Monthly Archives: October 2013

Karen Torry Greene: Do not become her client

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The logo of VIP MENTAL HEALTH.

I’m breaking away from my usual blog topics to discuss something that needs to be known. My hope is that future clients find this entry and reconsider their decision. If you are considering DBT, and have found VIP MENTAL HEALTH, LLC– run by Karen Torry Greene, I urge you not to become a client of hers. I feel that she is a danger to the mentally ill, the depressed, and those who seek out a trusted person for help. Below, I m going to outline some of my experiences with her.

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First, with Karen’s program, there are two sessions each week: a private session with the client and then a group session with other ‘clients’ that meet for a ‘class’ for two hours. On her website, Karen states that she works hard to provide a “safe, nonjudgmental environment” and that while learning DBT she “developed a love for working with personality disordered persons, people in crisis and people with complex diagnoses.”

When I first met Karen, she seemed quite nice, very polite and anxious to help me. I was diagnosed as ‘having traces of BPD.’ DBT, the form of therapy Karen provides, is the program designated for BPD sufferers. However, as early as my second session, I realized that Karen herself was somewhat unstable.  The first instance was when I did not understand a concept she was teaching. She seemed to get angry that I could not understand. She was persistent, for the next few minutes, raising her voice slightly about the concept. I did begin to get angry, finally, and she then said, “Are you angry with me?” I was honest, saying I simply didn’t understand, and that we should move on. She finally let it go. But, this was my second class and was due to a misunderstanding.

Karen actually taught at ASU for one year. On Ratemyprofessors, the one review mentions that “questioning her makes it 100 times worse.” And, that is exactly what happened in this example.

EDIT: As of October 2014, a “good rating” as appeared on RateMyProfessors, but Karen only taught there in 2011 and  2012:

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Someone decided to rate her well two years after the fact?

I started the group in early December. By April, things came to a head:

On 4/11/13, several instances occurred: First, when a female client did not agree with Karen’s opinion, she proceeded to raise her voice and exclaim angrily, “I love my job! I love my job! But you don’t understand it and I am hurt by what you just said.”

Later, I did not understand a concept and inquired about how I was quick to forgive people after arguments, but that they did not reciprocate. Karen says to me, ” I’m going to disclose something… the people you have issues with are having a normal reaction. You are not giving them ample time to process the argument. That’s a characteristic of narcissism.” While I don’t remember her exact words, Karen then added that she often does not allow narcissists to ‘come through the front door’ but that she had made an exception with me.  Firstly, I feel this was inappropriate to share with the group. Secondly, I find it hard to believe someone who thinks they are ugly and a waste of space, can be a narcissist.

Again, in explaining a concept, a female client did not understand. I spoke up trying to help the other client understand. Karen raised her hand to me and said loudly, “THANK YOU! THANK YOU” as a way to cut me off and prevent me from speaking.

After these two instances, the atmosphere was tense and a female client had a seizure. Karen did go over to the client asking if she was okay. The client was unable to respond. Karen then went to the front of the room and resumed teaching. I was in total shock and horror… I began to feel anxious and stopped paying attention. The client who had sezuired eventually regained consciousness and seemed disoriented. Karen asked why I wasn’t paying attention and “what could I do to help?” My reply was, “Well, I think we’ve all been triggered. We’re all anxious right now, and I believe the class should end for today.”

The class practically stopped here, as a discussion began about the events. All clients expressed tension in the room and that it was uncomfortable. Karen then reflected the issue on me saying, “In my 13 years of doing this, I have never stopped the class.” Her comment was said in a way to make me feel guilty. But she had asked me directly what I thought should be done, so I told her.

