Therapy - no idea what ASD is - should I complain?

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carbonmonoxide
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19 Mar 2016, 2:38 am

Last year I used to attend weekly therapy sessions, for around 5 months time. I did not know at the time I may be on the spectrum.
First 4 months helped me a great deal and the last couple of sessions I felt like I want to scream. We talked about some stressful experiences from my childhood, which was a relief to finally be able to talk about it with someone, she also pointed out that I'm lacking of communication skills and we did some work on that.

I remember also telling her a couple of times at first that it often happens to me that peoople insist on giving me advices and harrasing me with their support then I feel absolutely fine, and whatever I say, won't stop them. She said it's lack of confidence, what I know now it was my inability to communicate my feelings with my body language as, when I'm the most relaxed I look low energy and probably slightly depressed.

So what happened after those 4 months was: I started realizing that even though I had some difficult experiences because of my family problems, those weren't really that traumatic and can't be an expalnation of my problems with people. When I was trying to tell her that she was like: no, no, no, it did affect you, you just want to admit it becasue it's too paintful. Or she was telling me that I'm not confident with guys. I did complain about my relationships but never said I'm not confident, I always had good relations with guys and only when it started getting a bit more serious things weren't working out. Now again I know: my inability to listen, and see when they may be not happy about what I said or did; where my ability to appear confident would make things worse as guys would think that I'm just ignoring their feelings.

So I did tell her that I never said I'm not confident and that there is something else going on that is making things go wrong but I don't know what. And she would be like: oh, ok. And the next session she was: you need to be more confident with guys because otherwise they would never respect you. Or she told me that I can't find a happy relationsh because I don't feel that I deserve. I had a bit of thinking and said: no, I believe I deserve it, but it just doesn't work for some reason, and then her response was that I need to really look into how I feel because I probably don't feel it deep inside my heart.
Or she told me that my female friendhips don't work out because those girls are just jealeuos.

And so on... will not be giving here all the details but in general it was exactly the experience that I complained to her I had with other people: she was insisting I had problems in arears that I felt fine and completely ignored what I was trying to tell her I feel is going wrong. That was my experience with the last 4 sessions.

During that time, as a total coincidence outside of therapy, I realized I am probably on the spectrum, and my dad is too (not bipolar like he was diagnosed).
So I went to this last appointment and told her that and then she was: oh, so maybe it's because your mam was angry with your dad when she was pregnant with you? You now, there are those dissorders like FAS, that child will develop because woman drinks while she's pregnant. I found that absolutely unprofessional and rude, if I wasn't an aspie, I would probably just walk out of the door, but I stayed there and talked to her. Only later I sent her an email how much I didn't like that and never went back.

I was diagnosed a couple of days ago and sent her an email about it, and also said I really can't believe she didn't notice anything and asked her about the contact to her supervisor, she refused but offered to meet me face to face. For that I refused because she would just say a couple of nice words of apology and I would be like: yes, yes, you're right. I don't even want money back or anything but find totally unacceptable that she doesn't want to admit her mistake and learn from it. She is like: but you used to tell me you find the therapy beneficial? Well, yes, but if I didn't coincidentally found out that I'm on the spectrum I would be probably still coming to see her and dwelling on the trauma that I didn't have instead of trying to develop some coping skills.

So I believe she will give similar treatment to other undiagnosed aspies, and because we have more traumatic experiences that NTs, it will be easy to find something. So I said I will complain. And she said she will check with BACP what to do about me (????) She also didn't even acknowledge that I was diagnosed (maybe she doesn't believe that as it all went very quick).

I know if I want to complain I need to come up with an idea of a satisfying outcome, but what would that be? At the moment I am so upset with her ignorance that I would request her not to do the job any more, but I don't think that is possible.

What would your suggestion would be and do you think it's worth it, in the name of others undiagnosed and struggling?



kraftiekortie
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19 Mar 2016, 8:10 am

If this therapist was "forced" upon you, I might have a chat with somebody who is "above" the therapist--but wouldn't "complain," per se. I would just voice my concerns about the therapist's lack of knowledge of ASD's. I would then ask for a therapist who specializes in ASD's.

If this is a private therapist, I would just switch therapists, and seek out one who specializes in autism.



carbonmonoxide
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19 Mar 2016, 11:57 am

She's private.
I don't even want my money back, although the last 4 sessions were 160 pounds, she could probably donated it to National Autistic Society.

