Good Shrink, Bad Shrink

shrinkTo paraphrase Forrest Gump, “Mental health care is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.”

Reading the comments here at Chump Lady, it sounds like chumps’ shrink experiences are a mixed bag. Some awesome super helpful shrinks, and some dreadful “what did you do to make them cheat” sorts of shrinks.

So today I thought I’d ask for the Best Advice you got from your shrink — or if you had a bad shrink, the Worst Advice you got. Then we can compare and contrast.

If it’s good — hey, think of how exponentially helpful that $150/hour you spent will be for the chump collective. If it’s bad? Well, there’s snark.

I had both kinds of shrinks. The first marriage counselor we went to actually looked like this cartoon above, right down to the sweater vest and patchy facial hair. (Note to my enemies — do not ever piss me off. You may wind up a cartoon.)

Let’s just call him Dr. Hug, a Leo Buscaglia-wannabe sort. We sought him out for marriage counseling. (Because he was on the plan and a short walk from Mr. Cheaterpants’ office. Nothing too taxing.) He listened to my horror story — and I mentioned how he threatened to kill me, “hunt me down and burn down my house” if I told anyone about his cheating. And how he wished his ex-wife dead for speaking with me, and said he would piss on her baby’s grave.

Now, I don’t have a Ph.D., but I think if someone walked into my office and said that, I might stir from my Zen torpor. “Hmm,” I’d think, scratching my patchy facial hair, “We have a larger class of freak today.”

But no. Dr. Hug stared at us wanly. And said to continue. So I added, “And I want him to take an STD test, but he won’t.” And Dr. Hug said to the cheater “And how does that make you feel?” And the cheater answered, “Like I’m being punished.”

Which of course infuriated me. I looked to Dr. Hug for any signs that this might have infuriated him also, or at least caused a twitch across the Zen placidity of his face. Nope. If they taught you not to judge in shrink school, this guy was GOOD. Like maybe he spent his residency in Tibet in a Buddhist monastery Zen. Or had a laudanum habit, I dunno.

As we got up to leave, he gave us his one and only nugget of wisdom: “You two need to learn to dialogue.”

Really? Because I didn’t really think my cheater had a communication problem. He didn’t mumble. He enunciated pretty clearly “PISS ON HER DEAD BABY’S GRAVE.”

I know he meant dialogue as in to speak honestly and openly with one another about our inner selves. Well of course that would be nice. But that’s like taking your car to the shop after the engine threw a rod and the mechanic saying, “What you really need here is a car that runs.” Apparently there’s a small industry for stating the obvious.

Anyway, as I’ve recounted before, my disgust with Dr. Hug resulted in me calling the practice and asking for a verbal steamroller who could stand up to my ex. And they gave us Janet — a tiny, fiery woman with a potty mouth. She called the cheater on his shit. And she called me on mine.

A good shrink, IMO, should make you squirm and examine yourself. Problem with infidelity though is, that’s a double edged sword. We chumps are so good at blaming ourselves, that the wrong shrinks who encourage that “I drove them to it” mentality can be so harmful. No, I mean examining yourself as in “What am I doing here? Why am I taking this shit? Is this acceptable to me?”

The wisest thing Janet said to me in those sessions was “ARE YOU LISTENING TO THIS? THIS IS WHO HE IS!” So when the cheater said patently stupid shit like “I like being a narcissist!” she told me to tune into that. It wasn’t a joke. It was his character. He was revealing himself. He had been all along, but I was being such a codependent chump I wasn’t listening to his actions.

And hey, a shout out to Janet. If you find yourself in central Pennsylvania in need of a good therapist, call her. If you want to do the same for your shrink on your comment, why the hell not? Advertise the good ones, and maybe the bad ones will dissolve into their sweater vests. Or stop getting columns on HuffPo anyway. (We can hope…)

So lay it on me, worst advice, best advice.


  1. says

    Hey, does anyone want to name names? If you have a shrink you’d like to recommend, perhaps start a link over in the forum? It could save a fellow chump the time and trouble of winding up with the Wrong Sort of Help.

    It’s great to read that the majority of folks here found GOOD help, versus the sweater-vested, asleep at the wheel sort.

    • hindsight2020 says

      Happy to name a name, though I live in a smaller city so it probably won’t help many people. I’m technologically ignorant — how do I start a link over in Forum?

  2. Marcie says

    I do believe there are some really good therapists out there. But some that are really flakey at best and damn right unethical at most.

    I knew someone who was a long term AP of a married guy who was in process of “leaving his wife ” for like 5 years and of course never did. Both the AP and married guy were getting counseling FROM THE SAME THERAPIST who had them in group sessions together and provided counseling individually. Really?

  3. Eilonwy says

    The best thing about my counseling experiences was that my EX showed his true colors. He didn’t tell the truth, but he did rant and yell and interrupt and name call and swear in the office just like he did at home. I was appalled and was all set to spackle, spackle, spackle. But when the counselor said, “We will have to set up some rules for communication because the ways you are verbally abusing your wife make it impossible for us to do any work here,” a light bulb went off! We never made it beyond two sessions since he found the counselor “biased,” and “ignorant,” and “fucked-up”–all of which he told her. But just hearing a professional label his behavior abusive was all I needed to move toward getting unstuck. I guess I didn’t need counseling so much as I needed confirmation.

