of counselor or someone from a spiritual community — or even a good friend. You need to be able to talk about this and not feel judged. Then you can learn to stop judging yourself, and that’s the path to healing. If you can’t find someone, go to the TELL website (http://www.therapyabuse.com) and use their email contact. They have responders who can communicate with you via email and provide some support.

      Have you considered filing a complaint and holding her accountable? That is another path you could take. I know it is hard to think about holding “the parent” accountable, but that’s one way to reclaim some sense of self as separate from her and put the responsibility where it should be — on her.

      You can be okay. You are fighting and that is good. That means that something inside you wants to survive and knows you are worth it! Honor that part of you that knows you are valuable!

      We are holding you in our hearts and sending you blessings. You are loved and supported!

    • Hi TM,

      My name is Theresa. I read your post and I must say it brought tears to my eyes and my heart aches for you. I relate so much to what you wrote. It’s been almost three years this month since my abuse started by my therapist. It’s been a hard journey. Lot’s and lot’s of up’s and down’s. I want you to know that there is peace waiting for you. I know it’s so hard right now to see it, and I didn’t for a long time. But it is there. There is so much beauty and peace that someday you will start to feel. I get bits and peices most days. They usually don’t last long, but it gives me hope. And those little moments of peace, awh and wonder, they are wonderfully beautiful. Beauty I don’t think I’ve ever felt before going through all this. It’s real and I beleive you will feel it someday, too. You just have to want it and you’ve got to learn to love yourself and to put the blame where it belongs, on the therapist. You did nothing wrong. And sometimes it takes hearing that many times before you can truely feel it in your heart. But it is TRUE.

      Hang in there. You, I, all of us are going to be OK!

  2. Hi Kristi,

    Congratulations for your slow but firm recovery and thank you for explaining your story. I had a really similar experience, yoga guru included and I felt so close to you while reading your post, mostly because I really didn´t expect to find someone who had gone though this same experience, not only a therapist abuse but also a spiritual guru, a deep boundary that breaks and hurts like in an unimaginable way. My therapist was also married but told me that they were going to separate. He told me he loved me… even asked if I would marry him in a fantasy delirium moment (I guess…). After stocking me and suggesting we should be a three person couple I broke any contact with him despite what my attachment said. I didn´t report…. I regret in some way but I guess there´s no point now. Sometimes it makes me angry to think he is still having a lot of pacients (devotees is a better word) and “surprisingly” again with his brainwashed-wife. He hurted me so much and I am still so angry with him. The betrayal, as you perfectly explain, broke the loyalty and the fascination, but then the confusion and the sense of outrage camed in my awareness. I have to say that I still practice and love yoga and in fact it helps me so much, even I struggle sometimes trying to stop relating my practice to this man in some slightly way. Fortunately I have and amazing boyfriend now who loves me and cares so much, without claming his self a spiritual person he is deeply and truthly a real yogui in his heart. I can see that and have learn so much about humility and kindness acts importante beyond words and speaches. I hope I can overcome this episode completely someday and for you I hope the best of the best. You are amazing, brave and beautiful hearted and thank you for sharing your experience. I still can t believe I found your post, I´m sure it´s going to inspire me for healing. THANK YOU and hughs from your spanish friend, H

    • Thank you so much for sharing your story! Having that spiritual bond really does a number on you! It’s as if it’s not just the two of you in relationship, but God (or however you relate to God) is in there as well. And that makes it all so much more devastating. It took me a while to “un-deify” my therapist and bring him back to being simply human, but it did happen. When someone has that much power in your life, it can be hard to remember that they’re really not any different or better than you. (And just so you know, it took me a couple of years before I could look at a yoga magazine without getting really angry! Eventually, you start being able to detach and separate the person from the practice, but that’s a tough one, too.)

      It’s pretty shocking how many of us have had similar experiences, but at least we know we’re not alone. All the best to you in your healing!

    • Hi, I tried emailing you about my coaching services but the message bounced back. I do coach occasionally by phone and/or email, primarily around healing and helping people transition and move forward.

      Right now I’m in the middle of my own major life transition, so it will be a few weeks before I’ll be available. Let me know what you’re interested in and we can be in touch.


  3. How do you deal with the brokeness of your feelings? I go to therapy and talk and throughout the week make my best efforts to accomplish my goals.
    I feel like a car where somebody put sugar in the tank and you can clean it out but it is always still gunked up.

    • Hi Phil,
      Thanks for your comment. How long has it been for you? Personally, after the first year, I found talk therapy inadequate to help me deal with what I had going on emotionally. It was partly my relationship with that particular therapist, because even though she was very good, I didn’t feel able to go deep with her emotionally. I needed something more nurturing, and eventually I turned to somatic therapy, which felt more supportive. (After a while with that, I found another therapist and did EMDR.) It’s really important to deal with the feelings, because after trauma we have a tendency to push them away or shove them under the carpet. As bad as they feel, we can’t get “around” them, we need to go “through” them. I’m not saying we have to relive the trauma, but we need to be willing to accept the feelings that are there and stop pushing them away. It’s the pushing away of feelings — all feelings — that leaves us numbed out. On the other hand, sometimes all the feelings feel bad and overwhelming and we just can’t take that all the time. So I also found it important to regain or pursue some sense of spirituality, some sense of meaning, and to focus on joy in whatever way I could. That didn’t come easily, but it was the pursuit and the intention that was important. I was also quite determined to heal and to get through the lawsuit, and that gave me other things to think about and focus on.

      It’s not easy and it takes time. But you can get through it. A lot of it has to do with intention and determination and what you’re focusing on. It’s so important to find something positive in your life, something to look forward to, or even just something that brings pleasure for a few moments a day. I did keep a gratitude journal (and still do), and even though I often couldn’t connect to any sense of gratitude and felt like a fraud for even doing the exercise, I found that I felt a lot better when I did it than when I didn’t. So I kept it up. Really, as I said, I think so much of it is just that intention to find something good in there in the midst of the muck. That could be a nice meal, a child laughing, the shape of the clouds — anything that brings a smile to your face.

      Most important of all is to stop focusing on what happened and giving your attention to the therapist. You need to bring the focus back to yourself and your own life. Take your power back from the therapist and the situation. The more you think about it, the more you’ll think about it, so find something different to focus on. (This is another reason I think talk therapy has its limitations, because so often we’re just focusing on PROBLEMS which has a tendency to perpetuate our belief that we have problems that need to be talked about and fixed.) Turn your attention to something else, not to be in denial or shove the feelings away, but to find something good in your life to focus on. You are worth a better life. Believe that. Don’t let the therapist take that away from you. You deserve to be happy. Part of you knows that. So get in touch with that part of you and let it guide you to something better.

      It’s all easier said than done, but believe me: You can get through this. We all can. Just love yourself as much as you can and trust that you will heal.


      • Hi Kristi:

        Thank you so much for your reply. So many of the things you say are true, to be grateful for the things we have and not dwell on the past.
        I just need to hear it again from people.

  4. my abuser is still working, I believe as a Mft and BBS boa
    rd doesn’t care. the pain never ends, the betrayal.

    The betrayal, pain never ends….using a friends email. My abuser is to believed to be working as a MfT with a license. BBS doesn’t care.

    • I’m so sorry to hear this. Was a complaint filed with the board? Unfortunately, it’s true that abusers get to maintain their practice while the complaint investigation is underway. But that’s how the system works – innocent until proven guilty. And many abusers, even if they have lost or surrendered their license to practice, find a way to practice without one by becoming coaches, etc. And then there are those who are never held accountable. It’s really tough for the survivor no matter what happens. The best thing is always to focus on your own life and move forward in whatever way you can.
      I hope you are able to get the help and healing you need!


  5. I too have had simalar experience , this has blown me away I cannot believe the simalarites . I’m finding it hard to move on . I was abused as a child by my father and family . I suffer with bipolar now and have a therapist for about a year. We have became involved . All on his terms of course , he calls the shots . I feel like I’m in a trance when I’m with him . When I tex him he is blunt and cold with me . I’ve tried to end things but feel I get drawn back . He recently married and tells me it’s just sex with me . I know he is a player and loves women he tells me . He keeps telling me not to end my life as I have tried in the past before my therapy started . This is to keep his conscience clear . I’m falling apart right now and wish to go to switaland to end my life as I see no way out . Please help me .

