What am I doing wrong? Any success stories with humanistic, person centred psychotherapy?


@Lostvoice . I’m in the Uk too. Does she work by the code of BACP? Because she has broken them, from day one with you. She should never have offered to be your therapist. She knew that was wrong.
I’m not surprised you feel like this. It is grief. It is horrible what she has put you through.
i am angry on your behalf that she has put you in this position. I hope you know you are not too much and that if you do feel able to start therapy with someone new, that you get the care a good therapist can provide and how it helps heal.

sitting with you.


@Lostvoice . I’m in the Uk too. Does she work by the code of BACP? Because she has broken them, from day one with you. She should never have offered to be your therapist. She knew that was wrong.
I’m not surprised you feel like this. It is grief. It is horrible what she has put you through.
i am angry on your behalf that she has put you in this position. I hope you know you are not too much and that if you do feel able to start therapy with someone new, that you get the care a good therapist can provide and how it helps heal.

sitting with you.
Yes she does work by BACP!

Thank you so much, I am feeling less alone with these replies and I hope it’s the start of me not blaming myself


Maybe find someone else to see and start seeing them, form a bit of a bond and then tell your current T that you value your relationship but felt you needed someone else. Maybe instead of it splitting your relationship it will strengthen it as you could carry on the friendship without being a burden to each other.


My distress and unstable behaviour was too much for her and we almost stopped the work together.
I haven't read back through the post, so my apologies if this was already mentioned: is she a licensed therapist? Does she have training in trauma? I fully trust my own therapist to manage whatever comes up in therapy, because that's what he's trained to do. We are not friends, but if we were, he might also have some issues with what I tell him. Friends have a different sort of relationship than do client and therapist. And it is COMPLETELY on her if she is treating a friend. That's not ethical and it can only cause damage to you.
I feel she treats me differently to her other clients and says things to me she wouldn’t dream of saying to them.
Oh, she likely does. Friends do talk to friends differently than therapists do to clients.
She helps me with going in to shops and we do non therapy things together like walking our dogs, meeting for a cuppa etc… I also walk her dog 3 or 4 times a week in the mornings
This would just not be ok with an ethical therapist.
she doesn’t cancel sessions or take time off when things are difficult, she carries on and I’m sat there with her knowing she’s unable to be present and really with me.
This, I think, is a good indication that you need to be the one to cut things off with her.
I feel like it’s my fault
IT'S NOT! We are in a vulnerable place, and it is the THERAPIST'S responsibility to maintain safety and to work ethically with clients.

That said, and not everyone will agree with me here so know this is just my own opinion, I do believe that once a client understands that they are in a situation like this, it absolutely is their responsibility to remove themselves from it.
I’m having the most painful waves of emotion that feels like grief. I don’t know what to do and I feel like giving up on any treatment.
I hope you will be able to see that the grief is normal. But it is not, I don't think, related to the therapy alone. You are dealing here with a supposed friend who violated her ethics and took you on as a client, but because you were friends first, that is likely the stronger relationship. Neither of you can separate friendship from professional relationships--I think I'd be missing my friend if I were in the same situation. But she can't be both friend and therapist.

Again, just my own thoughts, but what you need now is a therapist who can help you work through this. Your feelings are not the therapy's fault; they are a result of the relationship. There are some amazing, ethical therapists out there who will be able to manage whatever you tell them in a professional way and find the right techniques for you to help you with your original trauma.

Should I say again? NOT your fault! :-)


She is a licensed therapist, but not trauma specialist. I guess we were more acquaintances than friends going in to it. But she did mention the risks of a dual relationship and has referred to me as a friend. I don’t know I’m so confused and I’m now being told by a psychiatrist at the community mental health team that the symptoms i spoke of today are more linked to an anxiety disorder and personality disorder, rather than ptsd but he didn’t like the term CPTSD. I’m so exhausted, I just want things to make sense again.


All of this may be beside the point… as it’s already been discussed it’s not the school of thought, but the person themselves, who is the problem. But is still good info to have, in your back pocket
There’s (SUPPOSED to be) a balance in Humanism, very similar to Montessori Schooling…

“To give a child liberty is not to abandon them to themselves.” -Maria Montessori

…that, quite frankly, a lot of lower tier clinicians never achieve, much less master. As, just because it’s client led (or Montessori students choose which stations/subjects to be working on, and for how long), doesn’t mean the therapist just sits there empathizing & asking open ended question like in psychoanalytic therapy. Instead they’re supposed to create a very dynamic/interactive space where they present different modalities/tools available to learn, and then work to create an evolving treatment plan based on what the client wants to be working on.

