A Pedophile Walks Into A Therapist's Office
Updated: Oct 23, 2019
So, a client that you are treating admits to having a attraction to children. What should your first response be?
I am sure most, if not all, of you have been given little to no training when it comes to this subject--even if you specialize in sexuality.
Until schools decide to change this practice, let someone who is "minor attracted" and has sought counseling be your guide.
For the first experience I ever had with therapy in regards to dealing with my attraction, the counselor I was seeing already knew why I was there and, of course, this was a big help.
I had just "come out" to my parents and brother, and I was feeling pretty low and ashamed. I thought that my world was going to end and everyone that I loved was going to abandoned me. To my surprise, they didn't. They still loved me and only wanted to help me in any way they could.
This was true especially about my brother. You see, my brother was the first to notice that something was wrong with me, and he took it upon himself to help me feel comfortable in admitting my attraction. After everyone knew, he set up a week-long intensive with the counselor he had been seeing for a while.
The first time I walked into meet with her, I had a million different emotions running through me at once. I knew she knew the reason I was there, but all of the things that I heard was that there was a possibility that she would have to to report me to CPS if she thought of me as a threat. I never harmed a child nor did I ever want to, but I was unsure if she thought my thoughts were enough to be a danger to a child.
Even though she didn't view me as a threat, she still treated me as a offender. Her training was only in dealing with those who have offended. She tried to reinforce feeling sympathy for the victim and establishing appropriate boundaries.
These things were useless for me, given the fact that I understood that I never wanted to harm a child and never had any "urges" that I couldn't control.
A lot of time and money was wasted on this, which (as I soon found out) was all she really cared about.
Although this therapist helped me with the initial period after I told my family, and she helped me build my confidence enough to move across the country and start a new chapter, she ultimately only cared about keeping me stuck so that she could continue to collect money. When the day came when I had to cancel a session because of the lack of funds, I never heard from her again. This seriously played to my abandonment issues.
After she abandoned me, I lost my trust in the therapeutic process for almost two years. I was increasingly becoming more and more depressed, and I also lacked any motivation to better my life.
Through some encouragement from my mother, I finally decided to try and seek help again. By that time, I had been working a steady job in the new city I was living in and figured that, if the therapist was willing to work with me on a sliding scale, I would be able to pay for the sessions myself this time.
But where to look?
Unlike last time, I knew the therapist I would probably find might not know anything about dealing with my attraction, and I knew that going to someone who focused on sex offenders was going to be counterproductive. So I decided to do a search for a therapist that dealt with "Sex Abuse Recovery",and that is where I found the most caring and compassionate counselor one could ask for.
I really didn't know where to start that first session, so I just listed the feelings of depression, lack of motivation, and low self esteem that I was experiencing at that moment. We started a plan of action on how to move forward.
It was about three months into my therapy when I realized that, if I was going to be able to move forward and get the most out of what she could offer me, I needed to be completely honest with her.
So the next session I had after I made that decision, I realized it was time to let her know the real reason I needed help. I decided to wait until the end of the session just in case she had a bad reaction, so I would at least get one more full session with her.
So as the hour was coming to a close I let her know that I needed to address something that I haven't been able to tell her until now. With tears in my eyes I said:
"Not only do I feel like I was sexually abused, but I myself am attracted to children and have been for as long as I could remember.
"I have never abused anyone nor do I ever want to, but it doesn't change the fact that the attraction is there."
After I said a little more, I was completely drained emotionally. I looked into her eyes to see if anything had changed in her demeanor. For the most part, I didn't think anything had changed. I asked her if it would be possible if I could have a hug, to which she agreed.
We said our goodbyes and I left. A few days had passed, and I got a call from her. She let me know that, given what I had told her, she didn't feel like that she was the appropriate therapist for since she didn't have any training on the subject. My heart was crushed: what I had feared would happen had happened.
Then she said, "That doesn't mean that I will stop helping you but, because I don't have the training, I need you to be willing to perhaps speak with others that do have the training."
Over the next month, she and I began looking for resources to help me with my attraction, but the only people we could find were those who dealt with offenders. Once she realized that I wasn't at risk of offending, we decided to proceed with just her and me. Throughout our sessions, the main things she worked on with me were what I initially came to see her for to begin with.
She also helped me understand that my attraction didn't define me. It was only a part of me, and I got to decide on how much.
Because of her lack of knowledge in the subject, anytime she had a question in regards to how I felt or dealt with a certain circumstance in regards to the attraction, I would give her the best answer I knew how to give.
A few years later, there came a time when I had to decide to move back home, which meant that I would no longer be able to see her due to her license only being for that state. But by that time I felt like she had set me up for success.
In closing, I want to say this: there are times when I still need to seek therapy, but I know that, unless I feel like it is hundred percent necessary, I don't need to bring up my "minor attraction".
So realize this: therapy for a minor-attracted person is, for the most part, the same as any other client you deal with who feels like they are worthless, depressed, and unwanted. Those of us who have this attraction like to say "The attraction is the easy part", because knowing that we can't act on it is pretty much a given but dealing with what comes along with it is a lot harder.
Related "A MAPs Journey" podcast: A Pedophile Walks Into A Therapist's Office