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  • Giustina D'Elia

2020

2020.

My only intention this year was to heal my relationship with money. I’m one year into being an entrepreneur and I’ve hit that pit of financial stress, “Why did I do this? What the fuck am I doing? I need to find a full time job with benefits and secured pension yesterday?!” kind of despair. At the same time I absolutely love what I get to do, I want to keep doing it and somewhere deep down I know that this is just a test. The burning desire for success is filled with faith.


I’ve always been responsible and somewhat panicked yet trusting of the universe when it comes to money. Something always comes through, but I never seemed to make enough to get up the financial slide of wealth and riches.


I grew up poor, almost having to live in a shelter kind of poor. There was domestic abuse, neglect, physical violence, toxic masculinity and femininity in my family. Everyone struggling with the struggle. I grew up in a single parent household when my father left to start a new life and family with the woman he left us for. I started working at 11 years old. I left home at 16 and dropped out of high school twice before moving on to complete university. I’ve held many jobs but nothing as significant as traveling the world as a motivational speaker encouraging youth into philanthropy.


Let me be clear… this isn’t a feel sorry for me kind of thing.


This is a plea to the universe that something has to give.


Because what is in the way is the way.


As a woman I have had to fight to earn less than men who worked in the same position as me for less amount of time than I did, men who also received staff housing and perks just because they were men. You know who I was, the angry one, with a chip on her shoulder alpha "G" female who had opinions and an attitude to go with it.

No salary raises but I raised issues that changed policy. Policies that continue to be used today. Aint that some shit?


What’s in the way?


Shame. The cure for shame is exposure.

10 years ago I went into therapy to heal a broken heart. My therapist at the time offered to “help” me find my way. Psychotherapy wasn’t covered under my benefits, as my job at the time was working for a children’s charity. As we all know working for a charity does not pay much, I was raising local and global awareness about poverty issues while living below the poverty line. I was also the charity.


A year or so into my therapy, my therapist continued to suggest that I try group therapy with her husband. I had declined the offer many times but she insisted it would help further along my therapeutic process. I was adamant to heal my wounds so I accepted the offer and decided to give it a try. Because of my financial situation, just meaning I wasn’t able to afford both weekly individual and group therapy. She offered a bartering system where I would clean the office in return for group therapy. I was thankful and appreciated her kind gesture, thinking finally some help.


As I started to complete my personal therapy, she suggested I enroll in the psychotherapy training program that both she and her husband created. At the time psychotherapy was an unregulated profession and was not offered in traditional colleges and universities and could only be found in private schools that were operating as educational institutions. My therapist (who then became my teacher and clinical supervisor) was aware of my financial situation and suggested I apply for a scholarship, which I did and I was granted partial funding for the first year. As I still had to cover the remaining tuition, I often brought my anxiety and stress to our sessions regarding tuition fees and the financial cost of this program. She assured me that she understood my financial situation and wanted to help. She said I shouldn’t worry about paying her back and that is endeavor would change my life and provide me with a financially secure career. She would often refer to me as the daughter she never had and wanted to help me better my life. I looked up to her and fell into her trap of “good mommy”.


Having had a very difficult relationship with my own mother and no contact with my father, this felt like a god sent opportunity that would change my life for the better.


I trusted her, and that is where I made one the biggest mistakes and learned some of the greatest lessons of my life.


I had set out to heal my childhood wounds, I wanted to create a life for myself that was respectable, honorable, to be of value and service. As I sit here writing this, all of those things could be further from how I truly feel.


5 years ago today I started my psychotherapy internship, I had a growing practice, I was being mentored, and I was on my way to doing something good in the world, I had found a way to use my wounds as an opportunity to help others. Since then, I’ve completed the program and all of the internship requirements. I spent thousands of dollars on becoming what the professional field would refer to as a “registered psychotherapist.” Upon completion of the program I realized what a farce it all was. I woke up to a nightmare, I was being controlled, manipulated and constantly gas lighted. I had been threatened to keep secrets to prevent a scandal that would jeopardize the founder’s careers and coerced into doing things that were not in my best interest. I was left traumatized, homeless, in huge financial debt and both witness and participant to unethical practices by my mentors. Throughout my education I was encouraged to blend both my personal and professional life. I suffered major losses including my reputation. Due to the severity of the situation, I chose to step back from my career, a career that had yet to begin. Defeated, embarrassed and ashamed.