You would essentially have a network model of the symptoms you’re struggling with (panic attacks, nightmares, emotional dysregulation, anxiety, depression, relationships, stabilizing, trauma processing, etc.)… and you choose which area you’d like to be working on… and then they teach you different skills/use different modalities… to work on those areas.

So there’s still (supposed to be) a whoooooooole lot of structure … that you and your therapist Tetris around as needed/wanted.

It’s (in humanistic/client-centered) an evolving and highly individual structure based on your needs/wants rather than “12 weeks of CBT with this one week 1 and that on week 2”; or “6mo-18mo of DBT with this for the first 4 weeks, this for the first 90 days, this for the entire time period, this to be 24/7 available for he first half, then to taper down to none for the second half, etc.”

ALTHOUGH, Humanistic Therapists (who specialise in trauma) do still use TF-CBT, CPT, DBT, EMDR, etc.; the same way that humanistic therapists who specialize in autism use early intervention & other modalities, and those whose specialize in eating disorders, or phobias, or, or, or… use/teach the skills/methods/modalities specific to the disorders they work with.


It is incrediably common for people with PTSD (& other bid deal disorders) to first start a generalized therapy, with a therapist who hasn’t (or has yet to) specialize. Most of us, though, move onto someone educated, trained, & equipped to help us with what is NOT a normal-life-problem, but a very serious & life threatening disorder. The exact same way people usually go to their GP, first… and then very quickly move onto specialists, who have the education/training/experience.

I LOVE my GP. But he’s also not going to perform my shoulder surgery. He’s going to send me to a surgeon -not just any surgeon- but a sports med orthopedic surgeon, meanwhile that surgeon won’t also be doing my anesthesia or imaging or physical therapy. My sore shoulder? Normal life problem? My GP can handle.

Once we move past normal life, it would be irresponsible of him to NOT refer me out… and insane for him to be offended by my seeking more specialized care.

Same in Psych.

Because this, right here (below), is exactly the neon flashing WARNING! the responses you’re getting highlight.
I am afraid that if I tell her I don’t want to work with her professionally that I’ll lose her as a friend too.
I’ve had a few therapists over the years who’ve held multiple roles in my life.

Colleagues I lived/worked with, small-town-friends (pop less than 200, means it’s unavoidable that people are in many different roles in each other’s lives), and a situation in reverse where my 12-step sponsor (& eventual very good friend) also happened to be an LCSW.

And I’ve had friends/lovers/family who WERE (are) therapists but would-never, could-never be MY therapist… because there was no way to have appropriate and protective boundaries in place.

And that’s the key, right there.

It can be possible to maintain personal/professional boundaries when you’re with 15 people in sleeping bags for months (swearing over morning coffee, working together all day long, telling ghost stories at night)… and yet impossible to maintain them with people in far less intimate circumstance. Totally possible in tiny communities where everyone wears 3 hats, yet impossible in cities of millions. <<< Both of these examples -and many many more- the RISK for unethical abuses of power is astronomical. People have to take active and ongoing steps to avoid crossing those lines if they are a small town shrink, or expedition’s expert in psych, responsible for the well being of the team.

IME it comes down to 80% the professional themselves having rock solid boundaries & ethics & setting the tone / rules of engagement; and 20% external structures / checks&balances. Why the disparity? Because someone who is determined can get around the most strenuous system of checks & balances, whilst the inept/lazy someone simply doesn’t care. Whether they’re malicious and deliberately taking advantage, or not.

Your (former??? hopefully???) T not only took none of the precautions that responsible people in challenging settings take, but has acted unethically from start to finish.

I feel like it’s my fault and like I make good things bad.
As a professional SHE’S the one who was responsible to say… “You know, I think you would get a lot out of therapy / trauma therapy. Let me give you a couple names of great people, and I’ll ring them, let them know to expect your call/email.” … and then continue on as your friend/ confidante/ employer.

Instead of what she did.

She’s responsible because
- She’s ethically bound to act differently than she did
- She’s had the education and training to know why what she was doing, and how, was wrong.
- She was the one in the position of power in this already unequal relationship (employer employee), and she widened that gap even further by positioning herself as your therapist.

Whether or not you agreed/consented -or even fought for this arrangement- is TOTALLY beside the point, and has zip zero nada zilch to do with fault.

The exact same way that agreeing to a surgery, even arguing for a specific surgeon, in no way makes you responsible for the surgeons actions. As THEY are the professional. If they cut off the wrong arm? Or showed up drunk and killed you? Or gave you a tattoo? Or have no experience with the surgery you need and botched it? Or, or, or, or? It’s not like they can say that it’s not their fault because YOU came to THEM. Instead? As a patient/client we’re putting our trust in professionals to be able to do their job. Including to turn us down if they cannot do that job.