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All kinds of relationships are based on trust - but the relationship between a client and a therapist is probably very close to the top of trusting relationships. Simply because of the nature of therapy - which involves feelings and emotions and usually very dramatic events in a client's life.

Foremost in a client's mind at the time of entering therapy is confidentiality. For some people/clients it can mean that what is told to the therapist stays with the therapist, but for some clients, a lot of clients it can also mean that whatever is entrusted to a therapist will only be used to help the client.

A lot of people unfamiliar with therapy have a lot of difficulty in understanding that those entrusted to help people often harm them. The therapy industry will argue and does argue that what a client calls harm is frequently part of the therapeutic process, or if not that, is a genuine mistake.

When these mistakes or errors occur - the damage to trust to a client is incredible. And is often made much worse by people around the therapist who have a vested interest in protecting the therapist and the therapy industry. So begins a total of erosion of trust - generally creating problems for a client that he or she had never experienced before

Any attempt to try and sort these problems out means trusting people again - which of course is impossible to do. Most clients who experienced this abuse of trust in therapy - do in desperation resume therapy with another therapist - but with the problem being it seems so unique, and with little or no acknowledgement of it within the therapy industry itself. The next therapist is frequently at a loss on how to deal with the problem.

This can lead to even more problems for the client because - even though he or she as been abused - there is still a certain amount of faith in therapy, that it can sort the problems out. When it becomes apparent that therapy cannot sort out abusive therapy problems - intense anger and despair usually follows.

Some clients link up eventually with other survivors. And with a set of common problems and with no or little trust - something miraculously happens, trust slowly starts to come back. Trust between survivors is usually even greater than trust between a therapist and a client. Sadly some survivors are not survivors at all, or have become abusers - so what looks like a very positive solution to problems with trust - can sometimes turn into an even more destructive trust-busting situations.

Survivors of therapy abuse or survivor abuse - do not have any easy options left to them. Both forms of abuse take a great deal of time to deal with, not recover from. Deal with. Both involve learning how to cope day to day - fine tuning there responses to everyday situations. Under reaction or over reaction to events - trying to avoid triggers. Picking up the pieces of a shattered life, wanting to look forward - but being unable to forget the past.

Many thanks to Beth and MG and the Therapy Abuse list.

Two excellent books on trust are:

'Dilemmas of Trust' by Trudy Govier published by McGill-Queen's University Press.


'Trust After Trauma' by Aphrodite Matsakis, Ph.D published by New Harbinger Publications

To read the preface and the opening chapter (24 pages)of 'Dilemmas Of Trust by Trudy Goviert please go to the link below. Many thanks to Mc Gill's University Press for giving kind permission for the link