Six days after this incident, I had my private session. I had felt suicidal for the past few days. It is required when you feel as such, you are to fill out what’s called a “Diary Card” detailing your thoughts and issues. I had done so. Karen began the appointment asking me if I had been suicidal. I told her I had been and proceeded to discuss all the issues I had written on my diary card. When I was finished, Karen mentioned quickly my issues were a result of an abandonment schema . However, seemingly discounting my suicidal thoughts, at which she is required by law to address, she said this:

“You’re a bitter and mean person. You are mean to me. You are mean to others. Others have come to me saying you scare them. You are narcissistic. You have a sense of entitlement. You are not doing the work. Therapy is not this magic thing. I’m walking on egg shells here. I can no longer put on this show for you. I don’t think I can help you.” After a moment of silence, I told her I did not agree with her diagnosis of being a narcissist and I got up to leave. Karen then said, “I’m very sorry that I can’t help you.” I said to her, “I don’t believe you.” I then walked out.

For the record, other clients in the group never showed any fearful behavior toward me. I had even been complimented on my kindness and demeanor by a female client a week before the incident in April.

I feel that Karen was used to treating extremely submissive women. I am a man, first off and I do speak up when I do not understand or believe something. I always would express my opinion in an appropriate manner. Karen seems to have an issue with ‘being challenged’, as referenced in her one teaching review. This behavior had been seen in my second group session and on April 11th, with me and another client, as noted above.

I believe Karen  put me into the narcissistic category, so that she would have reason to terminate me from her care. Even if she was right in assessment, she chose to berate me just after I had told her I was suicidal, which is abuse and against the law. When a client tells a therapist they feel suicidal or have been, the therapist is required to at the very least, mark it in their notes, some cases require reporting. Also, Karen’s monologue of insults goes against her very own promise to provide a ‘safe, nonjudgmental environment.’

I do know at the very least, Karen has had two complaints filed against her already.

Also, it is a requirement for you to text her personally if you feel suicidal. I did so once. I did so at 3:30 AM. She did not respond until 4:30 PM that day. I did not expect her to respond instantly, but doing so 13 hours after the fact seems like negligence.

So, again, do not become a client of Karen Torry Greene, who runs VIP MENTAL HEALTH. Also, the two reviews on her google plus page are made by her roommate/companion. I would say that’s a conflict of interest.

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Ravenswood: The Pilot Review

Pretty Little Liars has been called, “the show impossible to follow” a few times. It is on the same train as LOST, in which a show gets so many mysteries intertwined, the audience abandons it in favor of something simpler or your audience sticks by you and hates your series finale…

PLL has angered fans at least once. For two years, we waited to learn just who A was. Several cast members said in interviews that the show was different than the books, and that A’s identity was not the same. Well, when that fateful day came, A was revealed to be Mona—- the same character as in the books. You can read about that entire mess  here.

However, I’ve stuck with the show. It’s part “I’m in it, so let’s finish it” and part “Oh, that was actually a good twist!”

For me, Pretty Little Liars finally did something right when the ultimate A  was revealed to be Ezra Fitz, the school teacher turned lover of Aria Montgomery. Had I been writing the show, that’s what I would have done too. Of course, some fans (me included) are worrying Ezra as A is somehow another red herring, or a gimmick, as I’d call it at this point.

And now, PLL has a spin off show. Ravenswood.

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Character Caleb, boyfriend to Hannah, meets some girl on a bus and bond over being children in the foster system. The girl is Miranda, and she’s just found out she has an Uncle, and she’s going to see him. After they get off the bus for what seemed like YEARS, the two find gravestones with their names and pictures of them, but, from about 1900. The former was all part of the latest PLL episode. Many fans complained the Miranda/Caleb plot slowed down the episode. Of course, if you know a thing or two about television, my guess is the PLL episode was the ‘backdoor pilot’ for Ravenswood.

Anyway, the actual Ravenswood episode begins and boy, is it ever a hot mess. As I watched , I really felt that I was watching a pilot that had been produced by a first draft of a script. I’m sure that’s not what it was, but it darn near seemed like it.

