I really like this article by Lance Dodes. It is a direct attack on two-hatter therapists. Dos and Donts in Psychotherapy for People with Addictions
I just attempted to contact Strong Families Schenectady to ask them how I could mend a relationship problem with my sister over what agreements were made in a therapy session with David Olsen and XXXX of Samaritan Counseling Center. I thought I agreed to try rehab (again) if my therapist was able to communicate with the providers and I could talk to her, but all the 12-steppers (including my family member) can’t seem to remember that or make any sense of why it bothered me that the agreement disappeared. The way I remember it, I went through about five months of finding a rehab (rejecting the $17,000 one), getting terminated from an outpatient rehab because it wasn’t helpful and it was costing me $265/week (I did eventually end up with a discount for out-of-pocket payment) for one 1.5 hr group session which one counselor decided was unethical (they were used to billing Medicaid), and seeing an ‘addiction specialist’ for $110/week without ever being able to talk to my therapist about the misinformation she received (such as that my termination from the rehab was about ‘noncompliance’ and that ‘seeing her would distract me from my recovery’). It felt like some serious triangulation. I’m hoping they’ll get back to me shortly with an answer. It felt like being isolated in a 12-step trap with no way out.
[no response yet]
Here’s an actual helpful message from an LCSW in response to my complaints about 12-Step coercion in therapy.
Hi Tom, I’ve been a practicing LCSW for @ 30 years. I stumbled on your Facebook page. I “wandered” around reading your document recounting your experiences w Samaritan. Obviously there is much I don’t know but I was deeply saddened by your experience. Although I do not specialize in addiction I have worked in rehab programs and seen individuals for therapy dealing w addiction related issues. I remember hearing in a graduate course I took on addictions that the stubborn endorsement of 12 step programs as the “only” solution is an attitude that is uniquely American. That, in fact, in Europe there are other highly regarded therapies. I am not familiar w the alternatives but am intrigued by other options that you mention. As a therapist I tell my clients that it is not my job to give them solutions but to help them arrive at solutions that work for them. As part of that commitment I consider it my responsibility to educate myself about alternatives. Although I have been in practice for a long time I view every new counseling experience as an opportunity to learn something new or see things from a different perspective. I wonder if the therapists with whom you tried to work were threatened by your intelligence and your desire to look at therapies with which they were not familiar.
Anyway, none of this changes anything but I wanted to say that I apologize on behalf of others who may through their own insecurities have in fact made your journey more difficult. Reading your information has challenged me to begin to educate myself in alternatives to 12 step programs.
Now, compare this to Samaritan Counseling’s response (a termination letter):
“Lastly, it has come to our attention that multiple copies of your letters were received by the center. One of which was not by the use of the US Postal Service or any other third party delivery system [note: the therapist’s office was closer to me than the post office, just a few blocks away from my home.]. It was apparent that the letter had been hand-delivered to our satellite office in Delmar, NY. As a result, this letter is also being written to inform you that under no circumstances will any further personal contact with the center, its satellites or its personnel be allowable.” – David Olsen Executive Director of Samaritan Counseling Center of the Capital Region, and Jenness Clairmont, former Clinical Director of Samaritan Counseling Center of the Capital Region, and board member of the NYS Department of Education Office of Professions (licensing board)
Now, that sounds rather cultish. (More importantly, it made me feel like some kind of criminal for trying to give them some honest feedback.)
This video describes how the powerlessness concept of Alcoholics Anonymous just doesn’t suit many people at all. It also describes a situation similar to mine where a man had been making good progress with a therapist, and then was terminated because he wouldn’t go to AA. He also explains why he thinks it’s malpractice to continue to bludgeon people into AA.
But it’s not just that AA is a bad modality for some people. There is more to the picture about why AA and organizations like Samaritan Counseling suppress information and negative feedback, mainly big money being made in the rehab industry:
Hey Samaritan Counseling Center:
A complaint is not harassment. Businesses handle valid complaints all the time without calling the complainant insane.
A Yelp review is also not harassment.
Time to start getting honest and let people know that you are a 12-step front organization accredited by Samaritan Institute.
20,000 sessions per year need to know what’s going on.
Full blog post: “Help”
“We sacrificed our financial well being and enjoyment for the sake of speaking the truth to others about the malpractice and fraud of the 12 step cult and its business arm, the 12 step rehab industry. We discovered that the cult had tinkered with regulatory policy, the media, and law, to secure its dominance over substance abuse treatment and absolve any liability for its errancy. We found an evil that we never knew existed.”
“…we were not powerless over alcohol but that we had become powerless over our tormentors and quite by their design.”
“We asked our government: why was this was allowed to persist, unregulated and opaque, devoid of meaningful opposition and scrutiny? We contacted attorneys and the media, only to have the door slammed in our faces. Only then, we realized that the power to overcome our substance abuse was within us always, and that it was our tormentors who had attempted to take this away for the service of their own ideologies and for their own financial beneficence.