  6. Hi Kristi,

    I first wanted to say thank you for sharing your story. It means the world to me right now to read it, and to see so many similarities in my own experience. For me it was with my chiropractor, who also fancies himself a coach. I came to him, however, in one of the lowest times I’d experienced in a long time. I had post-partum depression, and was emotionally estranged from my husband, though we were still married. So much of what you described in the beginning was nearly identical, even the “spiritual” part of it. I felt as if this person validated my very existence…I became entirely dependent on him, and though I allowed the initial transgression of boundaries, I didn’t want it to happen. I feared it. I also have a history of sexual abuse, and though the sexual relationship with this man ended long ago, I’m just now dealing with memories, anxieties, and other emotions around what happened. I’m suddenly seeing the abusiveness of the things he did and said, how he would convince me that what we were doing was not wrong spiritually (the Rumi quote), oh man, and so so much more. I’ve been inspired now to write about it. I told my husband now what happened then, and it’s been painful for us both, but I am determined to bring this into the full light of day. It’s in the shadows that we become more vulnerable to falling into this sort of situation.

    I do have one question: I’m thinking that I should report him,especially as I’ve recently learned that others may have experienced something similar. But I, too, am nervous, even scared, to do so. Any advice for me?

    • Hi,

      Thanks for sharing your experience. It’s scary how similar the stories can be!
      Regarding reporting him, while I think it’s important to hold these people accountable for their actions, ultimately you need to do what’s best for you. Reporting an abusive practitioner and/or filing a civil or criminal complaint can be very activating and have a huge impact on your life, so it’s important to consider your decision before jumping in. It’s completely normal to be nervous or scared, because it’s a big deal! I think that as long as you are aware of the statute of limitations and have time, you don’t have to make a decision right away. Regardless of the type of complaint you’re considering, I do strongly advise consulting with an attorney before taking any action, as they can advise you of your options and help you understand the consequences. You should be able to get a free consultation. Try contacting one of the lawyers listed on the legal resources page.

      Trust that you will make the decision that’s right for you and don’t let anyone bully you either way. This is your decision, not anyone else’s. It’s your life.

      All the best!

  7. There is no finally one finds a good therapist, in my life anyway. I was conned into a friendship, then sexual relationship THEN transferring lots of my money to my therapist. He even has a “cassette taped” interview with me in which he prompted me to tell the “tale” of how my money transfers to him and sex and all were free will etc. (I was in a hospital at that time, with a morphine drip due to one massively fracture foot/ankle). What an angel he is. (NOT) Thankfully years have pasted and I’m healing, in spite of the “shrink” hierarchies, by myself with hard physical and educational work and the amazing love offered from friends. I’ve connected totally with the spiritual side of life, however, no “human” master is my leader in my spiritual relief. I’m very conscious of humans who SCAM others and live my life the best I can for myself and when I can, for others. I’ve learned that to love and respect myself for what I think and do is more important to my healing than ever. I’m no longer a “lamb” serving myself up to another human as sacrifice for healing. I’m living the best I can, harming no one, especially, not harming myself. If perhaps any academic or legal humans read this, PLEASE police your mental health associated people. I still am working on forgiving any abuse I’ve survived. Peace to all.

  8. Thank you for telling your story, and for having a place to go to when sorting out therapy abuse. The hardest thing about therapy abuse is that it ruins therapy for you. It robs you of trust even if the next therapist is excellent.

    My story was also in the context of a healing profession, but different in the details. I was in an advanced manual therapy training program of a well known school. In this training we were working on each other, 5 therapists, with one of us on the table receiving, and 3 acting as assistant therapist and 1 as lead therapist. The teacher was working with a similar group on the text table about 10 feet away. There were 2 teaching assistants, one out of the room.

    The system of bodywork understands the connection between the mind, emotions and the body so it is allowed and encouraged to express yourself with words and release emotions as physical restrictions are released. The 4 therapists have their hands on my head, my shoulder my lower back, my legs. Very gentle and very supportive. In the middle of my process the teaching assistant joins in our table and places her hand on my chest but the pressure is too much and I ask her to lighten it. She doesn’t. I ask again. She doesn’t say anything and doesn’t release pressure.

    I feel alarmed, and am no longer in my process I am so uncomfortable with this TA’s touch so I open my eyes and sit up. I want to end the session. She pushes me back down on the table and I struggle to sit up but she holds me down and tells the others to ‘stay with it’. They all hold me down against my will. I ask, plead, and yell at them to let me go but they don’t. They don’t talk to me, don’t engage with me other than to hold me down on the table. Every cell in my body is panicked. I feel pure terror. It is so awful that I will myself to leave my body I want to die right then and there. But of course it’s not that easy to die.
    I struggle off the table and they continue to hold me down on the floor for several minutes. Finally they release me after I beg and say I will tell you anything you want just let me go.

    The class continues for a week, I stay feeling more and more depressed. I have green and purple bruises on my arm. My chest is also bruised. The TA is not reprimanded. The students say, ‘sorry’. The teacher leads the class to think that I was just having an emotional release, not that I had been battered and assaulted right under their noses while they participated. “What does this remind you of in your past?’ She asks, as if the present incident is a minor blip and the real abuse happened in my childhood.

    I saw how nice people cannot believe that other ‘nice’ people they know would be abusive in therapy settings and go automatically into denial. Everyone cheerfully socialized with the TA that assaulted me while I felt isolated.

    The school refunded my money, but would not tell me what disciplinary action if any was done to the TA. As far as I know she is still on their volunteer TA staff.

    I made a formal complaint to the professional board of the TA in the state in which she practices. She had to hire a lawyer to write a letter of defense, basically saying I was a crazy person. They took it as a case of ‘she said / she said’ and did nothing.

    I did not lose my mind. I got help any way I could and recovered. I did EFT and EMDR. I found that I no longer was able to receive that particular kind of therapy that I loved. I can’t relax on the table any more. I don’t trust therapists even though my logical mind knows the good ones are OK.

    I also have trouble with any medical procedure that involves me lying down such as having my teeth cleaned. I always scan the room, size up the practitioner with her sharp pointy objects and judge whether I could fight her off if she decides to go crazy and hold me down.

    This was also my profession in which I was humiliated. It has been hard to continue with advanced trainings and certificates. I am really good at doing the therapy which as zero to do with holding people down. I am especially good with trauma survivors, but I myself don’t receive the work. I do take more classes but I stay away from classes that involve therapists working on one another. I have taken a class every 3 years since the incident. Each time I go I am very stressed to be in the classroom again.

    So much was taken from me in those 5 minutes.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I can imagine how violated you must have felt, being held down against your will and begging to be let go. And having it done in the context of “healing” and not having any support despite all the other people there. You were violated on multiple levels!

      Were you able to get any relief from the EFT or EMDR? I wonder if there’s some kind of more remote/energetic work that might help release more of the trauma from your system, if that’s something you’re comfortable with. (If so, contact me privately and I may have a couple of suggestions.)

      All the best to you in your healing!!

  9. Hi Kristi

    I was completely fascinated with your story.
    I had such a similar story EXCEPT that it was my wife who was seeing a psychiatrist.
    She’s the one who got involved in a similar type of relationship with her psychiatrist.

    I didn’t know about it until it was over (about 2 years after she stopped seeing him).

    It was quite a devastating experience for me at the time.

    Would love to be able to communicate and maybe gain some insight into what I went through. Trust ( or rather the betrayal of trust
    ) etc.


    • Hi Mark,
      I’m so sorry for what you and your wife have been through. You can contact me privately through the Contact page on the site, if you have some questions and would like some feedback.

  10. Mother’s Day is a really hard day to live through. I’m reminded of how much time I have lost with dealing with the abuse of my therapist. I want so badly to be a mother, but I also want to be happy and healthy before I bring a baby into this world. I keep thinking..just a little longer…six more months…,ok maybe six more…nope not ready yet…maybe I should wait a little longer…maybe I’m just not meant to have children…But I want children… When is the healing ever complete enough? Some day’s I think I’m doing good enough and I feel ready, but then I have days like today where I don’t see a end to the pain. I want to be happy, I really do, but I just don’t know how to maintain happiness in my life. I have lot’s to be thankful for, I know, but there is such an emptiness inside of me. I feel so numb. Like I can’t see why life is even worth living most of the time. I keep thinking, if I could only get this weight off that I’ve put on since the abuse, then I can be happy. Then I can have the energy to find things that can make me happy. I feel so isolated with these feelings. Even having a very loving husband, you would think that would be enough for me to move on and be happy. He is hurting too, and I try to be happy for him. I try to put on a happy smile and tell him I’m ok. But most of the time I just want to run and hide. I want to isolate myself from everyone because I’m hurting so much and don’t want to bother them with my problems, so it is easier to just stay away. I know that’s not healthy, but I don’t know how to ask for help or open up to people very well. And I know most people really don’t want to hear it. I’m going to start a new way of eating. Starting with a elimination diet plan. Maybe it has something to do with the foods I eat. Maybe my system is sensitive to certain foods. I’ve got to do it. I have to find the discipline to at least try it. I’m I really as ugly as I feel? Did what my therapist did to me really mean I’m not worthy of happiness and love? Did he see that I was broken and that’s why he took advantage of me? What’s wrong with me that I let him hurt me like that? What does that say about me? I wish there was a way I could erase my past memories of what he did to me. I don’t want to have them anymore. I don’t want it to be a part of me anymore. I want to be someone that that didn’t happen to. I don’t want to see myself as he must have seen me.