  4. LS says

    Best advice:

    -you will never get what you want: acknowledgment, understanding, emotion, empathy… You don’t get any of that. You get FREEDOM.

  5. ANC says

    I’ve only been in individual therapy for 6 months. I test drove and dropped a therapist FAST because she stated the reason Asshat cheated in all of those colorful ways was because I was too INDEPENDENT. I needed to become more doormat like to make him secure and happy in our marriage.

    I basically asked her : WTF!!?? Asshat and I had dated a while before getting married. He knew I was self sufficient- work, travel, grad school, life before him, and able to emotionally connect to other people ( that interdependence idea). According to this therapist, not being a co-dependent mess drove him to fuck other people.

    I listened to my spidey sense and fired her Lululemon-clad ass.

  6. says

    There was no shrinking Us. Buttwipe was lying the whole time. My Hugger said later, ‘Ohh, maybe that’s why he was sweating like crazy the whole three times he came.” And boy did he punish me for Therapy, being weak, yadda fuck. My original therapist tried to get me to look before I married but I wanted to god damn Be Married. He recommended our–come to find out later– unlicensed in the states couples counselor. I ‘cheated’ on that therapist by seeing Hug therapist by myself later on. I didn’t stick to his rules so he refused to see me last year when I really hit the skids. He saw me through, and I mean years. The whole shebang, death, cancer, marriage, whoops, divorce, and then bang. I swear it’s his original theory; I repeated the same pattern with my own therapist! Who could do that? I mean, who does that? Okay folks: the damn doctor who found the cancer? Tried to kiss me in the ‘bone density’ room, post surgery. I had to PUSH him away. I couldn’t make this shit up. A detective called me last week, cause I did ‘yelp’ on him, along with 15 skeeved out other women. I’m past the statute of limitations but did help his current victim by telling the detective (yes he’s real, I called the actual police department.) He’s head of one of the main Women’s Breast Health Center’s here. I have (had) a friend who still goes to him–when I told her? She was upset that he hadn’t hit on her!! How can I not be utterly psychotic?

  7. SheChump says

    My very first therapy appt was with somebody my doctor recommended. It was just after DDay and I was a complete and utter mess. When I first met her, she was extremely obese and could hardly walk and I sort of thought – gee, this woman must have issues of her own.

    For the next 45 minutes I cried and poured my entire heart out. But, I kept noticing that she yawned all the time and actually seemed to have fallen asleep twice. I wasn’t sure if this was normal for a therapist or not. So, I suddenly quit talking, my eyes dried up and I waited for a response. She said:

    “Get one of those puzzles a child would use with huge pieces. Put all the pieces together except one and let your husband put that piece in place.”
    NO SHIT!

    I reported her to the hospital and guess I wasn’t the only one. She was fired shortly thereafter. Just glad I gave therapy another chance but it was one of my worst experiences – ever.

      • GladIt'sOver says

        Years ago, I had a therapist who seemed to actually fall asleep during a few of our sessions. Don’t know whether I was that boring, or he just was really, really tired.

        • says

          I saw an old psychiatrist once, just when Prozac was coming out. I wondered if I was chemically imbalanced, I am, but they haven’t invented my medication yet. He worked out of his home, which at that time was okay-ish. I said something about staying in a bad relationship because I didn’t want to be alone and he said “Well that’s what most women do.” Then, in his big leather easy chair amid walls lined with scholarly books and a BASSET HOUND at his side, they both nodded off.

  8. says

    …and he wore ‘I CAN’T FEEL EMPATHY’ like a badge, after he earned it in therapy. I ‘got’ him to therapy and went to His Arrogant Shrink’s office with him for awhile. He was fascinated by the Asshole’s success. The best he could do was ask him to try and say three nice things about me…WHICH HE COULD NOT DO!! I was mid cancer the whole time and so fucking muddled, but when someone can’t say three nice things about you…?!! That Dick therapist adored their $275 fifty minute, Good Ol’ Porn Watchin’ Boy ass sessions.

    and years ago I heard, ‘When people tell you who they are, listen. And people do tell you who they are.”

  9. Chump in the Sand says

    Sing with me, chumps! (to the tune of “Yesterday” by the Beatles)

    I’m not half the man I used to be
    I’ve got “issues” hanging over me
    Oh, I believe in therapy…

    (by Paul Aldrich–sadly, I couldn’t find a youtube link where he sings it, it’s awesome…)

  10. Hindsight2020 says

    Oh, my. I see a theme developing here :-)

    My XH lied, lied, and lied to cover his lies for 18 months. First 12 were before he admitted the affairs. That whole year I kept saying to Ms. Hug THERE IS SOMETHING GOING ON HERE and asking her to push him on it. Her answer: “Well, I don’t want to push him underground.” YOU DIPSHIT! He already WAS underground! When I finally got him to confess to the affairs, she said, “I guess I want the fairytale ending for my clients.” She also gave us a sexual compatibility quiz (she probably got that from Cosmo magazine) and ask XH how many sexual partners he had had in his lifetime. When his answer was “dozens,” she giggled — giggled! — and said, “Michael, you slut!!!” Last straw for me was when he brought wine to our session and offered her some. She accepted. I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP.

