contentious issue #1
I have to be brave to get into contentious issues, but I think they need to get gotten into. So here’s one about which I have far too much to say: when therapy does more harm than good.
The other day, for what seems like the thousandth time, a client was telling me about some things her former long-time therapist used to say to her:
"If you aren’t even able to get out of the house to get to yoga class, you must have some deep psychic damage."
This goes along with a theme:
"if you can’t get out of the house, ________________"
-you’re not motivated enough
-you have social problems
-you have poor self-esteem
-you have anxiety
Ok, yeah well, of course you have anxiety, because you can’t get it together to get out of the house. Because getting out of the house is a really complicated task for the ADHD mind. Because the inattentive ADHD mind gets distracted inside itself, deciding and un-deciding and re-deciding whether to go or not to go, what to wear, how to get there, whether it’s a better idea to stay in and attempt to do some chores, etc, etc, etc. Don’t let me get started today on the other stuff, because they need addressing. Today what’s really bugging me is this:
What the therapist said to my client did harm, not good.
Don’t get me wrong; therapy can be really useful. At this point, this client may do well to go to therapy to deal with the trauma inflicted by therapy. Because that therapist was doing what a lot of other people do in the world around us, which is to speak without a good understanding of how ADHD works. I know the damage it does when people spend their lives from childhood on being told their lazy, not trying hard enough, have things wrong with them, and that’s why they’re not doing "good enough." That sucks, folks, it just sucks. But when a therapist does it, it’s hard for me to forgive. It means they haven’t learned about ADHD, which isn’t exactly a rare disorder. I’m not sure if that’s worse, or if it’s worse that they just don’t seem to be listening carefully, fully, compassionately; but that may just be my own bias.