    • Hi T,
      I’m so sorry that you’re having such a hard time right now. Remember that those feelings you’re having are transitory and can shift day to day, hour to hour. I also think that the more we focus mentally on the bad feelings, the more present they are for us. I experience this all the time in my day to day life. Whatever I’m putting my attention on — and especially the way I’m thinking about it and my attitude toward it — all that tends to take over, and the negative thoughts become a self-perpetuating cycle. So I would encourage you to notice what you’re putting your attention on. This is different from letting yourself feel the feelings and be with them, without focusing on them, without judging them as good or bad, without judging yourself for having the feelings — just letting them move through you. If we just do that and notice, without judging, then the feelings often move through us and we end up feeling better afterwards.

      Remember, too, that healing is not finite — it’s an ongoing process and a learning process. It’s not like one day we’re “done” and it’s all over. So don’t wait to be happy. Do what you can to be happy now. Part of that may be figuring out if anything is contributing to the lousy feelings — like food issues. (I myself have been dealing with this for a number of years.) The food we eat, the air we breathe, the people we hang out with, our job, our environments — all of these things can have a profound effect on our health and well-being, so it’s important to pay attention to them, especially if you’re having ongoing mood issues. Food sensitivities can have a profound impact on your mood and mental health, so if you think something may be bothering you, an elimination diet could be a great idea.

      Mostly I want to say: Don’t put off being happy. Don’t wait for something to be different in order to go after what you want. Often it’s the reverse: When we go after what we want, when we take action, then we feel better. Or if we decide to be happy now, regardless of our circumstances, then sometimes the circumstances change. Don’t put your life on hold for healing. Healing happens when we choose to live. Healing happens when we stop beating ourselves up and love and accept ourselves, including our perceived inadequacies and our pasts, just as we are.

      I hope you can give yourself some love and care today! Be your own mom and give yourself some nurturing. And enjoy it!

  11. Is this guy still practicing? My cousin is having therapy with a male doctorate therapist from Oakland Califirnia and his name begins with a T also!!!! Please send me by private e-mail more info bout him. I m afraid he relapse and I don’t want my family to be with such a demon!

  12. I am so sad and so shocked by these stories, all I can do is thank the people who are speaking up and encourage you to know that once you break the relationship, there is life past the warped reality of abuse. As a therapist who is always trying to improve, it really pains me that anyone in this profession would take the privilege and trust that our clients invest in us, and use it to fulfill their own needs without regard to the very severe consequences on others. It speaks to a real disturbance they must be contending with, despite their high-functioning facade. Therapists must not have dual relationships with their clients, that means they should not accept large gifts, act as friends, engage in any business/barter relationship, or touch the client without their permission, and only for comforting, or previously agreed-upon purposes, such as in body-oriented therapies. Boundaries are important to contain the clients’ needs safely. If your radar goes off, please listen. Please always trust your instincts! And know that although helping professionals are only human, most of us do really want to do our very best to help others.

    • Hi April,
      That is not an appropriate comment for a therapist to make. For some of us, that’s the sort of comment that our therapists made at the beginning of the grooming process. My advice? First, be alert for those kinds of comments and for any sexualized intention or behavior on his part. Second, if you can do this, call him on it. Set your boundaries. Tell him the comment made you uncomfortable and to not make comments like that again. If he apologizes, that’s good information; it shows he may be able to take responsibility for his behavior and to have more appropriate boundaries in the future. If he doesn’t apologize and instead tries to rationalize his comment or is dismissive of you for questioning him, that’s a good indication that he has extremely poor boundaries and will not take responsibility for himself. If that’s the case, find another therapist. If you don’t feel comfortable saying anything, then as I said, be alert. And you may want to make written notes of things he says and does in case the situation escalates and you need to take administrative action.

      Feel free to keep checking in!

  13. He has also said other things. I talked about wanting to lose weight and he said he didn’t understand why because the biggest part on me was my chest which was nice. Another time he told me if I was trying. To get him to notice me then it worked because he noticed and that I am attractive but he can’t do anything about it because it wouldn’t be right so he said he had to be good and keep his hands in his lap. And I told he was married as well and he said that wasn’t his main reason his main reason was respect for me. He has given me hugs and has held my hand and rubbed my back when I was crying but nothing more.

    • April, in my opinion you should stop seeing this therapist IMMEDIATELY. All of these comments are EXTREMELY inappropriate. He has sexualized your therapy and cannot be trusted to hold proper boundaries. None of this is your fault or responsibility — it is all his. Please stop seeing him right away and get yourself to another therapist.

    • There’s no way to know for sure, but if I were you, I’d be alert to him pushing the boundaries further.
      Be very careful, very aware. If you have someone in your life you trust and feel comfortable disclosing to, tell that person what’s going on. Still, my strongest recommendation is to stop seeing him right away — you don’t have to explain why, just stop. If you try to talk to him, he’s likely to try to justify and excuse his behavior and try to get you to stay. Just stop seeing him, find a new therapist and tell that person what’s been happening.

    • Yes, you have to just leave. You can call and leave a voicemail requesting he not contact you, and then just don’t respond to ANY of his communications. If he persists, you may be able to report him to the police. You can also contact his licensing board and see if you can file a complaint. But you need to break off all contact or he’ll just keep hooking you in.

    • Again, in my opinion, I think the best thing is to not engage with him AT ALL. From what you’ve said, I see him as someone who cannot be trusted. I still recommend breaking off all contact and finding a new therapist you can trust and who will be a genuine and trustworthy advocate for your well-being.

    • My first response is NO, it’s not okay, but there may be some grey areas, depending on the type of therapist this is, what type of therapy they’re practicing and what exactly the “massage” is. For example, some therapists, like some somatic therapists, may touch clients during a session with the client’s consent. Now, that’s not giving them a massage, but some hands-on work may be permitted by mutual consent. But if a talk therapist is suddenly offering massages to the client, that’s a HUGE red flag.

      What kind of therapist is this? What exactly do you mean by “massage”? What’s the purpose of it?

  14. He is a councelor, and it was a back and shoulder massage , I told him that I was feeling lonely and he said he wished there was something he could do then he sat beside me and massaged my back.

    • That is a huge red flag and could easily be the beginning of a grooming process. He should not be giving you massages. It crosses what should be a firm boundary. Please stay very aware and alert to what is going on. You could try telling him you’re concerned and see what he says. If he apologizes and backs off, that’s a good sign. If he excuses or rationalizes it or says it’s for your benefit, I’d strongly encourage you to get a referral to a different therapist. His concern should be for your comfort and safety and for the boundaries of the therapeutic container. If that’s not the case, stop seeing him right away and find someone else who’s trustworthy.

  15. Wow, where to begin. This “therapist” really did a number on you. I am sorry that you had to endure so much from a sociopath. I have been an outpatient therapist for 15 years now and it is sad to see illegitimate therapists and counselors intentionally using others for their own selfish desires. If you ever need a pen pal, I am here for you. Best of luck in all of your endeavors!


