A Proper Response to Complaint About 12- Step Coercion

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.

Good luck,

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: