When life as you know it crumbles

Hi loves,

I’m sorry for disappearing for so long. After the experience with the hospital I was pretty distraught and still working toward some healthy resolution of that emotional turmoil. But before I could fully see that in my rearview mirror, I was slapped with this letter from the head of my department (mind you, I only lack Practicum and 2 semesters of internship to be finished).

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It says, “Dear Kathleen, it has come to my attention that you have been experiencing some difficulties in pur CMHC program. In accordance with Departmental Policies, we have comprised a committee of Department of Psychology and Counseling faculty members to discuss your experience and progression in the program. Several concerns have been brought before us by Dr. Holm, which we would like to discuss with you. Last spring [sic; last summer] you spoke with Dr. Holm about several personal issues such as self-harm, safety concerns, and professional boundaries and behavior. Dr. Holm spoke with you regarding these issues, and helped you seek counseling services at the UCC, as well as suggesting that you take time off from the program to pursue working on self-care. Faculty members have shared some concerns in regard to your current behaviors in the program. At the meeting you will be presented with more detailed information regarding the concerns the faculty members have observed. You will then have the opportunity to discuss these concerns with committee members. After this meeting is concluded, committee members will review the information provided and discuss what actions will be taken regarding your continued progressing through the CMHC program. You will then be provided with a written copy of the committee’s decision within several days. Prior to your meeting with the committee you will not be assigned any clients in COUNS 5393 Practicum. However, please continue to attend your scheduled classes for courses you’re enrolled.
Apparently some complaints have been made about my difficulties in the program. Mind you, this is my GPA/transcript:

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Note: 2 of the B’s were for classes in which I earned A’s. I tried to fight these and landed myself in this particular situation. But even with those; I still have a 3.76 GPA. I would hardly call that “experiencing difficulties”, would any of you?

I personally would call that rising about any emotional difficulties I might be having. Now, as if all of this isn’t stressful enough I got this paper which basically tells me my options from this meeting are forced withdrawal, suspension, or a remediation plan. But really, what more can they do to me? I practice self-care: I have a daily yoga practice, I journal daily, I meditate daily, I connect with loved ones daily. I have a mental health team: I have a psych, a talkspace therapist, a group therapist, and an individual EMDR therapist; they’re all practicing competently together in the interests of making sure I have the care I need. And I sought them out. I made those choices. Other than me keeping my shit to myself, rolling over and being completely compliant, I’m not sure what more than expect from me in terms of everything that’s in the policies they attached (you can see I’ve made note on my tentative rebuttals, any suggestions welcome):

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My plan to fight this, though they only gave me a week, is to go in with letters from current co-workers in the field; letters from past co-workers with whom I’ve remained in relationship; peers with whom I worked closely in the last two semesters; all my mental health professionals showing that I’ve been completely consistent in my care and dedication toward progress; and letters from friends and family and clergy leaders whom I have relationships with who are willing to attest to the fact that while sometimes my transparency can blur boundaries at other times it can be a powerful catalyst for connection. I’ve also printed off all the emails and positive feedback I recieved from the professors who are calling me into question now.

If none of this is good enough, then I suspect they went in with their minds set. I will hear them out. I will respect their perspective. I will handle this responsibly; however, I have worked way too hard to get to where I am and I don’t have any intentions of letting these people, who don’t even know me, whom I mistakenly trusted, to take this away from me. I have been dragged over the coals recently. I think in order to really teach me the power of advocacy and I accept that challenge but the challenge will be for nothing if I’m kicked out of the program and blacklisted from any other CMHC program.

This has the potential to have catastrophic effects on my mental health regime. If I am kicked out of this semester then I have to pay back the students loans I took out to live on. If I pay those back then I don’t have money to pay my bills, let alone to keep paying for the therapy they believe I need. If I don’t get the therapy, then I don’t continue getting better, if I never get better then I’m never admitted back into the program. If the worst case scenario happens and I get kicked out of the program then I have to choose another path in life. Maybe I focus completely on advocacy, go to law school, stack up more student loan debt, maybe I go back into education. Either way, same scenario, I have to quit working with professionals I trust and have relationships with. The best case scenarios are: a) they hear out all my evidence, they realize I do have my shit together and had a temporary lapse of good judgement and they let me continue as planned; or b) they still think I need something more to be competent in the field and make me ascribe to a remediation plan which will likely kill all of my desire to even be a part of their program.

Honestly, unless best case scenario A happens, I’m taking it as far up the totem pole as I possibly have to because this isn’t okay. I refuse to be a victim. Its time to advocate for myself.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while and you feel like my words have touched you in any way, please, please reach out and help me win this battle. All it takes is a short email to kdenison9882@gmail.com just stating how long you’ve been following me, what kind of person you know me to be, how you perceive me to be using my blog as an outlet for people who are also struggling from mental health stigmas. I would need all letters with a signature and possibly link to your blog by the 6th. I know it is short notice but I’ve got to go in there with everything I’ve got and I know this community is so strong and I’ve been blessed to be a part of it; I can only hope that I’ve given yall something else in return.

9 Thoughts

  1. Oh, no. I effing hate the system. You were mistreated by it, dehumanized and traumatized. And, for that, you potentially lose your career? Do they not understand we *need* professionals who have been there and conquered their own demons to fix the system? If they kick out every person who knows what it is like on the other side, then the only ones left are the ones who perpetuate the trauma. I would go to a therapist who is currently battling the police over her own traumatic experience because I can believe if she sees why that is so wrong, then perhaps she can understand everything horrible done to me. But, I guarantee those aholes who want to kick you out would ping my “don’t trust them, they are perpetuators of the current wrongs of our system” and never go back. I meant what I said in the last post – you have incredible potential to take what you have seen in the system done to you and be a force for change for others traumatized by it. I hope to heck you get that chance. Empathy and lived experience are as important to the therapeutic alliance as any specific insurance-approved ritualized set of techniques. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hate the system, too! I guess they don’t understand that we need professionals who’ve been on both sides of the couch. That’s definitely part of the case I am going to be making for myself.

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  2. Oh, and feel free to borrow any of those words about the importance of empathy and lived experience in the therapeutic alliance as part of your defense. I read every page of the SAMHSA guidelines for trauma-informed care, and those words are both in there. If you can find them, quote them too, and ask if anything they are promoting in that program is truly trauma-informed… *Hugs*

    Liked by 1 person

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