  16. well there is far worse out there than continual ‘sex’. you engaged in the sex which makes it consensual. Yes im sure the guy was manipulative, but being a person you wanted it too. Its easy to say no to sex..unless you want it. you weren’t raped. some people may find a sitaution like that, exciting to be able to have sex with a therapist or erotic. the therapist didnt force sex on you–yes he was an abusive jerk monster…and what he did was against ethics as a therapist….yes he was wrong, but you were just in an abusive situation with a male who did this to you…many people are and the person isnt a therapist…its wrong he took money for sure- and for that he should pay back… what he did was def wrong but you participated

  17. participated in the sex fully…you became engulfed in an abuser like any victim does…a part of you was probably looking for that and yes excited–yes u were excited by it b/c it was sex…you had fun and pleasure…you were just dealing with a sociopath like you knew and a monster…the choice was yours…you got involved…i wouldnt blame the therapist 100% though it was his fault and he’s a sicko but you too chose to engage…engaging in hugging obviously is going to lead to something sexual. as a grown woman im sure you knew what his intent was…no guy is going to say ok let’s hug and cuddle…and this is part of therapy…this is all part of the seduction process–either u were not very smart or you went along with it…you cant be that naive…i understand these people are victims but they are also full and willing participants…its not hard to end therapy, stop going, report someone, end the abuse, end it all…you wanted the sex, you wanted the attention…and with it came things u knew were gcoming…u knew he was married and u had sex with him….that was your fault not his…you engaged in this scenario because he fulfilled a desire you needed and u got involved….these are just situations which are hadr to say the blame fully lies with the abusive therapist…though it does…it also lies with the client who chose to engage in it…truly you had sex with a married guy and it was your choice….he ended up being a slimeball and he was…. humans like sex, they want to feel needed and wanted, you chose to participate and with it came the consequences…im sure during the grooming process oyu you knew u were being groomed….youre not a child…youre an adult…your subconscious mind and conscious went with it because it was exciting and something u desired which many people do…

    • lisa99

      Thanks so much for your comment, it was nice to read just in time for Christmas… You have obviously never been through anything like this. Yes you have a right to your own thoughts. But these thought’s are not appriciated here. We have been deeply wounded down to our very souls. We are trying to move on and heal as best as we can. But I think deep down we all know that the hurt and betrayl will always be there like a sore that never fully heals. It’s people like you that make this even harder. Harder to open up and get the help we need when we need it the most.

      Merry Christmas to you lisa99. and God Bless!

    • I am not sure what is the goal that you have in mind by addressing the person who went through many years of abusive relationship using harsh approach, giving the fact that she lost her mother at such young age and then went through a loss of her father, what exactly, other than looking superior, your goals from passing your judgment aims exactly to achieve??. Do you feel better about yourself? or do you perhaps think she should regret being so brave in facing what she went through and sharing it online with the rest of us- something that you did not have the courage to do no matter what is your story..
      Please be wise when you respond to people who open their heart to you or just do a favor to yourself and remain silent.

    • What you do not understand is that therapeutic relationships are inherently unequal in their power balance. Namely, the therapist — like a priest, like a teacher, like a parent — is in the position of caretaker, and the patient is psychologically like a child. Any therapist who takes advantage of this power imbalance by manipulating the patient for their own needs is essentially not giving a choice to the patient. So you are absolutely wrong to say that victims are “willing participants” or that they are not very smart, or all of the other very ugly, uninformed things you wrote. I would suggest that you educate yourself by reading about the topic.

      Think about it: codes of ethics, standards of conduct, etc. are there for a reason: to protect the patient from this kind of horrible abuse. And yes, Kristi is absolutely right, people like you make it much harder for those of us who have gone through this kind of horrible exploitation that destroys are hearts and souls. Consider yourself fortunate that you have not experienced this and don’t judge the rest of us about something that you clearly know nothing about.

    • Hi Mia,
      So, it depends. If the therapist mentions having been depressed in the past and how they got through it, as a way of providing support for you or your process, that MAY be okay (depending on the context). But if the person is talking about him- or herself as a way of GETTING support from you, that’s a boundary violation. A therapist should not be discussing their current mental health or any problems they’re having. That puts the patient in the position of being the supporter. If they’re just saying something as an explanation for having to cancel or reschedule a session, that may be different; but they shouldn’t be turning to you to get their own needs met.

      One way to gauge it is to ask yourself how you feel after your therapist says these things. If you feel worse, more troubled, burdened, etc., then it’s not appropriate and you should say something.

      Does that help?


  18. Hi kristi thanks for your response! It did help.. I told him a lot was going on and don’t know how Much more I could take and he said to hang there and he would hang in there with me and he said that he was sad a lot too and I told him I was sorry he felt that way an. He said that if we stick together we could get though it.. Then he saw my arms were cut and he told me that I shouldnt do that, that it wasn’t good for the mind and that he used to cut too so he understood why I do it. It sounded strange to me because he has never said anything like that to me before…

    • He may have good intentions, but it sounds like he doesn’t have the best boundaries. In my opinion, he’s over-sharing and blurring the boundaries between you. He may also be creating a situation where you feel more dependent on him. Be careful.

      Again, pay attention to how his sharing makes you feel. For example, now that you know he used to cut himself, do you feel less likely to do it or more likely to do it? Does his having done it give you a sense of permission, like now it’s okay because he’s done it, too? Do you feel more dependent on him to help you get through this? Or do you feel responsible to him in any way? Those are warning signs to pay attention to.

      You may want to bring up how you feel about the sharing he’s doing. Tell him if it’s making you uncomfortable and see what he does. A good therapist will apologize and tighten the boundaries. A bad therapist will make excuses, blow it off, or try to make you feel bad or guilty for questioning him.

  19. So my therapist told me that he felt lonely a lot and that he was afraid of dying alone and I said he wouldn’t cause he had his wife and he said that she never answered her phone when he needed her and he was afraid of he died she wouldn’t answer her phone to be there! Like that’s sad lol and I didn’t knew what to say

    • Hi Jamie,
      It was really inappropriate for your therapist to share that with you. It put you in the position of attending to his needs, which is something a therapist should never do. It sounds like he may be quite depressed and that may be jeopardizing his ability to hold appropriate boundaries. You may want to express your concerns to him and also consider getting a referral for another therapist.

  20. Thank you for sharing your story, it is very encouraging and I really needed to hear that I’m not alone. My situation is much like yours with the exception that my abuser was my PCP. He groomed me into believing I didn’t need a therapist for my abandonment, child physical and sexual abuse which most of my life I’ve dealt with severe depression, anxiety and PTSD. After my breakup with a long time boyfriend and finding out I was pregnant, he talked me into giving me an abortion in his office… He said I didn’t need another child which I already had 2 and it would only make my life worse (I hurt from that advice to this day). I held him in such high regard because he made me feel like he was the only person that cared about me. I went through the whole grooming process, compliments, hugging, kissing, fondling, and sex. He would remind me of the reasons why we had to be discreet and because I held him at such high regard and believed he was genuine I went along with it… He would always remind me of our very different backgrounds and due to social and economical status I would never fit in with his and his family’s Ivy League culture. The end was when he told me he never expected for me to be long term and he has children and grandchildren. I have had a lot of sleepless nights, confusion, feelings of guilt and worthlessness. I finally started to share the secrets of my office vista to my cousin who is a social worker and she told me to report him to authorities because he abused his privilege. I made the first step in contacting my local law enforcement agency and now I need some legal advice because he needs to know what being powerless feels like… What type of attorney did you contact?

    • I was put in touch with an attorney who specialized in therapist abuse, Joseph George in California. There are a few attorneys listed on the Legal Resources page. If there’s one in your state, contact them; if not, contact a couple of them anyway to see if you can get a referral.

      Congratulations on moving forward!
      All the best to you!

  21. Thank you Kristi! You don’t see anything on adult sexual abuse by HCP’s in Indiana and the few stories I dug deep for reflect a poor justice system where the Doctor’s have gotten off and still practice. It actually makes me understand why my mom was afraid to report my child sexual abuse. The officers that took the report asked me more than once if I was sure we weren’t dating and if I positively did not consent to sex? I haven’t seen the Doctor outside the office… He was calling my phone while the police were there and left messages asking me to call him if I needed to talk. I must’ve called half a dozen attorneys and they all denied my claims over the phone. I guess this is why people don’t step up! Thank you

  22. Hi kristi..
    I m in a very tense situation these days. I have recently parted from my bf becuase of some personal reasons. I have been molester by my tutor and father in my childhood due to which i m alwez afraid of men and cant develop longterm relations with anyone. Recently i have met a therapist who appears to be very kind to me. I m 32. I have started going to him for the last è months. He calls me MY SPECIAL ONE every time i go to him. He says to me that only therapy would not work for me i m in distress. So he says me to allow him to sit in his lap, let him hug, touch my cheeks with his n things like thism he kinda transfers his spirituality in me thru this. I feel gud after seeing him. He says to me to b brave woman n for doing this he says to me to change dress in front of him. I have done this in my last two visits. He sits near me at this time but doesnt touch me. I also feel brave ven i m done. I feel gud seeing him n want to get my next visit asap after i end the last. Is it the start by him or i m misunderstanding his kindness. Rite now he is a blessing for me. Please email me at my email adress.

  23. I have a question for those who sought further therapy from another therapist after the abuse. The investigation is in process of my former therapist, and I am so tired, sad, and sick from all of this that I’m not sure I could ever trust another counselor again. I still have the same issues I sought help for to begin with. I’m not sure how to address those issues without professional help but I don’t trust the professionals to help me in a non-exploitive way. I wish this were easier. I wish this had never happened. I’m taking my power back but it is not an easy thing to do. I’m feeling tired and frustrated and in need of support but I don’t know where to get it. I come to this site a lot to help me through this process.

