It is not four sessions in, and I'm still digesting whether or not Peter's idea that I join the team to have a homosexual relationship (my first) with him in an open marriage with him and another of my therapists. I don't know how to assess my safety in this context because I don't have the experience needed. I'm out of my depth. So I'm grasping for my next safety-coping strategy that helped when I was being abused: Control. Control gave me a sense of certainty that led to an ability to calm down at times and feel safe. So I try being bossy with Peter. He does whatever I say. I direct the session this way. He says "fine." Then I direct it another way. Equally fine. But I feel no safer. I am finding that my body is getting tighter. But my mind has no way to formulate whatever it is I'm so afraid of.
I tell Peter: "I feel like I'm becoming more and more controlling."
"I've noticed that."
"It does not seem to be helping or leading anywhere."
"Do what you have to do. I'm here for you."
"I only feel this way in our sessions."
"I'm here for you."
I found this singularly unsatisfying. I knew enough to know that what was bubbling up was around my session, that I was not learning anything useful in all this time discussing Peter's lust and marriage and that I certainly did not know how to relax more in a HAI workshop or how to have a more successful relationship.
It is in this context that Peter said: "I think you would benefit from taking Ecstasy together."
Context: I had never been drunk in my life. I had not broken the law. I had never taken a drug. I had had several responsible adults in my teens lean on me emotionally during bad trips. I was terrified of being out of control, which had kept me safe from some of my childhood trauma, and instinctively terrified of facing some of the deep unresolved grief that comes from being both physically beaten and pshychologically humiliated by ones care-giver. And drugs were the last thing on my mind. Here was yet another curve ball I was not expecting to find in the office of someone who "could help you with your relationships." I had absolutely no way to find out what the boundaries were around this, or to control things, since it was out of my depth, experience and something I was afraid to explore. None the less, I did at least map out the terms of Peter's proposal so I could understand that part at least.
"It's a drug. It helps open people's hearts and I have a feeling it could help you."
"Tell me more. How does it work. What would that look like."
"It takes about six hours for a session."
"Where would we do it?"
"At my house."
"Would you take it?"
"I think it would be best if we took it together. That way I would be having the same experience as you and could relate to your process."
"How much would it cost?"
"My normal hourly rates. Since it takes about six hours it would be $600."
"I need to think about it."
"OK. You can e-mail me your decision. I also need to talk to Sarah. If you e-mail me about it I want you to refer to "ecstasy" as "E" because it is illegal.
Questions: Is it ever appropriate for a professional in lust with his client to take ecstasy with the client? Is it ever appropriate to recommend to a client that they take an illegal drug without first doing more due-diligence that can be done in three sessions in which the only thing discussed is Peter opening his marriage? What are the safe protocols recommended for the safe use of a mind-altering substance? How does it change the emotional relationship of a professional to his client after the professional has used their influence to recommend a path that took the professional out of integrity of their marital contract, out of integrity with their professional contract and out of integrity with the law for reasons stemming from lust?
Concerns: I believe that once a professional exposes themselves, through breaches of integrity to their wife, employer, peers and the law of the land, to consequences that threaten their physical and emotional needs (Survival, Security and Belonging are the foundation in Maslow's hierarchy of human needs, all of which are threatened if Peter loses his job and/or goes to jail) that some part of them will transfer the fear of their own lack of boundaries onto the therapeutic client, pretending that they are the enemy, and not the practices that led the relationship to a point where a client telling the truth about a paid session would have even the slightest chance of being harmful to the professional. Since the facilitators have all demonstrated in spades that they would rather let a client die than accept these consequences, it becomes all the more critical not to expose the facilitator body to a conflict-of-interest scenario in which they must face, through the breach of ethics by a facilitator, a choice between what is good for the short-term image of the facilitators and what is good for a participant.