    • GladIt'sOver says

      “She also gave us a sexual compatibility quiz (she probably got that from Cosmo magazine) and ask XH how many sexual partners he had had in his lifetime. When his answer was “dozens,” she giggled — giggled! — and said, “Michael, you slut!!!” Last straw for me was when he brought wine to our session and offered her some. She accepted.”

      Good Lord, are you sure your ex wasn’t balling that therapist as well?

  11. Chump in the Sand says

    Ok, because I can’t stand to see more people screwed over by Christian communities, I’d like to do a post for people searching for help in them.

    1) People will tell you talk to your pastor. Think carefully about what you hoping for in that meeting–pastors only get 1-2 courses on pastoral counselling, if that. A good pastor will tell you what s/he can or cannot do for you; a shit pastor will take you in for free “counselling”. Just because they sound good in a pulpit doesn’t mean they can help you.

    Having said that, many will know of community resources for you to potentially tap into, and may be able to be there for you like a friend.

    2) Forget those “marriage weekends”. Just…forget about it….

    3) Beware of “prayer counsellors”. All they have to do is add the word “prayer” on the shingle, and they don’t need ANY qualifications, or have to belong to any professional group or ethics board. They offer cheap counselling for sweet fuck all.

    4) Christian counsellors. If you thinks someone/something is good just because they’re “Christian”, please, let me electronically bitch-slap you. A counsellor is good or bad. Use your eyes, ears, and fucking brains God gave you to figure out if this person is a good professional FIRST. I’ve had an excellent Christian counsellor. But not all Christian counsellors are good.

    Basically, think of comparison shopping. Talk to the person on the phone–ask what professional groups they belong to, what approach they take, and depending on your situation, you may need to ask them specifics (like NamedforVera pointed out the co-addict versus the trauma model for spouses of sex addicts/cheaters).

    Good ones will go over their ethics with you (like how far things remain confidential), as well as admit that if this is not a good fit, they may recommend someone else for you.

    • Full-Steam-Ahead says

      As a pastor and professional chaplain, I generally agree with you on these comments, Chump in the Sand. Not all counselors are equal and discernment is needed.

      Pastors are NOT trained counselors. However, some are more trained and gifted in this area than others. A pastor or chaplain who has done Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is more likely to be a better counselor than one who has not. This is an intensive pastoral care training program with a real-world practicum usually working in a hospital/ER setting. And I agree that a pastor who is great in the pulpit may be abysmal doing pastoral counseling. These are different gifts and skills. Some have both but certainly not all.

      I had some HORRIBLE counselors who were billed as prayer counselors. They did incredible damage to what was left of the marriage. And I had some amazing prophetic prayer counselors who God used to bring incredible healing to me after the fact of my divorce. So, it can go either way.

      • Chump in the Sand says

        Oh, I do believe in the power of prayer. But don’t forget, in your position, you probably have enough discernment and wherewithal to know a) if you have an actual mental illness (and therefore know where to go for that), b) whether you need talk therapy more, and c) to read through Christianese bullshit.

        Your average chump, in a vulnerable situation, likely does not have this going for them. And prayer counselling is unlikely to work with a couple on top of it–you had individual.

        Also–CPE, as you said, is more in a hospital setting. That’s a hospital setting. So, a good pastoral minister is likely better in a crisis or short term, rather than the longer slog of marital counselling.

        • nomar says

          I know I’ve posted it before, but bears repeating: Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.

          Just because we want it, or others want it for us, doesn’t mean it’s good for us or that God wants it for us. I *thank God* that my prayers for reconciliation weren’t answered. Or, rather, that they received a different answer than the one I was looking for and that took a while to become clear.

          • Full-Steam-Ahead says

            True, nomar. I am reminded of Jesus talking about God, the Father, who only gives His children good gifts (e.g. bread and not a rock, etc.).

          • Chump in the Sand says

            Nomar, good for you for seeing the positive in your situation. It would be so easy to blame God for not “fixing” the cheater.

        • Full-Steam-Ahead says

          Agreed that, generally, pastors/chaplains are better for short-term situations. However, a good pastoral counselor ought to have the gumption to call the cheater out. After all, a cheater is breaking one of the Ten Commandments! A pastor is called to be prophetic that way at times (i.e. think Prophet Nathan confronting King David concerning his adultery and murder).

          This moral and spiritual perspective plus authority is something a secular counselor cannot offer. I say this to point out that pastors/chaplains have unique professional roles to play other than just referral agents. However, I am discouraged to have discovered few pastors/chaplains up to the task from my own experience. Discernment is needed here just as with going to a social worker/therapist.

          • Chump in the Sand says

            I believe a good minister can have a positive role to play. I just believe it is better in conjunction, or as a support to, people going through therapy, as opposed to couples going to a minister in hope of getting therapy for free.

            • Full-Steam-Ahead says

              Chump in the Sand, I agree. Free therapy it is not. The minister has a different role to play professionally. And I agree that seeing multiple professionals is a good idea (e.g. a minister and a therapist, etc).

          • TennisHack625 says

            I spoke to my monsenior a couple of times. He said simply that if she feels no remorse she can’t be forgiven. As far as marriage he said this is not his area of expertise. At first I was upset about that but then realized he was just being honest.

