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.
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:
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.