We told our tormentors that: mental servitude to a system of irrational and logically circuitous beliefs was not ‘help’, that this exacerbated our recovery, and was grossly and medically inappropriate.
Having had this ‘awakening’ we left Alcoholics Anonymous. We chewed our limbs off to free ourselves from the 12 step cult and the well designed, insidious, psychological steel trap in which we had become ensnared.
We told our tormentors: “you did nothing to help us” and…
we left AA”
Thanks to a friend who is trying to contact Samaritan Counseling Center of the Capital Region on my behalf about this serious issue (as I am forbidden to). Samaritan Counseling is not responding.
The therapists currently employed/supervised by David C. Olsen PhD, who will effectively be directing your treatment, are listed below. You can expect similar treatment from any one of them.
David C. Olsen
This kind of ‘treatment’ should be illegal. I created this movie after a couple of months of wondering what to do if Samaritan Counseling Center of the Capital Region was not willing to acknowledge the content of my complaint about AA coercion. (They acknowledged the letter and said nothing about its content, only that I had sent one copy without a stamp and therefore ‘under no circumstances’ was I to have any further personal contact with anyone at Samaritan Counseling, as if delivering a complaint incorrectly was breaking some kind of boundary I was unaware of.)
I spent $300 to subscribe to this cartoon making service, and sat down with my records, writing down a transcript of critical experiences in therapy (much of it is verbatim from records or memory). It was somewhat cathartic, because I didn’t know how to explain my experience to other people. Then I was afraid to show it to people; but when I did finally start sharing it, I was happy to see comments from many people who related to what I was trying to express. My view of the situation hasn’t changed much since then, but I have seen that this is not an isolated incident; it’s a pattern of mistreatment by addiction professionals and other professionals who feel afraid or incompetent to question them.
I originally intended this to be an abstract expression of the experience of AA coercion. But after having multiple Yelp reviews removed and Yelp accounts deleted, I decided to put their name on it, so that it shows up in search results for Samaritan Counseling in general. It’s one thing to have gone through something like this; it’s another thing to not get a reasonable response; it’s yet another thing to not have any way to tell other consumers about it because you are being censored by people who feel they need to hide the truth. That’s what’s great about the internet!
“The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection.”
In response to my letter of concern about 12-step coercion and suppression of informed consent:
“Lastly, it has come to our attention that multiple copies of your letters were received by the center. One of which was not by the use of the US Postal Service or any other third party delivery system. It was apparent that the letter had been hand-delivered to our satellite office in Delmar, NY. As a result, this letter is also being written to inform you that under no circumstances will any further personal contact with the center, its satellites or its personnel be allowable.” – David Olsen Executive Director of Samaritan Counseling Center of the Capital Region, and Jenness Clairmont, former Clinical Director of Samaritan Counseling Center of the Capital Region, and board member of the NYS Department of Education Office of Professions (licensing board)
This is more proof that Samaritan Counseling or Recovery Resource Center of Albany were trying to paint me as insane as I tried to speak out about 12-step coercion and their merry-go-round mind-fuck. Claiming that AA did not save your life is considered a personality disorder.
“Axis II – A classification dimension used with Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), which includes personality disorders—paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal, antisocial, borderline, histrionic, narcissistic, dependent, obsessive-compulsive, personality and NOS (not otherwise specified)—and intellectual disorders, including mental retardation.”
Here is the letter that was so offensive (mainly because it didn’t have a stamp on it? The office was closer than the post office) and Axis II to them. I was being kind to Jim Garrett (a 12-step facilitator) at the time, because I thought he would actually allow me to escape his nonsense and he would adhere to his agreement and let me speak to my therapist about the experience. In fact, in my last session with him, he told me to not send my complaint and to ‘trust my higher power':
Jim Garrett’s records say such things as:
“recounted AA relationship and how abusive it felt to him because he would not have sex with her” – 3/11/14
“Case discussion with Oona Edmands: agreed that Tom will need to have two months of sobriety and weekly sessions with me before he could see Oona.” – 3/17/14
“Tom Gleason called – ‘I was only doing this so I could get back to see Oona'” – 3/20/14
“See me once a month for ‘trust building’ sessions and get approval to have appointment with Oona Edmands after two months” – 3/26/14
“Sober. Debriefing the ‘betrayal’ from Oona Edmands and his emotional response to not being able to meet with her. wrote complaint to David Olsen; has meeting on Monday with Dr. Olsen and clinical supervisor [NOTE: David Olsen did not attend]; looking at how his drinking damaged the relationship with Oona and how he may never get the opportunity to resolve/bring closure to that relationship; angry that he feels like Oona Edmands is pushing ‘religion’ on him by ‘making’ [NOTE: scare quotes] him go to AA meeetings instead of allowing other alternatives” – 5/30/14
This was shortly before I checked myself into a psychiatric ward for the second time.