            • Patsy says

              To all people involved in their church:
              please, please, please PLEASE alert all people involved in counselling, of two essential books:

              ‘I don’t love you any more’ by Dr David Clark, and
              ‘Tough Love’ by Dr James Dobson.

              These are biblically based therapists and pastors who say the forgive, doormat, love them through, turn the other cheek look at your sin counselling is deeply unbiblical, wrong, and guaranteed to end the marriage.

              These two counsellors are absolutely unequivocal about CALLING CHEATERS ON THEIR SHIT. It is THEIR personal and deep sin, and nothing to do with the marriage. Especially Dr David Clark. He is tough!

              • Full-Steam-Ahead says

                Patsy, I really appreciated Dr. Dobson’s classic, LOVE MUST BE TOUGH. I read it shortly after my making some gut-wrenching discoveries. It made a lot come into focus. Same lines and lies. It was downright eerie how the lines laid out in the book coming from adulterers/adulteresses were coming out of my (now) ex’s mouth. I haven’t read Dr. Clarke’s book but have heard him speak on radio (I believe) and appreciated what he shared as well. I do take some exception to Dobson’s thoughts as he makes some statements towards shared responsibility, which I find unhelpful. That’s my take, though.

  12. Chump Princess says

    I believe the MC we went to has to be one of the worst – or maybe not. During the stint with the “first” (first as in “acknowledged” cheating while we were married – if you don’t count the prostitutes/dominatrixes) OW with whom he was making plans to run away, I immediately suggested MC as a way to save the marriage. As he refused to find a therapist, I had to go through his insurance and find one and settled on the one to which we went. He always makes it known almost immediately that he is in the mental health profession. He comes across as very “zen” and contemplative (actually, that’s just a lack of true emotion, but who knew?) as he always does when he strives to appear detached from and above the situation in which he finds himself. After speaking with us during the first session, she tells us that we are not having any problems that she can detect that cannot be resolved through counseling. However, I AM NOT ALLOWED TO BRING UP THE CHEATING.

    Yes, you read that correctly – the reason that brought us to therapy could not be a topic for discussion. He was not going to bring it up because he insisted that the reason he was unhappy was because of me, and I was not allowed to bring it up because it was her belief that it focused attention on the affair and took the focus off the problems in the marriage. The affair was merely a “symptom” of discord in the marriage. Of course, I was so distraught it never ocurred to me to challenge her on that shit.

    She and my Cheater Turd developed quite the rapport. He talked more about his problems at work and his disdain for the habits of our children than he spent talking about any problems in the marriage. I was lead to believe that I didn’t understand his needs, I wasn’t supportive enough, I needed to give him more space to pursue his interests, I should stop complaining about his unilateral decision making which constantly left me filling up holes in our finances and about which he was constantly complaining. She told him that he should stop pouting on vacations and that he was too emotionally fragile to really deal with all of his hurts and problems, so he shouldn’t even try. Talk about being fucked and not getting a kiss!

    I had a friend when I would tell her this would say to me, “She’s full of shit! I’d like to kick her ass!” My daughter the psychologist seemed befuddled by her unwillingness to speak about the cheating AT ALL. Of course, Cheater Turd would come from the sessions quoting her as if she was an Oracle – all things which kept me beat down, spackling and dancing.

    The therapist I saw when I was dating Cheater Turd and my current therapist (I’m noticing a common denominater here) were both very good. Both of them asked all the correct questions to bring me to certan realizations that have really been helpful.

    One of the best things my current therapist said to me is, “I can’t diagnose ‘Cheater Turd’ without ever having met him, but based on what you’ve told me, there is definitely something seriously wrong with him that probably cannot be fixed.”

    • Full-Steam-Ahead says

      My exW is a LMFT, and she was rather adept at getting the counselor on her side, too, as you describe in your situation. I particularly hate how counselors (and pastors, sadly) treat adultery as a symptom. As a civilized society, we do not accept this sort of reasoning in the even of a rape. And adultery is rape of the soul. It is pure wickedness to make excuses for such evil.

      • Chump in the Sand says

        Agreed. Sadly, though, there are still people out there that will ask,”What was she wearing? Where was she and at what time? How was she behaving prior to the ‘attack’?”

        Wish there were more chaplains like you,FSA!

        • Datdamwuf says

          Sadly, our “civilized” society does blame victims of rape. That’s why there are so few reports and so few convictions when rape is reported. Worse, even with a conviction the perpetrators get very weak sentences (see Steubenville for a high profile case)

  13. ChutesandLadders says

    It took four marriage counselors (I’m a Chump) for me to understand that the whole process was pointless. X put on the show for all of them and then reverted to being a selfish shithead as soon as we got into the car, blaming me for “a huge waste of time and money.” Obviously, I was in a hopium-induced coma for years.

    Worst one was a dope who — in the middle of the first and last session — told us our son “sensed we were arguing” when he called in the middle of the session and asked me if I bought honey mustard when I went shopping.

    Best advice was from my individual therapist: “Delete.”

    • says

      The MC was pointless in itself, but seeing how your ex handled it probably helped open your eyes to who he was …. But that hopium is powerful stuff!

      Great individual therapist!

  14. Verity297 says

    Best advice:
    He is a sociopath and DOES NOT care about you!
    Cover your back. Protect yourself.
    Get a lawyer
    Separate your finances.
    Go NO contact.
    Give your children time, they WILL see him for what he is but their relationship with him is NOT your business.
    Grieve…. properly.
    And…. she was clever enough to get me to come to these conclusions by myself.
    Amazing Lady.