However, my point is, if I didn't find out, totally by coincidence, that I may have ASD, I would still probably be trying to 'deal with trauma' that stopps me from being a confident, assertive person. And if you look at things like that, the trauma only seems bigger... And with her approach and evident inability to admit she needs to learn, she will be treating other undiagnosed aspies the same way as me.

I feel like I should get her to learn. Although at some point I had the idea she was being manipulative.



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19 Mar 2016, 2:42 pm

Hi there,

I've been in a similar situation myself in the past. My first two periods of CBT, long before my diagnosis, often ground to a halt because the counsellor wanted to blame innate autistic traits on psychological trauma or even just "negative thinking." I would then feel awful about my inability to use the techniques I was taught to change my behaviour. The counselling was not only unsuccessful, but actually made my anxiety and loneliness worse.

I now see a counsellor who is very knowledgeable about autism and the problems it can cause for patients. The difference is astounding - I'm finally making progress, and no longer feel frustrated that I'm not really being listened to.

Trying to pin the suggestion of autism on your parent's relationship when you were little is very presumptuous, and indicates a total lack of understanding. That did used to be the common explanation for autism ("refrigerator mothers" was the horrible term they used to use). However, that explanation was debunked many, many years ago. This suggests that your counsellor has little or no training in autistic issues, and that what she does "know" is woefully inaccurate and behind the times.

I would second Kraftiekortie's suggestion. There is little point facing her directly about it, as it doesn't look like she's willing to admit to any shortcoming. Approach her superiors if you can, with a clear statement of how you feel about her performance, always remembering to attack the behaviour, not the person. Her superiors may even welcome a clear indication of where their service is failing people, and it might help them to identify staff besides this one person who need to update their training and learn some new skills.


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schots
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19 Mar 2016, 8:38 pm

Do you know what level of qualification she has? She does appear to be rather incompetent from what you have said. As for complaining, unless the sessions where recorded then she will probably make out that you have misconstrued what she was trying to tell you. It is a major advantage that you sent her e-mails with your complaints, I would review these exchanges as these will probably be your only supporting evidence for a complaint.

How were you diagnosed, private or NHS?, you could ask the psychiatrist/psychologist to give a statement about there initial impression of you (i.e. whether you should obvious autistic traits). Also you must have been referred to ASD diagnosis service by a GP? so you could ask them as well.

Found this link

BACP

I don't think you have to decide what a satisfying outcome would be, if you read FAQ on the link it says that you just have to prove how she was unprofessional and didn't abide by the Ethical Framework for Good Practice in Counselling and Psychotherapy. You have to use these regulations to frame your case with supporting evidence (emails, letter GP etc). Then the complaint will be reviewed by an independent panel to see if you have a valid case, then if its approved it passes onto to another committee to determine if their is any action required - they will decide if any sanction is appropriate.

The above is obviously a formal complaint, it depends on what level you want to take it too and how aggrieved you feel.



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19 Mar 2016, 9:38 pm

I think that therapist sounds like she wanted to write her own narrative regardless of what you said, but that isn't exactly complaint worthy but rather just a crappy therapist. The inappropriate comment about your mom drinking while she was pregnant which I assume was an assumption on her part is something you can complain about because it is unprofressional. When making formal complaints, you should stick to explicit examples rather than complaints based on subjective examples unless you have mountains of them even if you are absolutely right. Explicit examples like her inappropriate statement about your mom are much harder for her to weasal her way out of or explain away.

As for her inability to detect your autism, well let me tell you that the average mental health, or even any healthcare worker in general doesn't have the slightlest clue when it comes to recognizing those on the autism spectrum except those who are low functioning so I wouldn't bother making a complaint on those grounds.

I have seen close to 200 doctors, of those about a dozen of them were psychiatrists, many therapists/social workers, and about 5 or so psychologists in the last 10.5 years and only 1 psychiatrist and one physician were able to agree that I was "probably either Aspergers or HFA", but only AFTER I suggested it and presented a lot of evidence which I prepared before hand to make my case, and both lacked the authority to give an official diagnosis. It wasn't until I went searching for a private neuropsychologist who specializes in diagnosing adults did I finally get properly assessed and diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. Yes, that many people missed it despite being told at the end of the assessment that they had no idea how so many signs were missed(a rhethorical statement/question which I actually answered until I figured out it that it was rhetorical lol).