    • Hi M,

      I understand how hard it is to build trust again. It’s definitely a trial and error process when it comes to getting back into therapy and finding people who are trustworthy. I found someone good right away, but even then I ended up switching therapists a few times during the years after Dr. T. That was largely due to needing different types of therapy, but also because some were not good fits — and because I did end up with one narcissistic therapist in the mix.

      I learned how to interview therapists over the phone, ask a lot of questions, and pay close attention to anything that felt like a red flag. Here’s a post that may help with that: Questions to Ask a Prospective Therapist

      The real empowerment is in learning to trust yourself and your instincts following abuse. To stand up for yourself and to trust that you know what’s best for you and that someone else doesn’t know you better than you know yourself just because they’re a professional.

      Even now, I find I’m really challenging therapists around their boundaries and speaking up when something doesn’t feel right, but I’m quite self-conscious about it. It’s a process… And it’s a really good learning experience for me. Even if it makes me anxious, I know I’m better for it.

      Good luck!

  24. Sorry to hear you guys went through something like that. I am a survivor of sexual assault and read many many similarities among apparently different sexual abuse stories.
    I was in therapy for sexual assault many years ago, when I was around 21 or so. I did not have a good experience with any of these shrinks, there was one of them though I liked a lot. He was witty and good looking, a few years older than myself and very humorous.
    I nipped it in the bud, as I was too afraid of men to trust anyone, and I often wonder what would have happened if I didn’t literally run away from this guy.
    He slowly eroded bounds away… became too chummy fro my own good. Nothing much physical happened but our sessions turned into friendly chit-chatting. I realize some people went through a lot a lot worse than I did, still, I felt my story could have gone a lot worse and still struggle with the fact that it might have been all in my head. He flirted with me or at least it felt that way, he complimented me way too much. Then one day he made this borderline “sexual” reference and i was so scared i left therapy a few weeks afterwards. It all seems very flimsy and vague, but at the time his flirting felt extremely uncomfortable, especially when he jokingly made this threat about “whipping me” for being a “bad” patient (girl).
    For some reason it felt icky and weird in a sexual way. A few weeks later I told him to stop flirting with me to which he responded by blushing. He denied any flirting, but i left anyway.

  25. You promised to help
    You promised I would be alright
    So I told you my past
    Hoping it would go away at last

    One day you gave me a hug
    With all my might
    I held onto to you so very tight.
    Then one day you pulled me close and told me how you were a man and from that day on it began.
    I did not put up a fight
    It was not real
    But oh how did it make me feel

    But you never told me I had to
    It was something I wanted to do
    You told me you could go to jail if I were to tell
    I wanted to live inside this fairy tale. At times it felt like I lived in a kind of hell but I kept on telling myself all was going well. Sometimes living in a lie made me want to die.
    Love is funny it has
    No boundaries
    We take what we can
    A stolen hour
    A stolen minute
    A quick I love you
    We live in the moment
    There is no future
    That we know for sure
    So we hold on for however long.

  26. Talk therapy to energy work

    We went from one day to five
    I truly felt it were he that was keeping me alive

    He had me lie down and told me he was using his hands to heal
    Yet always very quickly my body did he feel

    When I felt sad I came to you
    Because you were the only one who knew

    If I began to cry you would say maybe I should go away
    That such an arrangement I could not handle day to day

    Once he said perhaps he should die
    So that I did not have to live this lie.

    I yelled I am okay
    Please don’t go away

    Give me one life
    This has been too long
    I know it is wrong
    It never has felt right
    I just pretend it is alright.
    I will always hurt
    No matter if you are here or there
    Because you are not mine it is not in the design. It was a game that turned into
    Love but with bitter sweet moments,
    a magical land
    Where you took my hand
    Where you helped me stand
    Where you said you care
    How dare
    How dare
    If you did
    I would not live life
    As though my heart has been cut a thousand times with the same knife

    What if I never again see you
    My life will never be as I once knew
    I can never forget
    Never regret

    Already many tears
    And so many fears
    It has been going on for so so many years

    No one to trust
    Even though one day I must

    I cannot tell
    Even as my insides yell

    I would not go to the police
    For me it would not provide the freedom of release

    I just want to be free of the lie
    Free to be me

  27. Kristi,

    I know so well this horror you have been through, and I am so very sorry for what you experienced with Mr. T, who you looked to for healing. I don’t know how you endured it for so long, and I praise you for working through the recovery and also holding Mr. T accountable. Parts of your story made me want to cry, and parts made me so incredibly angry at Mr. T for taking advantage of you, manipulating you the way he did, and then so callously leaving you to deal with the brokenness he left you with — and caused. All the more sickening because he was supposed to help you heal, he wasn’t supposed to harm you. And that is the horrendous cruelty of this type of abuse: doing harm in the name of healing. The worst kind of betrayal.

    I’ve written elsewhere on this site, in response to Michelle’s story. My situation was with a massage therapist/bodyworker who manipulated me into a sexual relationship within 4 months, then used me sexually, off and on, for the next 7 months until he dumped me. Reading your story, I identified with all of the key phases of the process and the accompanying feelings and experiences. I will call my therapist “Mr. G.” Mr. G, too, appeared to be “spiritual.” Having studied Zen shiatsu for 7 years, and attended seminary as a teenager, and now practicing “energy work”, I imagined him to be on a kind of higher level. He spoke of how he was “from a different place”, implying somewhere beyond our ordinary, human level of being. He seemed to see things in me, to read me, and to know my intense feelings of loneliness at the time. Wow, the soul mate I’m looking for! As with you, the sessions started ending with long hugs, and even kisses on the forehead in the massage room. Then romantic emails, intimating that he wanted more, that I was special – blah blah blah, all crap, I can see now. I started to see that he wanted to have sex, and so I wrote to him that I was hoping we’d be friends first, maybe have a spiritual relationship. He wrote back: “Linda dear, we already are friends, we already have a spiritual relationship. Quite frankly, that is what is begging to be expressed physically.” This left me incredibly confused, as I felt drawn to him yet scared about what would happen if I saw him for another session. I was thinking about him all the time, as you were of Mr. T. I had been avoiding seeing him for a session out of fear of what would happen, but he finally convinced me to come to the office, writing that he “missed taking care of” me. Wow, he really cares for me!! He’s so sweet, so gentle! So I went, and the session was incredible. I cried, he held me, running his hands down my back, under my pants, and asking me to come to his house. I was like a little girl, scared, thrilled, not knowing what to do. I was literally reduced to a child, or a young teenager – transference, I now know. I said no. The grooming phase continued with more romantic emails until he finally convinced me to come to his house. And then it happened.

    I am certain now that I dissociated, like you. Couldn’t really feel anything, felt out of my body, like I was watching from above. When I returned home, I panicked, sobbing and unraveled. I felt disgusting. I realize now, 3 years later, that I was having a physiological response to a traumatic event: rape. His power over me was so strong, and I was so weak, that even after breaking things off after this; even after learning that he started pursuing another client one week after my encounter with him (a friend I had referred to him!); and even after learning that he had had sex with yet another client and friend one week BEFORE me — he worked his way back into me within 2 months. And I was hooked. Intense sex, intense bonding, same as you describe. And then acute anxiety with each separation. I was literally losing my Self. Like you, I found myself adapting myself to please him so that I wouldn’t lose him. I seemed to be constantly apologizing for what are, really, normal human feelings.

    It ended when he told me – on the phone! – he’d be leaving town to try to work things out with his ex-wife (they had been in touch throughout our involvement, and I am now sure that everything he told me about their communication at that time was a lie). He told me that he “felt close” to me, that he hadn’t made a final decision, that he’d be thinking about me. He told me that he hoped I’d be happy for him if it did work out with his ex (!), and that he hoped I’d “take something good” from what we had. I said “right now, I don’t think I can take anything good…” and hung up. I was freaked out. I realized it was over. Felt like he had died. And then, like you, within 24 hours anger kicked in. Feeling betrayed. All of it a lie. A year of my life, a lie. Little did I know I had two more years of recovering from this horrible nightmare.