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For one, it’s quickly apparent that there are many, many characters here. That normally wouldn’t be a problem. However, here you’ll have a 1 to 2 minute scene about “the mystery” involving one new character and then, you go off and meet someone else. But, none of these scenes let you know who these people are. All they talk about is “the mystery” and two characters are siblings and their father is dead. I’m sitting there wondering when I’m going to hear a character name more than once….I need to know who the heck I’m watching. I believe there were 14 characters in this episode. That’s overload. Furthermore, apart from a few characters I’ll talk about later, many of them were almost completely void of personality.

For the sake of you not being confused: The plot of the show revolves around some curse that is affecting 5 teens, including Caleb. It looks as though our teens have died many years ago, as pictures of dead people look just like them…

Caleb, in a newspaper article from years ago.

Caleb, in a newspaper article from years ago.

I found it a bit comical, however, around a bit of Caleb’s story. It had been teased that there was a scene where Caleb’s portrayer, Tyler Blackburn, was ‘naked’ in a bath tub. Once the story had been established, a character tells Caleb that the house has a bath, if he wants to wash up. Caleb says he’s more of a shower kind of guy. We break from his plot and when we come back, Caleb is talking to Miranda for a bit, and then, Caleb says, “Well, I’m going to take that bath now…”

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Tyler Blackburn in a tub – a moment teased in a promo.

Obviously, Tyler Blackburn in a bath is something many people want to see and I found myself laughing at how the show seemed to be referencing that fact.  Part of me wonders if the show would have faired better if it was strictly over Tyler in a bath.

In all seriousness—-

The main problem with this pilot, however, was that most dialog was of an explanation type nature. It was almost entirely exposition. I understand a pilot has to introduce you to its world. But, there have been a trillion pilots, and hardly any get stuck in this “explaining” mode.

Of the characters, I feel that Miranda and Mrs. G were the most fleshed out and the most interesting. I think that’s partly because these characters were first introduced on PLL and not this “Explain” pilot of Ravenswood.  There was only one character introduced in the Ravenswood pilot that was somewhat interesting: Remy.  We learn she is a budding journalist, has a crush on a boy, and her parents are having martial problems.

The final moment of the episode features the 5 main characters trapped in a car underwater. Cliffhangers can be amazing, but not in a pilot like this. After the cut to black, the promo for next week reveals all 5 characters alive, not trapped in a car— so the entire cliff hanger loses it’s effect. If you end on a cliff hanger like that, your promo needs to focus on their escape— not situations away from the cliff hanger!

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Our characters may die!

I truly believe this was the “baby” of Marlene; the project she truly wanted to bring to life. And, it appears no one had the heart to tell her that this idea just doesn’t translate well on the screen. If you look at the credits, you can see that the writers and producers of PLL are also working on this. I think this is a case where they were all in love with it and an extra set of eyes never looked at it and told them what this really was… a sub plot for PLL. It probably could have worked. But as a show, it’s a hot mess.

Time will tell if it gets better. I may watch episode two. But, if Twitter is any indication,

#Ravenswoodsucks

“Well, I’m going to take that bath now,” – Caleb Rivers

EDIT: After ten episodes aired, RAVENSWOOD was canceled, on 2/14/14.

http://www.rickey.org/abc-family-cancels-ravenswood/#comments

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Retroactive Continuity on Degrassi

Degrassi prides itself on being a ‘realistic drama.’ Characters are played by actual teens, issues are mostly prevalent and while now a tad lax, Degrassi isn’t entirely “soapy.”

I love Degrassi for many reasons, but its strive for realism takes the cake. As a writer, it means a lot to me when media doesn’t take too many liberties to tell a story. It’s all in part why I would love to write for the show one day.

However, in recent seasons, Degrassi has begun a downwards spiral in terms of its writing.

The most glaring example, and the one that has me the most upset, is the treatment of character Zig Novak.

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Zig is a fairly new character who was introduced in Season 11. From a writing perspective, Zig was the “hot boy” with a twist. Instead of simply being the boy the new girls lusted over, Zig had a personality. He was heart felt and a bit goofy.