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League_Girl
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19 Mar 2016, 9:46 pm

She didn't sound like the right therapist who knew nothing about autism. I honestly wouldn't go see someone if they knew nothing about it. My mother took me to a therapist once in junior high and it turned out she didn't know what Asperger's was so my mom stopped taking me to her. She said she wasn't the right therapist. I remember I liked her but there was no connection between us, no feelings so I wasn't upset when I noticed I hadn't gone to her so I asked my mother about it and that was when she told me.

If there is anywhere online where you can leave a review about her, I would just say something like "Not a good therapist for someone who has autism spectrum disorders, knows nothing about it" so that way others have a warning about her.


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19 Mar 2016, 11:26 pm

Unfortunately this is very common amongst therapists that have very little experience with those on the spectrum! It is called the ""Hidden disability"", for a good reason, over time we have managed in some part to hide what is going on on the inside, so when confronted with a therapist they will try a cognitive approach based on an NT mind frame/biology... Apies are seen as individuals that have a hard time understanding "" Theory of mind"", however this is the same in reverse for NT's and therapists! people cant fully understand what they dont experience themselves! In my case after my first session with a new therapist, she was looking at trying cognitive flooding for social situations!.. For those on the spectrum, this is absolutely the worst approach imaginable, she knew i was sent to her because i was suspected of being on the spectrum, and had also mentioned that i had got into effects lighting, for functions/weddings etc to try and combat my social overload, but it only got worse, and i would stand frozen in a corner, or retreat to my van till the event was over, but despite me telling her this, she wanted to try cognitive flooding!,There were a number of discussions that came, up, but what i had found was she was very tunnel visioned in her approach, despite wanting to learn, she would revert back to the old myths associated with the spectrum, she would also get me to me to fill out questions, that had grammatical errors in them, and as i didnt correct them, she would be confused as to why i didnt, well i am 40 years old, and have learnt alot of the NT ways of what is socially acceptable ( to a level) and just because i didnt correct the mistakes, but noticed them, it doesn't mean any bit of difference, there are many stereo types that need to change, and only those that wish to listen , and not take literally papers that were written 20+ years ago about the misconceptions of said individuals, and realize the word ""SPECTRUM"" is identified as a broad term, then these individuals will always be close minded!... It also seems funny as they will often take literally what is written as ""FACT"" by an NT scholar but when confronted with the question of whether they have spent time talking to individuals on the spectrum, of observed sites such as this, that you find they dont! Not very scientifically accurate i would say!! !! !... Even giving a compelling argument that makes sense and can prove certain wrong ideologies, they can still be very blind and tunnel visioned to misunderstanding of the reality of the minds biology of those on the spectrum, its sad but true! I had trust in the system when i first started this journey over a year and a half ago, now i have realized how wrong i was to put that trust into an area with people that have very little understanding or knowledge in this area and think its vitally important to seek a professional, that has extensive knowledge in this area, as for them they do want to learn and understand!... I feel maybe in your case, complaining isnt the best option, i understand your frustration, but its like trying to tell a fish how to walk! it will likely not make any difference unless she extensively researches the subject, but even then, unless you are on the spectrum she will unlikely understand or grasp the understandings associated with it!... for me, i was getting more and more frustrated with the system and its approach, but am now looking at it differently, now i am observing all the flaws in the system, its misconceptions, and the false ideologies, and taking note, and when i do come to the end of that road, i will be looking at publishing my experiences and becoming an advocate to re-educate such individuals of the truths surrounding the mind frames and difficulties associated with said spectrum... Its not been an easy journey, but has been very enlightening to learn how far off many so called professionals are! This may sound a little crude but does have a point, You wouldn't tell a male to insert a tampon once a month! Why you ask, because the DSM-V says so! Crude yes, but understanding a male brain and biology is different from a female brain as is a specrumite is different from both, its attitudes and knowledge that needs to change, not creating confrontation and arguments, its hard to swallow the frustration, but at times we must so as we can get our true story across! :)



carbonmonoxide
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20 Mar 2016, 12:54 am

Uncle wrote:
I feel maybe in your case, complaining isnt the best option, i understand your frustration, but its like trying to tell a fish how to walk! it will likely not make any difference unless she extensively researches the subject, but even then, unless you are on the spectrum she will unlikely understand or grasp the understandings associated with it!... for me, i was getting more and more frustrated with the system and its approach, but am now looking at it differently, now i am observing all the flaws in the system, its misconceptions, and the false ideologies, and taking note, and when i do come to the end of that road, i will be looking at publishing my experiences and becoming an advocate to re-educate such individuals of the truths surrounding the mind frames and difficulties associated with said spectrum...


