It happened in 1986 and has had a devastating impact on the course of my life. What I do with it today is prevent others from going through destructive therapy if I can help it. I have become a certified life coach and Quantum Energetic Disciplines TM, energy healer, and the style of life transforming services I offer are safe, gentle, caring, supportive, educative and victim empowering.
I have never gotten to go public with the horrifying story of spiritual abuse by a female therapist when I was 38 and had just been abandoned by a narcissistic husband who had a double life with a mistress and betrayed all the promises for financial fairness and trust, so that our 14 year old child and myself were in severe peril.
Before this breakup of my marriage, I, who had lost my parents young, received friendship, guidance and mentoring from a Reverend Minister at a Theistic Foundation for Freedom. He taught me the philosophy of non control, non blame and that God is in control. He installed faith in me.
Before my husband left me, I had begun to study A Course in Miracles, published by the Foundation for Inner Peace. A course that is allegedly channeled through a psychotherapist by Jesus, known by some of us by a different name. When my husband refused therapy and mediation for child care, and left me hanging high and dry in a country where I had moved to from Europe for his career, after having paid for his MBA and much more, I sought therapy for myself with the intention to learn how to avoid marrying destructively again.
I was 38, a foreigner, and I did not want to pick a therapist from the phone book. I asked my female holistic integrative MD for referral. She referred me to what later proved to be her personal friend who was not licensed. But this lady had impressive credentials. She called herself a transpersonal therapist. I did not know what that was, but to me it meant she would honor good seeing spiritually-oriented people.
I should have, could have known if I had been raised to trust my intuition. She had an air of self importance about her. I do not mean that self confidence and warmth of a healthy ego and self acceptance, but a desire to impress. There was something imposing about her, and I felt smaller and smaller as I consulted her. She had a Ph. D., was a retired professor from a famous Boston College, called herself a trailblazer in her field, and lived in a very expensive apartment, wore fancy clothes. She kept bragging about herself and her apartment, which she never showed me, even though I was an interior decorator and she showed the apartment to my spouse behind my back. I was kept in her treatment den, which is appropriate, but my spouse was showed around as if he was a friend.
I had been raised afraid of expressing anger. My mom was a nice and caring but co-dependent woman who had died when I was only 14. My dad was a super controlling and emotionally abusive and raging older man, and I inherited the job of replacing her as the caregiver to everyone bereaved in my family. In those days (1964) in my country of origin, there were no school counselors or social workers to help children who lost a mother. School teachers, classmates, neighbors, just say nothing for they did not know how to handle such situations. At the funeral I was told: Be a Good Girl and help your poor dad, your poor little sister, your grandmother etc, for they have all lost so much. Now you can serve. I did—and was abused. So that was the background for my first marriage—I was a caregiver who attracted narcissists.
When I entered therapy I first dared to express anger at how my spouse executed the divorce. The therapist told me I was a BLAMER, and I told her that typically SELF Blame and finding fault with MYSELF for what others do was more my pattern. She told me coldly, “Remind me of that once in a while , will you?” and I thought that was the therapist’s job to make a note of that, and get the picture of a people pleaser who seeks to do love right, rather than a narcissist who has a different agenda. When I was 18, I already read Erich Fromm’s The Art of Loving and I was really committed to rearing our daughter well, and I read a lot to help her and did a ton of volunteer work in her school and community foundations that had to do with serving children. I was good at crying, but bad at expressing anger which terrified me.
However I got disapproved of right away and it got much worse. I was attacked by her for having trusted my husband with the administration of financial resources I had inherited from my mom. I should have kept everything in a separate account and been a financial manager, instead of homemaker who had a husband with an MA in Economics and an MBA and more education and interest in financial matters. While this might have been wise, had I come from a different generation ad culture I do not think it makes sense to attack a bereaved young wife who comes in to process and learn. I also tried to talk about the death of my mother and was attacked when I could not remember all details of what her voice had sounded like, etc. I now have full memory of all details. It never serves a motherless child to get attacked on some deeply unprocessed grief issues the mind is not ready to bring up.
She had interviewed my non-therapy-seeking husband behind my back so he could manipulate her with his version. A NO NO in therapy. She told me that she had been divorced once, but had had the most wonderful second marriage. She sounded in 7th heaven as she described this blissful marriage to me. Boy did I want that also and to learn from her. She was 65, I was 38, I had missed a mother, and here was an older wiser woman going to mentor me!
Being a highly empathic young woman I noticed that she spoke in the past tense about her second husband, so I offered my condolences, I said: “Oh N—-, I am so sorry he died.” She responded: “He did not die, I got a divorce.” As confusion set into my brain and my heart, I asked: “How come? This was such a beautiful marriage?” She said: “He was an alcoholic, so I divorced him”. Well—my husband was a workaholic who had an affair, so I refused to move to Paris with him, where he had a new career opportunity and a mistress, so I also chose to no longer participate in this. What was the difference between me and her?
