Thursday, July 7, 2011

When Professionals Violate Trust

After a difficult meeting with the crisis counselor last week, and a troubling July 4th weekend, we came home to learn that the crisis counselor had done something that really violated our family's trust.  The result of her mistake created some unbelievable drama and a traumatic event for Danielle that, once it was over, resulted in her having a two-hour-long panic attack.

The attack was so severe that we considered transporting Danielle to the emergency room.  She was vomiting and hyperventilating, and complained of a headache and heart palpitations.  It was bad.  Since her pediatrician bawled us out the last time we took her to the ER without a telephone consultation first, we called her office.  The doctor spoke to us and then to Danielle.  After about 20 minutes, she was able to partially talk Danielle down out of her emotional tree.

The logical choice would have been to call the crisis counselor, but of course it was her actions that had created the problem in the first place.

So what do you do when a professional violates your trust in such a profound way?

Once Danielle had calmed down enough to go to bed, we called the counselor, expecting to get her voice mail system.  Surprisingly, she answered, and my wife and I calmly let her know just how badly she had damaged our professional relationship and undermined Danielle's trust in her.

"What you did was not cool," I told her.

Her response?

"I was only trying to help."

Her "help" ended up creating two days of stress, drama, and unproductive, distracted work for us.  More importantly, she created two days of worry and stress for our kid.  Although the problem that was created has been resolved, the destruction of Danielle's trust is complete.  She no longer wishes to work with this particular counselor, nor does she wish to work with anyone else.

And I don't blame Danielle one little bit.

Although I really don't believe that the crisis counselor meant any malice in her actions, she failed to consider the effect they would have on everyone, especially Danielle.  Part of the problem, I think, is her lack of experience.  She is not a licensed therapist; rather, she's an inexperienced fresh-out-of-school intern, who failed to consider the fact that we are dealing with a child of trauma, and her actions stepped right onto one of Danielle's biggest triggers.

The only thing that frustrates me more is the fact that the crisis counselor had been warned in advance about this particular trigger, and she didn't bother to take it into account.

"I was only trying to help."

That may have been very well her intention, but it was a huge violation of everyone's trust.  We are trying to get help for a troubled child who needs it, and now the so-called helping professionals have once again made Danielle's situation much, much, much worse.

They created an enormous mess, and now we are the ones left trying to clean it up.


  1. And once again it may leave you guys in a position where you have to pull her away from this person who is suppose to help... and finding another counselor will be a pain in everyone's arse. So sorry to hear this happened... even if she wasn't really doing much to help...

  2. No very sorry that you have to deal with this!

  3. Are you able to report her to the authorities or supervisors for doing this?

  4. Can you share what she did? I'm about to be a mental health intern and I'm going to do my damnedest NOT to hurt people, but I'm afraid screwing up may be inevitable. I just want to learn about potential pitfalls to avoid. If you can and not risk identifying details, I would appreciate the education.


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