Counseling/Help Please


I'm currently at a really low spot, and I don't know how to handle it. I'm 22 and in my first year of my master's in mental health counseling. I'm an excellent student and I've never had an issue with a professor before. Right now, I have a professor that has appeared to be grading my character instead of my work. In my opinion, she has been discriminating against me and my contributions to class are met with animosity and discouragement. I fear her due to the names I have been called by her: cynical, insecure, oppositional, self-entitled, etc. Due to this, I feel it has impeded my education dramatically and that I haven't gotten what I've needed out of this class. I brought this to the attention of my department chair and she asked me to write this teacher an email explaining my feelings, and to send it back to her for feedback, and then to send it to this professor (nina). My email was approved, and I sent it. Shortly after I had a meeting with the vice president of my school and this teacher where I was torn to shreds, and not even heard. The vice president was not objective and it was simply used as an opportunity to say negative things about me - including attacking me for the email I sent to Nina which my department chair approved. I believe my department chair wanted to teach me how to deal with situations like this, but now all I've learned is that I shouldn't address concerns. In this meeting, I said how I was fearful of Nina and they wanted me to defend my emotions and kept saying "Well you don't look scared."

I want to be an excellent therapist someday. And my other professors have had nothing but kind words for me and they believe I can do it. My motivations for the classes that I'm in with this professor has diminished completely. I've been crying for six hours straight because I don't know if I should take their feedback to heart or not. In the meeting Nina said I had no ability to reflect (although my department chair sees that as my best quality), that I think I'm better than everyone else, that she has no idea why I'm in this field, etc. I only have two weeks left with this professor, but I don't know what to do.

My department chair promised that she had my back and that I wouldn't get hurt, and I did get hurt and have heard nothing from her. I think I may have gotten her in trouble as well because when I said the email was approved by her they were very angry about that. I feel like an absolute terrible person, and I have a history of depression/anxiety. I don't know how to make sense out of what happened and go forward.

How does a person decide if the negative things said are valid and I to change, or if they should be dismissed? It's hard to discount a vice-president and a person with 2 PhD's (Nina)I need help making sense of this. Thank you.

Hi Chantell,

Wow - that is a horrible situation - and being called: cynical, insecure, opposition, self-entitled, etc.

Does your school have an ombudsman?  I might not have spelled it right.  They help to settle disputes - but not all school have them.

You have received verbal abuse from a professor. Can you check out your student rights in your student manual?  Find out if there is legal assistance on campus for being verbally abused buy a professor.   Students have rights - find out about them.  

If she has put you down verbally, she may have put others down too.

Make an appointment with the school President.

During my Master's program, me and two other women really felt discriminated against by a woman professor because we were the oldest in the class. She treated us very negatively, looked for any little mistake on papers or whatever, but did not do it to younger students.  We complained to the head of the department; set up an appointment with him. He told us that were were not the only ones who came in with complaints.  The professor was fired a year later.  The department head needed time to build a case.

So, you can go to department heads, the dean of the college, the President.  Look at the legal side of student rights. Even write an article in the school newspaper if your student rights are being violated.

I really sympathize with what you are going through.  Keep at it.  You will probably be helping future students not to be mistreated by acting now on this.

Don't worry about being a good therapist. This negative experience teaches you how NOT to treat others.  It will make you more sensitive and more aware of your client's feelings.  Believing it or not, you are learning a lot through this and you will end up using it for good in the future or near future.

Another thing you can do is to report it to CACREP especially if your department does not adhere to student rights.  CACREP will be their big wake-up call to get rid of that professor.



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Patricia A. Schafer, Ph.D.


I specialize in various forms of depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and also stress, phobias, life changes, grief, women's issues, men's issues, etc. My licenses are: Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor -Supervisor(LPCC-S) and Licensed Professional Chemical Dependency Counselor (LICDC) in the state of Ohio and a National Certified Counselor (NCC).


12 years experience. I counsel substance abusers, families of alcoholics/drug addictions, and codependency issues. I also specialize in social phobia; stress; anxieties; women`s issues; grief and adjustments to life changes. Some therapeutic techniques used are: CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), DBT (Dialectical Behaviorial Therapy)REBT (Rational Emotive), SFT (Solution Focused) and 12-Step, etc. If you live in the Cleveland area, you can contact me at my office for an appointment at: 440-349-4521. I am on various insurance panels and EAP programs.


Experiences of prejudice among individuals in African American and Caucasian Interracial Marriages: A Q-methodological Study (Doctoral Dissertation - December 2008; Wilsnack and Beckman's book: Alcohol Problems in Women (1984). Alcohol use and marital violence: Female and Male Differences in reactions to alcohol(pages 260-279.

Ph.D. In counseling MA In Counseling BS In Psychology

Awards and Honors
Previous president of NCOCA (North Central Ohio Counseling Association); previous president of Chi Sigma Iota. Two years VISTA volunteer on Navajo reservation in Inscription House and Shonto.

Past/Present Clients
Do to HIPAA privacy laws, I do not release any info about my client.

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