    It took me about 4 weeks to start to really understand that what happened was a violation of me. I then learned more details about what happened with the friend who he had slept with just a week before me: he clearly raped her, and he even took money for a session! I talked to professionals in the bodywork field, and many advised us to go to the police. My friend could not do it, so I reported him to the licensing board for unlicensed activity and also for the sexual misconduct. They couldn’t prosecute for the misconduct, because they can only prosecute licensed individuals for ethical misconduct (since you’re a massage therapist, you probably know about how licensing laws operation – though yours are in California and I’m in PA). But they did consider Mr. G’s sexual misconduct at the hearing and they levied a higher penalty because of it – some justice and closure for me. But, as with yours, it took more than two years!! He was finally sanctioned just this past February!

    What strikes me about your story, my story, and others’ stories is how similar the pattern is: grooming by the perpetrator, subservience to the perpetrator (Stockholm syndrome?), loss of identity, grief at the loss, etc. I believe these relationships are the same as cult relationships, and the additional dimension of the therapeutic aspect amplifies the insanity of it. No wonder it takes so long to heal. I wonder about all the victims out there who suffer silently and who don’t get any help. What happens to them? The friend I mentioned here almost committed suicide because of what Mr. G did to her. And yet she still believed she was somehow responsible.

    And for any readers out there who find all this unbelievable, and who wonder why did you go back? or you’re an adult, you should have known better – I say, until you’ve walked in our shoes, don’t judge. I doubt any of us could have believed we could fall into such destructive involvements. Most of us come from backgrounds that place at an emotional disadvantage. Kristi has written about her feelings of abandonment from her mother’s death. I experienced abandonment too, being placed in an orphanage for 3 years when I was only a year old. And I was sexually molested at 9 years old, repeatedly, by an uncle. These experiences leave us scarred and inadequately equipped to deal appropriately with boundary issues.

    Thank you Kristi for creating this website. As I said to Michelle, I wish I had known about this 2 years ago, when I started my recovery. It’s incredibly healing to share and to know we’re not alone. You are doing wonderful work!!


  28. It is so disheartening that these things continue and these men know nothing about the wrongs they commit. My question is how is it so easy for these clients to go along with the physical relationship. The first touch or first kiss, don’t they set off alarms of smething disgusting? Am I so different that when I went to therapy and I heard some slightly sexual things I just knew I was in a bad wrong place? Maybe these therapists were nice often enough to convince whereas the T I went to wasn’t any nicer to me than anyone else. Sorry to say but I was at the beginning of desperate. And thanked the Lord that I wasn’t any more desperate later. Maybe I wasn’t being groomed as much as toyed with and exposed to thoughts and ideas that were odd and close to bully like.

    • Hi B,
      Thanks for your comment. In response to your question about how easy it is for clients to go along with the physical relationship, there’s not really a simple answer to this, but a big part of it is the grooming process. By the time the therapist initiates the first touch or kiss, the client has often already been substantially groomed for the contact. Part of this is the therapist gradually pushing boundaries, to see what he (or she) can get away with, and normalizing what might otherwise be perceived as a violation; part of it is the therapist encouraging the client to become more and more dependent on him, which brings with it the threat of loss and abandonment if the client refuses the contact. So there’s a way the client gets ensnared and then feels unable to say no. And these therapists do choose their targets carefully — they’re not going to push the boundaries with someone who’s more likely to resist or walk away. A bunch of different elements from both parties come together to create the situation.

      It sounds like your therapist was a bit more obvious in his approach. I’m glad you were able to walk away!

  29. Kristi, I just read your story. As I read it I felt great empathy for you, I’m so sorry all that happened to you. But also, I am very glad you broke away from him. I understand the connection, I had sexual contact with my therapist that began many years ago, almost 40. It has been about 35 since the last time I went to him. But still today, I still have many times that I am triggered & reminded of it & all the damage he did to me. Through the years I saw some female counselors, but did not feel that comfortable with any of them & did not do much work with them. One thing was that some of them thought, said, that I should be well past it now since it’d been so long ago. But I believe that something like this can effect a person a life time, especially if not getting the appropriate help along the way. I am fortunate to have a very qualified therapist who is very helpful and I have had a lot of healing since I started going to her 3 yrs ago.
    Thank you for providing this website. Mags

  30. I have been used and exploited by my therapist of 14 years (more than $55000 out of pocket…that is hard to swallow)

    He lured me in and encouraged me to be his little girl. He believed he was re-parenting me and at the same time he would be extremely cruel. I was so confused for YEARS…he loved me and then he was disgusted with me. My self esteem, already in the basement, took a nose dive beyond all nose dives.

    FINALLY my eyes opened and I can see how manipulative and cruel he is. He is SO SMOOTH it still blows my mind that he can be so good at pretending he deeply cares…who can do that??? A Predator can do that, that’s who. I was a cash cow…great insurance…he got to sit back and collect the dough all those years while playing terrible games with me…many that are so convoluted I don’t even know where to begin.

    What is very clear to me is that he was keeping me sick and twisted up to keep collecting the insurance money…I was easy prey. He took advantage of my neediness and low self-esteem.

    He would tell me everything about himself…his sex life included and how he could really make a woman scream.
    He confused me so much with inconsistency…one time I am doing great work and he is proud of me, next minute he tells me i am dishonest, manipulative, needy and that I play games. There is likely some truth in this but it is unconscious and I am there to get help, not be shamed and ridiculed.

    When I would ask him to tell me when he sees it happening he would say he can’t remember, I would have to ask him at the time!!!! How can I do that if I don’t know! or he says “I don’t want to deal with you” or he says “YOU KNOW what you are doing!! -in a very frightening angry voice.

    At times, when I was strong enough, I would tell him that the things he says hurt and would ask for an apology he would be flippant and say “well, I’m human, I am not perfect”…no apology…

    I worked for him FOUR times…once to do his landscaping at his house. I did a gorgeous job and did it fast. He liked what I was doing but when it was nearly done, he got mean and told me that he did not want me working for him anymore (after I did all the work… i was so confused and he would give no explanation)..he did not want to pay me either. Then I helped him with a book he wrote…I edited and did copyright work…I worked my butt off. Once it was done, he told me that he does not want my help anymore, that he is done with me and my skills were not longer needed…no thank you and he did not pay me.

    He has a Not for Profit business where he goes around the country putting on workshops. His administrative assistant left so he asked me to take over. I did and I did an excellent job. I found a couple of volunteers as well…soon after, i rec’d a phone call from one of the volunteers. He told me that he would be taking over the position. (this was a PAID position) It HURT…being fired AGAIN, I called him (he had not told me himself because he is a coward)..he said “yes I am having him take over…do you mind?” I hung up the phone. and did not see him or talk to him for weeks. (i was at least getting closer to being able to get away from him it seems now that I look back)

    I worked for him AGAIN to do his landscaping! (good grief this is embarrassing)..I did all the work…months of work…at the end he said I could no longer be in his yard! My husband helped with the heavy lifting so we both worked for him. Before he told me that I could not be there anymore, he met with my husband to tell him first and then he asked my husband to please come back anytime and he agreed to pay him a very nice wage. He said, “she cannot be in my yard or on my premises…it is no longer good for me to have her here, it is not working out for me…There is and has been no reason for him to continually abuse me except to have power over me. which i gave to him, yes.

    He has a “harem” of women who serve him for free. He uses up one or two of us and moves on to the next. He told me he believes women are emotional and irrational and that he has to baby sit us and micro-manage us…what I FINALLY realize is that it never has been about getting a job done! It’s about having power over others and to be able to boss people around and have a following of women who idolize him. Once one or two of us get uppity. off we go…but not before he goes in for the jugular to let us know we got uppity and that he is the one who is in charge…it’s a hit and run…I always came back when he was desperate and could not find anyone else (through other clients…i was able to piece together the dates i was working for him with the time they were asked IN SESSIONS if they would take the job!..not knowing someone else was already doing the job.) OUCH!

    I finally see the pattern that I did not want to see…I took it out on myself! It must be me! nope, it’s not…sorry but it is not me except the fact that I allowed it to go on…that is my responsibility. Expensive lesson.

    I have SOOOO many stories that it would make your hair curl. No space for it. the last time he dumped me, my eyes finally opened and, looking back at the carnage left behind is absolutely devastating and shamefully embarrassing to have been SO attached to someone that I was so willing to treat myself so disrespectfully. I was the perfect doormat..I has SUCKER written on my forehead!

    The meeting with my husband behind my back was the last straw. In an instant I detached from him and now I in a grieving process that is very intense (shame, humiliation, deep feelings of being violated, abused used, diminished, betrayed and more) and I now have a new therapist to work on the damage done by another therapist!

    Yes, I am responsible and yes it gives me a lot to work on to work towards growing up but at the end of the day he is a predator and that is just not ok.