  15. Uniquelyme says

    Second OW was a therapist, and still is. That’s how she started encouraging my ex to confide in her by telling him of her background. They met at the gym.

    Worst advice from an older priest I met after first OW: “Just pretend nothing happened.” Yeah, sure.

    Best advice from my last therapist, “Our sessions are not about him. It’s about you. We’ll spend time on you.” And so we did and I just got stronger and stronger and divorce was final after 4 months from the final Dday.

    Best advice from a younger priest after third OW: “If you stay, you are enabling him.”

    • DeeL says

      U, first DD I went to the church and was just sitting there crying when our parish priest comes in and asks me what’s wrong. I tell him my husband is leaving me, he is having an affair. My POS was not leaving me I just had to dance faster, better and harder. Anyway, he tells me nonsense he wouldn’t do something like that. OK. Fast forward 7 years and my asshat ex says that he has gone to talk to the priest, has started “therapy” (once counts as therapy where he learned that he just doesn’t love himself enough and that is why he messes things up). I love my religion, I ponder and think and think and think. Now I have to go and talk to our parish priest, he is around 80 years old, old school and does not believe in anything but fire and brimstone homilies. I’m dreading this, cause I don’t wanna go back, don’t make me go back. I go and visit with our priest and ask him if asswipe told him how he went about the second DD, he had not, so I proceed to tell our priest. Poor father is throwing up his hands literally and at the end he says Do not talk to him. He needs to fix himself and you have tried all you could to be there for him. Blew me away. I was so glad to have gone after that. NC from my priest, ya I will definitely take that!!!!!

  16. OlderWiser says

    Worst: My first therapist’s job was to let me weep and weep. I guess I paid a lot of $$ to sit and cry in her office. She was on her computer most of the time and had a million stuffed animals in her office (I am not a stuffed animal fan, frankly). I really do not remember one word she said, or I said, honestly.

    Best: After the divorce and my move across country, I found a good one on the rec of a friend PhD. The first thing she said, after I poured out my woes, was: ‘Did it ever occur to you that your exhusband is a fucking asshole?’ What?? What?? NO, no one ever said that about my extremely successful wealthy smart funny accomplished husband. But thank you for that insight. B/c truth be told she was right. And I never ever saw it. Nor did legions of his fans. He was a legend in his own mind, and his mother, father and sister agree (which is, of course, why he is a legend in his own mind). And so do most of his colleagues. B/c why? He’s a rainmaker. No one questions the one who brings in the $$.

    • Linda says

      One of mine said that as well…

      Exact words, “What an asshole. You did nothing wrong. What he did is highly inappropriate (younger client). He’s a dick.”

    • hindsight2020 says

      “He is a self-made man and worships his creator.” – John Bright.

      Love this quote. Tape it to your mirror and read it every morning!

  17. TennisHack625 says

    I don’t remember her name but she was great! I only saw her one time and she told me that my wife was stuck in a fantasy that she will never get out of. My wife has a serious personality disorder and her AP has a worse one. She told me to divorce. Not at all what I suspected but told me what I needed to hear.

  18. Datdamwuf says

    My first brush with a therapist was after the DDay and she was wildly inappropriate and unethical but I had no idea until later. She had been cheated on too, how do I know that? She told me ALOT about it, she told me crazy shit she did – it was supposed to make me feel better I suppose but really, my sessions ended up being more about her than they were about me. Topper, when I realized she was not helping me and told her I was going to find someone else, she made it clear that she was hurt. She kept asking me why I wasn’t happy with HER. I didn’t see her anymore and I didn’t see anyone again until my ex pulled the gun on me. I went to the women’s shelter after that and found the best damn therapist EVER. She had me validated and functioning in a few visits, she strengthened me. She was excellent but took a job across country after 9 visits. After that I went through 3 lousy therapists until I found one that was reasonably good and helpful. That last one referred me to EMDR when I couldn’t get past the PTSD shit and that saved me. Literally saved me.

    The EMDR therapist, Robin was so damn empathetic that I didn’t think I could even see her after the first visit. When I told her what had happened to me, the look in her eyes made me cry, I could not stop crying the entire 2 hours. It took a herculean effort to go back but she was able to guide me through my memories and bring me back from the brink of insanity. The kind of insanity where I would wake when the icemaker dumped ice and be sure my ex was in the house, hell if a cat twitched an ear I’d be up out of bed and ready to run. Hyperalert does not begin to describe how I was, and every time I saw a car like his I would freak the fuck out. She got me out of that, she got me to a point where I could say “thank you” I am OK now. I would go back and work out more of my foo with her but I can’t afford her now. Important part is that the PTSD is almost entirely behind me, that is massive. I would give my EMDR therapist’s name but I’d have to ask her if it’s OK first. If you are in eastcoastchumps group and want it I can email it to you personally.

    • FoolMeTwice says

      I’ve only recently heard about EMDR, and it sounds like it could work for me where talk therapy has only taken me to a certain point. Would you be willing to share more about your experiences?

      Since I’m new here, I’m just learning people’s stories, but I must say this is one of the most extreme things I’ve heard. You sound like a total champion. Hats off to you.

