David Forest, Review

David Forest, Review

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by FRCpatient, Mar. 26, 2017

As one of my group therapists at Florida Recovery Center, David displayed many gifts; in particular, his lectures on finding inner peace were lovely.  Nonetheless, his treatment of me when I presented my first step - a highly confessional assignment in which I was offloading some very heavy stories including a quasi-rape story which I had literally never told a soul and sadly rambling and babbling and having a very hard time choking out what I was trying to say - was utterly incompetent and left me with enduring emotional scars.

It began with David bizarrely opting for a harsh confrontation tactic instead of a gentle supportive suggestion as his approach to encouraging me to be more concise.  Because he sounded so angry at me, this led me to feel deeply ashamed and believe that my disclosures had been horribly inappropriate.  I consequently collapsed, rushed through the rest of the assignment, giving half-hearted answers to everything.  Then, David failed to even acknowledge he had clearly devastated me, rendering me incapable of completing the assignment.  Then, when the other therapist in the room frowned at David and made it clear that he had hurt me and suggested that I really needed to do the assignment again, David merely nodded and said, "With her sponsor," without acknowledging responsibility, implying that I was to blame, not him. Then, when another patient challenged David more directly on how he had treated me, David viciously lashed out at the patient.  And when I say, "viciously," I mean David first responded to the patient, half-jokingly, "Why do you feel like you need to rescue her?"  (In fact, the patient's instincts were dead on; in that moment, I desperately needed someone to rescue me.)  Then, after a pause, David lashed out at the patient with viper-like suddenness, in a loud and enraged voice, "Oh, you say, 'I'm not going to *talk* today!' [Because the patient had earlier said he wouldn't speak that day since it was his first day in the program.]  I know her a lot better than you do!  You need to listen."  Of course, David's incredibly aggressive response immediately shut the patient down.  Meanwhile, because the patient was sitting right next to me, and because he was standing up for me, I felt like David was lashing out at *me* and I thus became even more convinced that I had done something totally inappropriate, or why else would David be so angry?  I began to cry, and David cited that triumphantly as evidence that he had helped me get in touch with my feelings.  All this while I was one of three women in a room filled with about twenty men, so I was scared as hell and in even more need of emotional support in that vulnerable, frightening moment.  Far from helping me, David traumatized me; therapy doesn't get much more botched than that.  

Only with the clarity of three years hindsight can I now surmise that the real reason David lashed out at the patient was because David was feeling vulnerable, having just been criticized by his co-worker in front of a room full of his patients for having made such a glaring error.  In the moment, and for a very long time afterwards, I blamed myself, believing I had caused David's anger, by monopolizing and by making such deeply inappropriate disclosures.  I have been in multiple rounds of therapy over this issue.  While I am sure David never intended to hurt me, therapists ought to know how to maintain a certain level of emotional control (or perhaps they should consider seeing a therapist themselves...), and unfortunately, some mistakes can cause real damage.  I cannot recommend David as a therapist.

* this reviewer has be with this therapist for <6 months
* this reviewer had 6 - 10 therapists before.
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2 comments. Add a comment

by FRCpatient2 2017-03-28 13:53:21
To continue on from my post above...

I'm sorry, but you have to be completely emotionally tonedeaf to think that it is a good idea to first use a harsh confrontation tactic on a girl who has just made a quasi-rape disclosure, and then even more so to just sit and watch without interjecting as that girl completely crumbles in front of your eyes, and then to finally viciously lash out at someone who later attempts to come to that girl's defense and ask that person, "Why do you feel like you need to rescue her?" (Umm maybe because you just kicked the girl down at her most vulnerable moment and she has clearly shown she was too wounded to pull herself back up...)  

I thought it was hilarious/pitiful that David apparently told the director of the program who wasn't in session that day that the reason he yelled at the patient was that I supposedly don't need anyone to come to my defense.  Wow, I hope David never finds himself publicly demeaned by an authority figure after disclosing in front of a large group a very dark, painful story he has literally never told a soul  - we'll see if he feels strong enough in that moment to come to his own defense... I suspect he will desperately need someone to stand up for him just like I did.  

Like I said, I now surmise that the real reason David lashed out was simply that he was embarrassed because his co-worker had just dressed him down, but it's sad that he put his own embarrassment in front of my feelings in that moment, lashing out angrily when what he needed to do was own his mistake, apologize, and offer me an opportunity to re-do the assignment with the group.  To this end, I would recommend David read the essay, "To Err is Human: Turning Our Mistakes Into Useful Interventions" in 101 Interventions in Group Therapy.
by FRCpatient3 2017-09-12 02:54:35
May I revise my former assessment?  I have begun to see David's actions in a far more sympathetic light.  For a very long time, I assumed that the reason David treated me so harshly was because he was angry at me for monopolizing the group's time; for this, I couldn't forgive him.  Only now, with the clarity of almost four years hindsight, can I see that he more likely cut me off because he was trying to direct my attention to what actually mattered.

The question was, "How have chemicals placed your life in danger?" and I chose to tell a long story about how I ruined a date.  I explained how I went on a date with a guy I was really excited about which I ended up ruining by getting too drunk.  Consequently, the guy cancelled our second date supposedly because he "didn't want to go out that night," yet I ended up running into him at a bar downtown (my voice literally cracked as I told this part).  Then, after I successfully played it cool upon leaving the bar, I ran out into the street and was almost hit by an SUV.  At this point, David harshly interrupted me in a very angry voice and said, "Okay, you can just say, 'I ran into the street and was almost hit by an SUV.'"

I assumed David was angry at me for wasting the group's time by selfishly going on a tangent, but now I realize that he was probably pushing me to focus on what actually mattered in the story I had just told.  And the truth is, he was absolutely right.  The guy was a total loser who I had absolutely no business dating in the first place, and if we had continued seeing one another, I would have lived to really really regret it.  I should have been grateful that I got to see that night the truth of who that guy is (a liar), but instead, I got obsessed with him for several months after that, because I have severe OCD and it tends to blind me to what actually matters (same reason I've been obsessing for so long over how David treated me during my first step).

David was prodding me to break through my OCD thought patterns and focus on what actually matters - that alcohol led me to run out into the street and nearly kill myself.  In fact, David was placing a higher value on me than I was placing on myself.

I guess this is what "denial" is all about, and I suppose this is why "confrontation tactics" are implemented in substance abuse therapy.

I regret my posts above, and I have asked the site managers to remove them, but they have not yet.

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