    • Hi EACB,
      You’re right – he is a predator and an abuser who exploits his clients, and it is absolutely not okay! What he did was so wrong — and I’m so sorry for what you went through with him! I am so glad to hear that you were able to get away from him and cut the cord, and find a new therapist to help you with the grief and recovery process. Please don’t beat yourself up over this. Consider that you did the best you knew how to do. If you had known how to do something different, you would have. It doesn’t help you in any way to blame yourself — although each of us who has been through this kind of thing has done the same. We each bring our own set of vulnerabilities to the table and sometimes those vulnerabilities make us easy marks. But having been through this we can learn our patterns and do the work necessary to heal and grow.

      Have you (or any of his other victims) considered taking legal action? It’s possible that you may be able to recoup some of the money. You might want to call one or two of the attorneys listed on my Legal page to see what they say.

      Clearly you are very strong. I wish you all the best for moving forward in your life!

      • Hi Kristi,

        Thank you for this response and for sharing your experience.

        I considered reporting him. The therapist I am seeing now said he needs to be reported. I would do it but I can’t face him. I believe I deserve to be reimbursed quite substantially but I don’t know if that would be good for me…and my therapist said she believes it would be hard for me to do. I still think about it.

        Here is more that I forgot to mention..When I was seven a boy beat me up and took my books and threw them in the canal near my house…I was walking home from school..when I told “D” about it he said it was Karma and that I created the situation…I didn’t know what to think.
        And…when I was 11, I had developed breasts and was becoming a woman. At a PJ party, while undressing for the night, the girls snapped a nude photo of me and passed it around the school…he again told me it was karma and that I had created the situation for a reason..he believed that I wanted to be photographed!!! Can you imagine what that did to my self esteem and my feelings of not being heard or believed as a child?? A child who never had anyone to go to for help? Boy did that hurt! That is why my therapist wants him reported.

        When I told him I was leaving him and had found another therapist, he became scared and worried she might report him if I were to talk about some things that had gone on…particularly the dual relationship he had with me.

        He told me that I should know that I hold his livelihood in my hands…WOW! What a trip to lay on a client…It’s always my stuff…me doing something to him or others…he just won’t take responsibility (he says he does, but I haven’t seen it).

        Oh Boy!! I could go on forever…I would love to get some of my money back…I thought about telling him I was going to report him unless he reimbursed me some of the money I paid him over the years but that is extortion and it is cowardly.

        The problem is, he’s continuing with the exploitation of other clients (the ones with low self-esteem)

        Whew! I could go on forever! Thank you for listening. You are helping many people…I know it!

        • It’s astonishing what these abusive therapists will say and do to manipulate people and to mess with their minds. They get off on that feeling of power. And then you threaten to leave and they try to trick you into taking care of them. But as I say to everyone, YOU ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE BOUNDARIES, FOR THE THERAPIST, OR FOR THE THERAPIST’S LIVELIHOOD. This person needs to take responsibility for their own life — and their own egregious violations.

          I would still suggest speaking with an attorney. Sometimes you can work around having to face the person. In fact, I never had to face Dr. T throughout the civil and administrative complaints, although I did prepare myself for it. If you talk to a lawyer, you can at least get an idea of what your options are and how long you have to make a decision. Maybe you’re not ready now, but you could be in six months or a year. And these things can take a long time. So I suggest doing some research so you have the information you need.

          • Thank you again…I have been doing some research about reporting him. I may talk to an attorney. It is worth doing that.

            it seems like a betrayal…it’s hard as you know…

          • I am strongly considering suing him for damages. i would like a great portion of my money back. I am afraid. I do not want to face him and I am hoping for an out of court settlement.

          • I contacted a group called “TELL”. It’s a support group for abused patients. I found a lawyer through them who counseled me no charge (but $350/hr after that one consultation.)

            He is absolutely disgusted with the therapist in question. He went to his website that I referred him. He and an associate told me he in a raging narcissist who is leading a cult.

            He told me I have a good case and he gave me 2 options. One was just a slap on the wrist (suspension/training)
            The other is the full on suing and asking for damages and his license.

            He advised me that the latter option will take years and will cost financially and emotionally. Since the therapist has many devoted, starry eyed followers (He does and I was one of them so I know the hold he has on people) they would back him and then he and the group would surely attack me and take me down. I agree. It was reassuring to have 2 unbiased people look at his site with fresh eyes.

            Simply, the lawyer told me that the way he has structured his “business” he will be very hard to “take down”.

            He and my new Therapist recommend not pursuing the action and to work towards having been victimized to becoming a Survivor. They both have stressed to me that their recommendation is for my health and that they are both:

            a. surprised that no one has reported him (me too)

            b. needs to be reported (lawyer:”He is a narcissistic a-hole, I have no compassion for him…you and your well being are my concern in this matter”)

            c. can’t believe no one intervened…family, friends, drs, psychiatrist

            He said “E, I believe you.” You cannot know how much it meant to me to be told that someone (esp. a man) believes me. The jerk always said it is my stuff…never apologized.

            The lawyer also said that I have already put 14 years into it and it is best to not add 3 more years and more financial expenditure and instead work on moving into becoming a Survivor. There is power in that word and I feel strong when I contemplate what surviving is.

            Just taking this difficult step is very healing. I am happier now that I have found online support, have talked to an attorney and have found a therapist who is witnessing me. I can say that I am truly letting go and moving on.

            Here’s a quote I just found

            “Life becomes easier when you accept the apology you never got”
            -R. Brault

            The predator emailed me yesterday to ask me how I am doing…I deleted it…that is a good sign…

          • Thank you so much for this comment. Every survivor has to do what’s right for them and sometimes NOT taking legal action is absolutely the best thing for your health and well-being. It’s a decision everyone must make for themselves. I know how maddening it can be to feel powerless to stop someone who needs to be stopped, but that doesn’t mean it’s YOUR job. You get to make that call. Personally, I think this sounds like a job for an investigative journalist. An expose is in order!

            I am SO glad to hear you have this validation and support and have experienced the witnessing you needed! Moving on and reclaiming your life is the most important thing you can do.

            And I love this:

            “Life becomes easier when you accept the apology you never got”
            -R. Brault

            It is so true!

            All the best!

  31. Hi everyone, my therapist Rubs my back and holds my hand when I’m upset. He tells me to text him if I need him that he may not be able to answer right away but he would eventually get back to me. He text me one time and told me it felt good to sit with me. And asked me to lunch for our session once I’m just confused because he told me we could never be friends outside of session only in session. I feel attached to him and not sure of what to do. I was wondering if anyone had any advice for me?

    • Hi Angel,
      I agree with Mags on this. Your therapist is crossing boundaries and fostering your attachment to him. That is not healthy and not appropriate. He is getting you accustomed to looser boundaries, which could be part of a grooming process, as the boundaries get more and more blurry. It doesn’t matter whether he’s doing it with some ulterior motive or not — it’s a problem. Also, it sounds like he’s sending you mixed messages, which to me indicates he’s not being honest with you about his motives, and he’s covering his butt so that WHATEVER he does he can rationalize it and make excuses.

      Regarding a therapist of ANY kind touching you ANYWHERE, it should ONLY be with your permission. A trustworthy therapist will always ask you if it’s okay if they touch you, even to hug you. Touching a client is NEVER a given. They should always ask if it’s okay and be totally respectful if you say no.

      You do not want to be seeing a dishonest therapist who crosses boundaries. It’s a problem now and likely to get worse in the future. My advice would be to get a referral for someone else and stop seeing him.


  32. Hi Angel! As I read your comment, red flags popped up for you. On the rubbing your back, it would depend on how it was done, for how long it was and what he said while doing it, if he said anything or gave you any type of body language. If it was just a quick rub, like a pat on the shoulder would be, that would be one thing, but if it was lingering or moved downward I would say, “Not ok”. Follow your instincts in this, if it feels uncomfortable, I’m sure that his intentions are wrong! Him texting you that it felt good to sit with you is a break in boundaries. Also, how close was he sitting to you??? I know that psychologist, psychologist have a little different code of ethics as a social worker or counselor would in some things (small things) , but if I was to ask my current therapist she would say definitely that him texting you that & the lunch would be a definite NO. Take care & listen to yourself & your feelings and pay close attention to anything that feels a little off, it could be a beginning to something more.

  33. Hi mags thanks for your reply he was sitting right be side me leg against leg and he rubbed my back continually but didn’t go below mid back, he kept it on the top half of my back.

  34. Thank you for courageously sharing your story. It’s scary to read about and I’m sure a source of difficulty for you in your life. I too underwent therapy from a long time SY devotee. Although, the relationship did not become abusive and sexual. I was subjected to some very erroneous beliefs about life and about people. The man had Shakti power built up from his long-time practice and it sucked me in and caused me to believe things that now, in hindsight, caused me to make choices that I feel have drastically altered my life’s path for the worse. One of the main issues I wanted to address with therapy was to become clear about my sexuality. I had confusing attractions to both sexes, but deep down felt I was gay. I also had a sense that I had experienced some early life sexual abuse that I had pushed out of conscious memory in order to survive. I was taught by this therapist that homosexuality is only a result of trauma (not being loved by your Father, or being molested). I chose to believe him.

    I ended up becoming interested in SY and got shaktipat and practiced for 5 years. The inspiration I experienced I felt must be healing my emotional heart, which was wounded in childhood. I assumed I wasn’t gay because of my experiences with this therapist. I even went to India and spent a month in the ashram. After 5 years I ended up slowly withdrawing from SY, and over the course of the last 3 years I have seen bit by bit how and why I made the choices I did. It all started with choosing to believe someone else’s philosophy about life and about sexuality. Rather than exploring myself honestly and courageously I unknowingly took a ‘spiritual bypass’ to avoid facing myself and facing the early life abuse I experienced.

    Unfortunately, just walking away from SY has not been the end of my problems. I have found that my energy got opened up in ways that were not necessarily the best for my constitution and the life I was destined to live. I experience uncomfortable Kundalini problems and I don’t want to return to the path now that I can see that my whole impetus for embarking on the path was due to fear and giving my power away to someone else.

    I am beginning to start counseling therapy to deal with my regrets and the anxiety I experience at feeling lost in life. I can see how my experience with this therapist and foray into SY seemed to completely derail my life’s natural process. It’s not my intent to knock siddha yoga as a path. It works for many and brings them what they need in life it seems. It’s just not for me anymore.

    I just wanted to share my story. Perhaps others can relate to some of what I’ve gone through. And my difficulties and challenges can serve the greater good in some way.

    Sincerely yours.

    • Thank you for sharing your story and experience. I’m always curious to hear about others’ experience with Siddha Yoga. I’ve wondered if some of my physical issues were due to having had shaktipat, but I guess I’ll never know!

      I agree with you that while some people really benefit from a spiritual path such as SY, for others it’s a way of avoiding or bypassing one’s own inner truth and power, or avoiding life. So easy to do, especially when you want answers or a simple solution! I’m completely guilty of this myself in so many ways.

      I hope things get easier for you and that you find what you need!


  35. Hey, I’m surprised you managed to survive this. Very very painful.
    My story is bit different. My therapist wanted to leave his partner for me and disclosed after about 2.5 years his feelings for me. We never had intercourse. I love him dearly still, and, remain angry about what happened. It has been a number of years, but is maybe part of the reason I am still single- I don’t know if I will ever be understood like that again. I know he probably still has a lot of pain and shame around it- but I am the one that carries the long term suffering. I lost so much because he changed the rules. It was like being healed and wounded at the same time and very confusing and so painful because I wanted to protect him. If I thought he was a predator, I would have reported- instead he knows I have been to therapy and his supervisor has been involved at different points. Making him suffer for what was a mixture of well meaning boundary violations, naivete, strong romantic feelings, his needs not getting met and I still believe, genuine meeting of two similar souls and a deep care for me- well it won’t heal anything for me, and would make him suffer. I believe he gets what he did. I know he has cried over it. If I ever heard anything similar I would report him. I work with people myself- I hope both of us are better people because of it. So confusing, because at the same time it is such a wonder to me that he would see me with all my warts- and fall in love with that… And I still think of him every day and it still hurts and I carry shame that isn’t really mine. I hate the secret of it. Your Dr sounds very manipulative and like he was lying to himself. I am so glad you were able to take him to some resolution. Be very gentle with yourself and thanks so much for sharing your story.

    • Thanks for sharing your story! It sounds so painful and I am sorry that you are continuing to suffer. I think it can be harder when the therapist is a more sympathetic figure, because you care more about what happens to him. It may be harder to feel justified in your anger — which is truly justifiable, because important boundaries were violated and that is not okay.

      I think that not many people realize just how wounding therapeutic boundary violations can be, whether they were intentional or not, whether they were sexual or not. This isn’t a relationship between two people with equal power. It’s very one-sided and is supposed to be (and stay) that way. Once the line is crossed, it can become so confusing for the patient. We want to protect the relationship and the connection and not feel or fear abandonment by the person who seems to know and see us better than anyone else. But the therapist is not experiencing things the same way — they’re not having the experience we’re having — and it can be hard for them to understand the effects of their actions. Then, sadly, it’s up to us to do the work of healing the violation — which is probably sitting on top of years of other kinds of violations and magnifying everything. It’s just so hard! But what we have to do is take up the challenge of learning how to take care of ourselves and move forward, which can feel really daunting.

      What’s important for you and for everyone else who’s gone through this, is that you must learn to take care of yourself first, value yourself more than you value the other person, and do whatever it is you need to do to take care of yourself and heal. Only you can decide what that is. It may mean that you stop protecting the other person from their own mistakes (which we do in all kinds of relationships!) and let them take responsibility for the consequences of their actions and choices. It may mean completely letting go of what happened and moving forward without resolution. It may mean a lot of therapy and healing work. It may mean a lot of things — but only you get to decide what will work best for you.

      Know that it is possible to heal — and that you can do it!

      Wishing you all the best!

  36. I don’t know if this is me being crazy but I have a weird feeling that my fiancees therapist does not like me she is supposed to be helping him with with his bipolar and ptsd but the last two sessions he has come out feeling resentment towards me and all he talks about is how his therapist is cool she never calls him always texts him for appts and at the first appt she talked about her poly relationship which I think is weird. Today as I picked him up he told me that his therapist thinks I should let him be free and that he does not need me to be his patient advocate and every session he is on the fourth session he comes out treating me very negatively. I do not know what to think I do not understand why she keeps bringing up our relationship.

    • Hi Jen,
      While it is appropriate for your fiance to be discussing his relationship, it’s not appropriate for the therapist to be discussing hers. And it’s also not very appropriate for the therapist to be doling out a lot of advice. However, I’m not sure what to tell you about this, since you don’t know for certain what’s going on. Does your fiance have a friend he might talk to about his therapy, whom you might be able to check in with and express your concerns?

      If the therapist is abusive, she may try to convince him to cut himself off from his family, friends, and you, so be alert for anything like that happening. If she is talking him into cutting ties with people, that’s definitely cause for concern.

  37. Kristi,

    I started seeing a therapist at 25 to help me untangle childhood trauma and sexual abuse. Thirteen years later, when I hit an emotional bottom regarding my marriage, he took advantage of me sexually. We continued having an “affair” for I think two years while he counseled me through a divorce. Five years later, I have moved, been through four (female) therapists, and three twelve step programs. I have been sober one and a half years and my accumulated PTSD is becoming more and more debilitating. Today is the first time I have entered the search term “therapist abuse,” and your story is the only survivor story I have read. Simply typing this response is frightening, but I’m realizing that if I’m going to recover, and break all of the cycles of abuse and addiction for my children, I have to start dealing with it head on. Although this is likely all I’ll be able to take on today, your story has offered me some validation and a little bit of courage. Thank you for sharing.

    • Hi Ellen,
      Welcome to the site! There are lots of stories and resources here, lots to discover. It may be triggering, so take it slow, don’t push it. You’ll know when you’re ready for more.
      And know that you can heal!
      All the best!

    • Check sites on trauma bonding to find out why you entered into an exploitative relationship. The therapist violated boundaries and betrayed your trust. This article reveals the hot/cold dynamic used to create addiction. The cunning freak should be shaken like a bag of garbage. Guys like this freak if you expose their unacceptable conduct. No contact and diversion onto healthy goals helps more than rehashing the past. Some males therapists have major intimacy problems and despise women due to lack of nurture/poor role models in their formative years. Ted Bundy blamed rejection for his spate of murderous rapes. Trust must be earned and you can withdraw the instant it is betrayed instead of scrambling for approval or connection with a walled off power tripper.

  38. Chris60, thank you for your suggestion. I have been so covered up in denial and shame that I’ve been setting this “relationship” to the side, and am only now starting to understand why I’ve spiraled into the rabbit hole the last five years. I’m a big fan of Patrick Carnes, have worked a love/sex addict program, and yet…

    Sobriety is bringing a lot of painful stuff to the table. I pulled up a few articles on trauma bonds and it makes sense why the abuse by my therapist is so much more painful and difficult to deal with that even the sexual abuse of my childhood.

    Great suggestion. Thank you again.

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