So I asked: “I really do not understand. When my husband is a workaholic it is 50/50 my fault. When your husband is an alcoholic it is 100 % his fault and not 50/ 50? It does not seem logical to me?”
She became furious and raged at me: “That feels BAD Ingrid!” But it sounded more like “You ARE bad, Ingrid!’ Then she yelled at me “AVENGING ANGELS!” Now the God I was beginning to trust after so much loss in my childhood, through the help of a kind older mentor was a punishing deity for an intensely BAD woman!
I collapsed on the ground sobbing. She said: “Oh wonderful! You are having a religious experience.” I drove home in tears, but also in a dissociative state. It is miracle I arrived home intact. A benevolent angel must have taken the steering wheel for psychotic people do not drive a car safely usually.
When I arrived home I started shivering immensely. I called her. This Ph.D. in healthy services did not bother or ask if I had diabetes and was in insulin shock, or wonder if I was perhaps in a psychotic breakdown of intense spiritual fear. The latter was the case, but she told me not to bother her, she was going out with friends, and I could pile some blankets on myself for I was just having a beautiful religious experience. I became so crazy that I destroyed the Course in Miracles, did not recognize remember my own child and was found by neighbors. I was hospitalized in the psych ward of the local hospital for 3 days, and out on anti-psychotic medicines. The psychiatric staff in the hospital was unable to diagnose me, and they chose for bipolar disorder.
I saw this therapist once more, who said “Oh I did not know you had bipolar disorder.” Well—I did not—until then! She wanted me to continue therapy with her at a significant expense for she did not take insurance. She cost me a small fortune. When I refused to continue therapy with her she jumped in front of the door and said, “You can’t leave! This is relationship!”
I was referred to a kind psychiatrist who told me to report this PhD, but it turned out she did not have a license. When I reported her to the MD who had recommended her she did not take responsibility either for having referred me to a non-licensed therapist who was just a personal friend. When I confronted this therapist in writing she just was evasive and did not take responsibility.
I was treated by a kind psychiatrist, who did not know what else to do but drug me and offer intellectual material of DMS IV terms that I was not educated in. This encouraged more analysis of other people than inner healing of self but she was nice and on my side. Unfortunately I married another man with extreme narcissistic behavior, who also influenced my psychiatrist. I KNEW I did not have genetic bipolar disorder, but I was scared to death to ever experience such a breakdown again, so I stayed on toxic meds for 25 + years.
When therapy did not serve me well enough, I found my way to 12-step groups, such as Al-anon and CODA. I also found my way to workshops for women with controlling partners. My daughter is now a social worker/therapist and I am a Certified Life Coach and Energy Practitioner. I am off all psychotropic medication, but I do suffer from detoxifying my body, my emotions and from Lyme’s disease. I often wonder how my life would have developed if I had a warm, effective and loving psychotherapist.
I used to be terrified of the idea of reincarnation. Today I am losing that. There is no punishing deity, only a chance for the soul to grow from awful experiences. I have been told by a psychic friend that this therapist was my narcissistic mother in a past life, and in another life, she was a child who dies of TB in an orphanage that I ran. She blamed me but it was not my fault. Whether this is true or not does not matter.
What does matter is that those of us who were abused by therapists are much better therapists and healers, if we choose to become healers, than the ones who abused us so terribly. We are more aware than most people of how dangerous a profession this can be.
I am deeply grateful to the Founder of the Service to Humanity Modality I practice these days, whose ways are so safe that no-one can be damaged by opening up. While I am not overly fond of the enormous cost and red tape associated with licensing demands in some states, I also will say that some safeguards are needed for the public. And when we are not state licensed, as is the case with me, we need to divulge that right away and up front. We are well trained and certified, not licensed MA therapists or medical professionals. Clients have a right to investigate our training, get a free session to two to try us out, and quit any time they feel like it without having to justify themselves. And that is how it ought to be in my view of ethics. When I was 18 I was in a European university studying Law and Ethics, and I could think straight without any “mental illness.”
While publishing her name would reek of “revenge” and unwillingness to forgive what was a lesson for me in not trusting people who compete with me or seek impress me with their education, telling the story is healing for me. The healing of the heart is journey of love and tenderness with self and other survivors who hold each other dearly in respect and compassionate empathy. Today I have a warm, loving and nurturing relationship with myself and with Spirit. A Course in Miracles is back in my collection and I am grateful that I followed my own inner drummer, and sought my own way out of this horror.
The reason I am writing this is that she never took responsibility, and I could not protect the public by having her license removed. Eventually she chose another profession and became famous as the founder and editor of a magazine in another location. I did not have a voice. She was “right” and I was “wrong.” This is the danger of many forms of therapy. The therapist has the power and the authority in the room. The way I practice avoids this. I have learned from the “bad” how NOT do that to another. There are other ways of helping humans who seek help.