      • Datdamwuf says

        FoolMeTwice, since my therapist has a site online I will post it here:

        I don’t know where you live so that may not be helpful, you still have to find a therapist you are comfortable with. EMDR sounded like BS to me but it freakin works, there is a site where you can find EMDR certified therapists and lots of info.

        • FoolMeTwice says

          Thanks a lot, Datdamwuf. This is a great set of links. I’m in Vancouver BC, and I’m pretty sure I can find a good practitioner here.

          As for EMDR sounding like BS, right now (and to quote one of my favourite movie lines), “I’d piss on a spark plug if I thought it would help.” I’ve been in an out of counseling most of my adult life, and while it’s helped a lot, I think it’s taken me only to a certain point. Of course I’ll keep going, but I’d like to explore alternative therapies as well. I figure, if I keep doing what I’ve always done, what I’ll get is what I’ve always gotten.

          Since I’ve been reading on this site, I’ve found myself really curious about people’s user names. May I ask how you chose yours?

  19. Linda says

    EMDR helped me immensely as well. Under an almost hypnotic space I heard the words I was saying and realized how I would never go back to someone that broke such a strong woman. It took three sessions. The third and last one was the most valuable.

  20. GladIt'sOver says

    Right after dday, ex gave me the phone number of the minister at his church, and suggested I go and talk to him, as I was falling apart. I’m not even Christian, I’m Jewish, but I was so desperate, I went and spoke with the minister a couple of times. He was nice, but really basically useless. I later found out that not only did ex have ME go and counsel with the minister, he also had OW seeing him, and ex was also seeing him. I realize now how very exciting that had to be for my ex. He was sort of showing off for the minister, “Look at these two women under my spell!” and the triangulation and general mind-fuckery of it all gave him plenty of cake.

    The minister was WAY over his head with my ex. He was a young guy, and I am sure he had zero experience with a truly personality-disordered person like my ex freak. Ex dropped that church a few months later.

    • Chump in the Sand says

      Like I said in my earlier post- a good minister may be a support, but not a replacement, for therapy. Big mistake.

    • Patsy says

      Wuf, I am very grateful you admit you fell apart. I went crazy with the pain also. I would attack myself to the point of blood black eyes and broken bones, and FEEL NOTHING because I was so devastated and the hurt was so huge. My IC wanted to admit me. I could have easily had my cheater (emotional violence only) arrested for serious assault and nobody would have believed him that I did it to myself. Luckily I am crazy not disordered and wouldn’t do something so unjust.
      I look back now and have compassion for that deeply deeply traumatised person. Although the thought that I lost it so badly frightened me for a while.

  21. Rose says

    We went to two shrinks. The first one was pretty scared of my X I think. He projects anger and barely controlled violence from every pore and she always looked like she was ready to bold from the room. I remember she had us play a card game that was pretty fun. It was answering questions about each other- like the Newlywed Game Show. We aced it. We each got every question totally right, although that had nothing to do with him cheating on me. The second one was a really old guy who rambled a lot but I thought he was good. He told my X he had “a very serious personality disorder” and in addition was probably on the autism spectrum. He told me I was normal, if a little sensitive, and then he said that I had to think about the next 50 years of my life and make sure I live them with someone who’s capable of being happy and giving happiness. (Implying that this was not my X) He recommended further testing, medication, and ongoing treatment for my X. I felt totally vindicated and partially saintly for having lived with him that long.

  22. Gio says

    I found a really good counselor this past year. I’d always went to women before but this time I went to a man on the recommendation of a colleague. This man did so much for me. My self esteem was thrashed. He made me see that I’m really a good person and a great catch and he thinks my X was insane to give up gold like me. He wasn’t hitting on me either. I’d recommend him to anyone. West coast. Spokane area.

  23. NorthernLight says

    Vikki Stark (who wrote the book Runaway Husbands) does sessions via Skype or phone (or in person, if you happen to be in Montreal). I spoke with her a few times via Skype because I figured a few sessions with her would be worth a slew of sessions with someone who didn’t understand and/or gave bad (or damaging) advice to me. She is more expensive than average (I think, I’ve never seen a therapist before), though I am sure that depends on where you live, but it was totally worth it for me because I was able to just jump right in and know she GOT IT. I probably saved me money because after three sessions I stopped and decided I would take a break and could always meet with her again later if I needed to. There was SO MUCH I did not even have to explain. (She survived the same thing herself…) Her website for the book is:

  24. LovedaJackass says

    I have been very fortunate with therapists. I started years ago with a wonderful man who treated me for free for a long time because I was in grad school and had no insurance. I was not the only person he helped in this way. He gave me so many important concepts–most notably the reverse Golden rule: “If I won’t do it to ya, I won’t take it from ya.” I’m still working on making that the default in my life. And he told me “I might as well have been raised by wolves,” which helped me to understand that I needed to re-educate myself on how life works. That seems a lifetime endeavor. Second therapist was the stuffed animal, baby-doll type, Gestalt training. She was warm, wonderful, but tough as nails and never let BS slide. After some years “off,” I had a burglary in my home and a subsequent meltdown and found my current therapist. She is amazing. When the relationship with the b/f suddenly changed, I went into major crisis and spilled about 10 years of stuff I hadn’t told her about the marriage I had ended as well as what was happening with cheater b/f. She almost looked shocked but by that time I had figured out that part of my own problem was spackling ALL of my life ALL of the time, including in therapy (although I didn’t have the spackle metaphor at that point.) She gave me great advice about paying attention to what was happening and taking care of myself for a few weeks until it became clearer what was going on, as the b/f had just had death in FOO. She said it was a good time to work on me. So when D-Day came 6-7 weeks later, and I told her I had found a FB page with one “friend” and had a huge blowout with him about it, I said, “I can’t go back, can I?” And she said, “No, you can’t.” We just talked about this in our last session. She said, “How could you go back? You can’t unknow what you know.”

