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Be Careful Which Therapist You Pick

The Catholic writer and apologist Dawn Eden, who endured sexual abuse as a child, has a warning about picking the right therapist. Excerpt:

This was not the first time I have heard from another person who had a negative experience with [New York psychotherapist Philip] Mango. It was the fifth. But it was the first time that a My Peace I Give You reader reported such an experience. Since I feel a responsibility to my readers, I would like, for the record, to now say publicly that I do not recommend Mango.

After my negative experience with Mango, in 2007, I complained to the New York State Office of the Professions. Two and a half years later, they disciplined him. Although I do not know for certain whether the discipline was provoked by my complaint, the charges to which Mango admitted are consistent with what I reported.

There’s more. This is important to know because Mango is, or at least once was, the go-to therapist in New York City for a certain kind of conservative Catholic — the kind I once was. In the summer of 2002, I was debilitated by anger from the 9/11 terror attacks, and then from the Catholic sexual abuse scandal, which broke big out of Boston earlier that year. My wife, worried to death about me, begged me to go to Mango for counsel on handling my anger. So I did. We had a couple of meetings that went well. Then, before the third meeting, he read a piece I had written for the Wall Street Journal calling out Pope John Paul II for not doing enough about the abuse scandal. He exploded.

He yelled at me — literally screamed — for being “a new Luther,” saying I was helping the devil, saying I would lose my family if I didn’t stop attacking the pope. On and on like this, for an hour. I was so disoriented I didn’t know what to do. At the end of it, I paid him and went home. Later that night, I realized how crazy this was, and wrote to demand my money back, or I would report him to the state. He sent me a refund for that session, and I never heard from him again. I wish now I had let him keep the money and called the State of New York anyway.

So, no, I do not recommend Mango either. Here’s a 2009 clip of Mango talking about how much he’s reached out to help the suffering. Yeah, well. He calls himself “Doctor Mango,” but his Ph.D. is from Clayton University, an online college and alleged diploma mill, now defunct in the US but up and running again in Hong Kong; the place is unaccredited, which is why Mango can’t practice with that degree in, for example, Texas). His “St. Michael Institute for the Psychological Sciences” sounds like a fancy place, but it’s in a dumpy warren — and at the time I saw him, he was the only mental-health “professional” on the premises. Buyer beware, is what I’m telling you. Like a lot of people, I believed that having a therapist who shared my religious faith was important. I didn’t check credentials or anything, and fell into a trap — one that caught Dawn Eden, and at least one other person I personally know.

That was a hard, hard lesson for me to learn. I suspect this happens a lot to naive religious people who are in an emotionally vulnerable position, and who think that the fact that a psychotherapist professes faith makes them particularly competent and especially trustworthy. Not so.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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