Avoiding Abusive Counselors and Support Groups
People who are looking for a counselor or a support group often are emotionally vulnerable and are at risk of ending up in an unhealthy situation which, just like a marriage to an abusive spouse, will drain away their self-esteem and leave them feeling inadequate and dependent. Here's my list of danger signs indicating when a counselor or support group is becoming abusive (and yes, I've seen every one of these mentioned somewhere; I didn't just make them up. Please feel free to post your own suggestions in the comments, along with links to similar articles if you know of any.)
(1) Instead of being treated as an individual, you are given a lecture about what is wrong with "people like you."
(2) You are advised to make extensive changes to your behavior and lifestyle so as to become indistinguishable from your peers.
(3) When you talk about your concerns, you're dismissed as paranoid, unreasonable, or too sensitive.
(4) If you happen to be unemployed, you are told that you're just a lazy slacker and would have found a job by now if you'd tried harder.
(5) You mention something positive that you've accomplished relating to a special interest, and you get ridiculed or told that you are displaying poor social skills by bringing up a topic that nobody cares about.
(6) If you haven't found a compatible romantic partner, you are told that it's because nobody wants to date people like you and that the only way you'll find a girlfriend or boyfriend is to pretend to be completely different.
(7) You say that you feel dissatisfied with a job that does not challenge you intellectually or provide opportunities for career advancement, and you are told that you should shut up and be grateful anyone was willing to hire you at all.
(8) If you express a positive attitude regarding any aspect of your neurology, you are told that this is a psychological defense mechanism and that it's clear you are in denial about the true extent of your misery.
(9) When you disagree with the counselor or group, you are told that you are being childish and that your contrary behavior is a symptom of your disorder.
(10) If you mention that you have thought about leaving the counselor or group, the immediate response is an outraged tirade to the effect that if you are irresponsible enough to do so, you'll inevitably waste the rest of your life as a worthless burden on your parents and/or society.