For the first bulk of his appearances, Zig proved to be your average teenage boy: conflicted with liking two girls, trying to make it in a band, and so on. Further development revealed Zig to steal, only because his family was extremely poor and he struggled with how to tell his friends.

Zig became interested in Maya Matlin amidst all this. Skipping over some plot, the two ended up kissing when their feelings got the best of them. However, Zig was with Tori and Maya was “on a break” with Cam.

Before Zig’s reintroduction in Season 13, his last storyline revolved around Cam’s death.

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Zig was the last to speak to Cam. When Cam gloated Maya and he were back together, Zig told Cam he was a psycho and Maya would be better off without him. This comment from Zig was the breaking point for Cam, who then committed suicide.

While Cam and Zig were “enemies” by the end, Zig did show remorse for what he had said and felt guilty. This and a few other episode appearances clearly showed Zig as a sympathetic young man.

When season 13 began, Zig was nowhere to be found. If memory serves me right, he wasn’t even mentioned by fellow characters. The beginning of the season saw many characters in Paris. Fans assumed Zig was not there because of his family being poor. It seemed like a plausible reason and fans were anxious to see his return.

Well. He did return. In episode “You Got Me”, the tenth episode of the season. And, something wasn’t right. Zig was now in a tight fitted leather jacket, sporting jet black hair, and a ‘bad boy’ attitude.

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This look of danger was reinforced when his interaction with new character, Zoe, was over drugs…

Are you the kind of guy that can get ‘things’ from um…” says Zoe.

Well sure, I got lots of things,” torts Zig, giving Zoe a sexy smile.

Zig’s entire personality in this re-introduction was new. I could not believe what I was seeing. It is my opinion that this is an example of retroactive continuity. ‘Retcon’ for short, is a term given to works of fiction when a character is drastically changed for the sake of storytelling- previously established traits or ideals are thrown out the window.

Zig’s tough-guy attitude was purely out of left field. His rewrite is obviously to create tension between Maya and new character, Miles. Some fans stated they thought “the new Zig” was such because he hadn’t been seen in a long while. But, others wondered where the “cute” Zig had gone and if his new attitude would be explained.

Degrassi is famous for ‘retconning’ the timeline of its universe. Sometimes, the show would portray a season as a semester or sometimes an actual year. The timeline was behind reality and then the seniors of the real year 2012 became seniors of 2013. I know, complicated.

But, characters on the show had never been blatantly changed for storyline purposes, keeping true to Degrassi’s “realism.” While Zig is the most obvious example, one other character has suffered from the writer’s pen, and that was Owen Milligan.

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Owen was a character introduced in season 10. Tall and built, he was your typical high school bully. His first major storyline involved homophobic beliefs toward a member on the football team. Owen’s homophobia story mixed with character Riley, who was in the closet, and also on the team. Owen was also trans-phobic, bullying character Adam, who was transgender.

But then, in the later half of season 11, it was revealed that character Tristan was actually Owen’s brother.

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The two have a heart to heart in the gym, involving Tristan being teased as a child. The kicker? Tristan is gay, and is out and proud. Owen’s entire framework of being a bully and hating homosexuals was no more. Besides his new found support for gays, Owen gaining a sibling is also an example of retcon.

Now, I understand this is television. But, it’s the fact that Degrassi has built itself as being a realistic drama. Owen’s support of homosexuals or Zig’s bad boy attitude aren’t problems. The issue is the characters did not evolve into exhibiting these characteristics.

As a viewer, it’s frustrating, especially when you grow attached to a character and then within an instant, the character you knew is no more. I am talking of Zig’s change, of course.

You could argue that character Imogen has seen some elements of retcon, bouncing back in forth from being “quirky and manipulative” to just “quirky” then back again.

At the end of the day, Degrassi is just a television show. But, when a show that has shown tremendous writing begins to take shortcuts, your heart dies a little inside.

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