    She’s awesome. I would not have made it through this without her. I am probably a lifer in therapy, given my background and my determination to be as healthy and happy as possible. I see it as the equivalent of going to the gym to take care of the body or to church to take care of my soul or to school to learn a new field or skill.

  25. FoolMeTwice says

    The best advice I got didn’t come from my counselor, but rather from my family doctor. Right around this time last year, I went to her to renew a prescription (a simple 5-minute appointment) and wound up talking to her for almost an hour. At that point I was in total Crazy Town and had started self-harming, which I hadn’t done since my mom’s worst manic episodes and alcoholic rages back when I was in high school. Anyway, after telling my family doc what was going on, she said, “X is a very sick man. For your sake and your daughters’ sake, you need to move out.” 6 months later, I did just that.

    The funny thing is what happened later that day. I was a lot later getting home than I’d planned, and I was kind of wandering around the house in a daze. I was so weirded out by the whole interaction, and it was obvious some heavy shit had gone down. So when X asked me what had happened, I told him exactly what the doc said. Since we share a family doc, you can imagine what the impact was (and yeah, I know that she probably stepped over the line by telling me). My X said several times afterward that I was really different after this–and he was right. It was the first time I’d had outside validation that the problem wasn’t me, it was him, and that my own health needed safekeeping. After more than 3 years of focusing exclusively on the health of other family members, it was the first time someone acknowledged that I had needs.

    After D-day and discovering what was really on my X’s hard drive, I went crazy trying to find out how this could have happened to me. To him. I scoured the Internet for information on sex/porn addiction, and found a wonderful website called POSARC. There I read about the trauma model as opposed to the co-dependency model. There was a checklist of symptoms related to relational trauma, and I was experiencing every single one. That really saved my sanity, at a time when my sanity really needed saving.

    Where I’m at now, I realize that his infidelity and Youporn addiction has nothing to do with me. Those issues existed way, way before I showed up on the scene, and they’ll probably be with him for the rest of his life. He’s very unlikely to seek help, for this or anything else, and to date has done pretty much squat to acknowledge (much less redress) what happened. Where co-dependency factors in is in the 6 months AFTER D-day, and the choices I make from here on out. Even though his choices were his choices (and I didn’t “cause” anything), I do think I fit the profile of a Co-dependent. To a T. My time in counseling now won’t have anything to do with him. Instead, I’ll focus on why I keep getting myself into these bullshit relationships, and I’ll heal myself. However long that takes, and whatever I gotta do. I just turned 50, and I refuse to believe I’m on this earth to suffer and be miserable.

    • chumppalla says

      Similar story . . . and also so thankful for CL and for POSARC. It’s unbelievable how much impact just having outside validation makes. It’s the years and years of psychological abuse and gaslighting, I think. I’m finally moving beyond needing therapeutic validation. Thank God, because that’s a scary place to be, especially seeing that therapists have the same statistical likelihood of being wingnuts as the general population.

  26. SheChump says

    I finally got a good – well, okay therapist locally. She just listens though. So, in addition, thought I’d try a hypno-therapist -over the phone-! weee. I just wanted to add her so she could help me with overcoming a smoking habit I picked up during this (no excuse) but…

    Sooooo….4 sessions later, $600 bucks, she still hadn’t produced one thing about quitting smoking. Kept saying….we’ll get to that after x amt of sessions. Meanwhile, she sounded like a girlfriend. I’d tell her my issue – she’d say, I KNOW EXACTLY what you’re going through….and go on to repeat her own experiences and her girlfriends’ experiences…blah blah…and I’m like WTH??
    She had never been married – only boyfriends, and boy, did SHE know what I was going through after 35 yrs of marriage! Yes, I was 1/2 to blame. okay. That shook me up for a entire week so I cried and cried, then I realized – what? Then I asked her what was wrong with *her* picker that she couldn’t find a good boyfriend.
    I guess that ended the 4 sessions. Good riddance S.Cal gobbly-gook hypno?-therapist!
    She actually put ME to sleep with her commentaries…

  27. ChutesandLadders says

    CHUMP LADY has been the very best therapy I could have ever hoped for to help get me through the most painful of experiences. Being able to lay my crumpled guts on the table and not being ridiculed, pacified or placated has been the most therapeutic of all counselors.

    Thank you, Chump Lady and my fellow chumps for your compassion, insight, truth and being able to so eloquently and often hilariously express it here. You saved my life.