So complaining would be a way of advocating for us, don't you think?



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20 Mar 2016, 1:42 am

carbonmonoxide wrote:
Uncle wrote:
I feel maybe in your case, complaining isnt the best option, i understand your frustration, but its like trying to tell a fish how to walk! it will likely not make any difference unless she extensively researches the subject, but even then, unless you are on the spectrum she will unlikely understand or grasp the understandings associated with it!... for me, i was getting more and more frustrated with the system and its approach, but am now looking at it differently, now i am observing all the flaws in the system, its misconceptions, and the false ideologies, and taking note, and when i do come to the end of that road, i will be looking at publishing my experiences and becoming an advocate to re-educate such individuals of the truths surrounding the mind frames and difficulties associated with said spectrum...


So complaining would be a way of advocating for us, don't you think?



Well, yes your right to some degree! :)... But i dont think ""Complaining"", would be the answer so to speak, but a dialogue instead, rather than look at the downfalls of said professionals understanding would be better ""Educating""... Also have to keep in mind, there are MANY different forms of psychological awarnesses that a psychologist has to learn and understand, many take interest in certain fields but learn little about others, and especially if you are high functioning, it can be harder to detect, hence why many feel if you do see someone that you are better seeking a professional that has extensive time and research in this area even if it does take longer to see them... So complaining would be counter productive in some ways, but an open dialogue to educate i think would be a better way to get point across :)



carbonmonoxide
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20 Mar 2016, 1:53 am

She doesn't want to do dialogue, as I said she didn't even acknowledge my diagnosis.

Yes, I can look for someone qualified in autism now but then I couldn't as I didn't know I'm on the spectrum and I bet there are many more unaware aspies out there trying to find some form of therapy.



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20 Mar 2016, 6:31 am

carbonmonoxide wrote:
She doesn't want to do dialogue, as I said she didn't even acknowledge my diagnosis.

Yes, I can look for someone qualified in autism now but then I couldn't as I didn't know I'm on the spectrum and I bet there are many more unaware aspies out there trying to find some form of therapy.


its a hard one, as despite wishing to educate all that maybe ill informed, there is some truth to the old saying, "You can please some of the people some of the time but not all the people all of the time"" This i was trying to point out in my original post ( maybe not so clearly, sorry :) )..Some will want to have an open dialogue and learn/understand, but then there are some that no matter how great a logical explanation you have, they will be set in their ways and will not be easily swayed... As you have mentioned you have just found out you are on the spectrum, and like myself you may have gone through life looking for many answers to why you are or feel the way you do, and im sure now that you a reading up on this area you are getting alot of "" Aha", "WTF", moments and possibly finding some sort of relief that some of the difficulties you may have faced, are not your fault! and the confusions have many answers... All i could suggest maybe at this point in time, is to do some reading/research in this area to help understand yourself a little better... As this has helped me a great deal! Its hard, going through 40 years knowing your different but dont know why, and why despite being treated like crap alot of the time, we often still persevere to help others... Its not so much reinventing yourself, but time to forgive yourself, as i carried alot of guilt, wandering what i may have done wrong, only to realize i hadn't really done anything wrong, people just saw me as a little different, and people tend to fear what they dont understand, and therefore, bullying can be a large factor... Focus, on what does make you happy, and read more on the spectrum, i am finding out new things everyday that i thought was connected with hearing difficulties etc when i was younger, ie, off balance, veering off to one side when walking in a straight line,bumping into doorways, all this i put down to tinnitus, but this does not seem to be the case... You will find many new things that will explain some of your ""Quirks"", thoughts/feelings... It can be alot to absorb.. but also it is also very rewarding, and there are some amazing individuals here you will rarely come across elsewhere.... These are just my thoughts in reflection to some of my experiences and feelings... However This doesn't mean everyone feels the same, hence why it is a spectrum, but at times, there maybe a comment or a discussion that you can relate to where in the past you may have felt the only one alive to feel that way, and maybe felt afraid to share those pains because of stigma therefore keeping it locked inside!... If you feel a complaint will accomplish something positive then fair enough, take that avenue, but if she seems as closed minded as you have portrayed, i would put that positive energy into yourself now :)