  28. SheChump says

    annd, for the record, this forum and all the wonderful people in it has been the best therapy I could ever have had. I am on my way to happiness as a result, not because of the few ‘pros’ I’ve been to. There is something very catharic about hearing everybody else’s true experience, feeling their pain, seeing them go through so many challenges, coming out the other side, writing about it, exposing raw emotions, expressing words like we want, and knowing – we all sort of know what we’re all going through. I feel a tremendous connection to the Universe through this group and it has given me the best strength, even over my family, who have been great. Keep writing, Chump Nation! We’re doing a world of good.

  29. MovingOn says

    Best advice if you have children with your cheater ex:

    The kids’ counselor encouraged me to tell my kids the truth about what happened. She said that it was very important for them to know that they could trust me. My ex wanted me to avoid direct questions the kids asked and to let our kids believe that we had just grown apart. That went against my instinct to tell the truth, and it was such a relief to hear a counselor encourage me to tell the truth in an age-appropriate way.

  30. thirstyfish says

    Best healing moment with my rockstar therapist came when she said to me “I never know what another person is thinking. Even if they tell me.” And, I heard it. What she meant for me to hear and I internalized it was that I needed to trust my self. I didn’t know who I was then, but I started to listen to my self and it began to tell me my story and how it ought to be.

    Worst advice I got from a therapist, who is my STBX, a LMHC, was this: “Trust me.” hahahaha. She sucks.

  31. Nat1 says

    “A good shrink should make you squirm” well the ounsellor I saw, 18 months ago, asked me why I didn’t go. At the time I thought “what kind of fucked up question is that?” How can you go when you have 3 kids and a mortgage and, well, a marriage to someone you promised to love through sickness and health, come hell and high water, etc etc? She then went on to suggest it was some how my parents fault and we should examine that next time. I had seen her a couple of times and felt energised by our conversations, but that last time, I felt drained. I had nothing to talk about and got bored half way through the session. So, that was the last visit. 18 months ago. But funnily enough this morning I had a revelation, so maybe she was on to something. This morning I realised I was blaming myself , because I knew it wasn’t right, I knew I wasn’t happy, but still I didn’t leave. I let him hurt me, I really do only have myself to blame because I could have avoided all of this if only I had believed I was worth more, and in truth maybe that does have something to do with my parents, afterall. I didn’t leave because I really believed they would say it was all my fault, that I had made a wrong choice, that I fucked up. But see I fucked up by staying, by not trusting myself, I gave up those years of my life over something so stupid. It doesn’t really matter why he did what he did, I couldn’t have stopped him. But it was my responsibility to ensure that I was happy, and it was my fault that I wasn’t. I don’t know if the counsellor would have helped me come to that same conclusion, maybe I would have got there quicker. But I feel ok. Maybe knowing why I did what I did and accepting what I did will help me to forgive myself. Today I don’t give a flying shit about him.

    Rambling I know, and I think I am pn topic but maybe not explaining myself very well :\

    • says

      Not rambling, Nat1, just illustrating a point; a good counsellor can tell us what we need to hear, but sometimes we’re not quite ready to hear it. And when somebody does tell us something important, it sticks with us, percolates somewhere in our brains, until we see how important it is!

      This counsellor helped you a lot, without probably even realizing!

  32. Drew says

    I realized that in my ex I married both my parents’ worst qualities. My Mom was sparkly, a favorite child and an alcoholic-read that checked out-who cheated on my Dad (a pattern there) and my Dad was a workaholic- read THAT checked out-and perfectionist (nobody measured up) but a Chump as well because it’s easier to just go along with the status quo than it is to do something new-read that scary. I love my parents but I want a better relationship than the one they modeled.

  33. Jennifer says

    I went to my therapist because I thought I needed help coping with my marriage to a man who felt entitled to a girlfriend.

    On the first visit, she told me that our time would be spent helping me find the strength to divorce him.

    She helped save my life. Naturally, he hates her.

  34. Kiwi says

    I am a chump and a marriage and family therapist…first counselor I went told me to just “forgive”…social worker, non trained in marriage therapy obviously. The second counselor I went to was a better listener but her goal was “to help him want the old comfortable pair of jeans (me) rather than new shiny ones”. Wth! I finally decided to go out of network and see the therapist that my grad school classmates were raving about. Love her. Wish I could afford her $100 fee a little more often.
    My DD(s) happened during my last semester of grad school and I let one of my profs really have it when he suggested that the betrayed partner just needs to get over it, forgive and move on. Bam!!!! He won’t be making the mistake of teaching that bullshit to future therapists again.
    At the moment my specialty is middle school girls (I work in a school) but one day I would like to open a practice that specializes in infidelity. In my everyday work now, I find the most rewarding part of my job is helping young girls find their voice and stand up for themselves in a healthy and assertive way…helping them deal with bullies, mean girls and everyday assholes.
    I agree with many folk on here that say there are good and bad people in all professions…I sat in class with completely clueless morons so i know this is a fact. If you are looking for a therapist, try getting a free consultation first and find out their stance on infidelity. Good luck on the hunt and peace to all on this journey.

  35. Lost says

    Wow! I have to say my experience was similar and different in many ways. I had a therapist that sat in the room and made me feel that I wasn’t cutting my cheating husband any slack and added guilt to my misery for a long time. Maybe she was trying to make me see that I had to make choices the real hard choices ??? We moved a few years and found another therapist who finally started to put him in his place and then we stopped using her because no extended medical coverage for this kind if therapy???

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