I spent over a year and half conflicted on what to do and how I felt about the “healers” in the mental health field. What was I going to do with my life after having spent so much time and energy invested in a field I didn’t believe in anymore? The “school” I went to failed to obtain the credentials that would make it a viable training program, so I was misled and given a false sense of security which led me to believe that I would have a successful career in the field of psychotherapy.


I knew I had something of value to share, I knew I wanted to return but I didn’t know in what capacity.


I filed a report with the CRPO (College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario) against both of my therapists, and the training “school” they both founded. I came forward because it was the right thing to do. I blew the whistle. I experienced firsthand the inadequacies of policy makers and regulating officials. The CRPO has done nothing to help me or the countless victims who endured fraudulent misrepresentation and/or traumatic abuse from the therapists who founded the school. In fact they are in the midst of protecting themselves from the fallout should it go public. Well, it is public now. The shadow can only remain hidden for so long. Call me impatient, juvenile, rageful, having issues with authority … to that I quote Martin Luther King on his day “our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” This matters.


Since I came forward, there have been numerous reports and complaints made about this “school” to the CRPO, Private Career Colleges of Ontario and the Ministry of Health and Education. There are currently multiple investigations taking place and lawsuits pending. Emails, phone calls, questions, lawyers, applications and bureaucratic stalemates. Yet no one has stepped up or stepped in to address or help the students.


This also isn’t the first time the male founder of the “school” has had legal issues. During the time I spent months trying to obtain legal representation, I was informed that the male founder had his medical license application revoked due to sexual misconduct in 2003 before opening the school. This information was not disclosed during the initial interview process for applicants, however a false version of the story was revealed to students a year into the program once tuition had been paid and a relationship had been built.


And then there’s me. The truth teller. The whistleblower.


I do not wish to spend any more time or energy beating myself up with regret, shame, punishment, holding secrets that protect the abusers and struggling with limiting beliefs.


I did some shit I’m not proud of, I got involved with people, I went along with things, I let other people tell me who I was and I believed them. I made choices that did not reflect my best self. I am truly sorry. I trusted people in positions of authority who abused their power over me because I did not know how to trust my own power of authority. I was being manipulated, controlled and groomed by predators who did not have my best interest at heart. A lot of my learning came from getting myself out of situations, out of the middle, it pushed me to find my power, my truth, and my voice and do whatever it took to stand up.


I wanted better for myself, I was open to learning, and I invested in myself and in a career that would allow me the opportunity to help others.


I believed in a dream while I was being sold a nightmare.


I was used for sexual gratification as a child and was taught to place my value on being fucked but not loved. And I got fucked right the fuck over when I tried to heal those wounds by “licensed professionals” who did not do the work to heal themselves. I refuse to be your collateral damage.


I’ve grappled with ethics, morals and transparency. What is the right thing to do in this never ending apocalyptic shit storm? I decide who I am. Thank you Chelsea Handler. You have been a constant source of female empowerment and an inspiring example of a women who is fearless, who owns her shit, who stands up for others.


Leah Remini, if you’re reading this, I want to thank you for all the times I turned to you for strength, courage and wisdom to keep going when I didn’t want to or know how to. Thank you for breaking your silence, for standing up for what is right even if that meant sacrificing everything and for giving victims a safe place to heal and be heard. You have been an inspiration and guiding light in my life.


Thank you to the people who have personally encouraged me, who have reminded me of who I am when I lost sight of it, who have stood by me throughout this entire ordeal and pushed me to speak up. I would not be here today without your bursts of light. You know who you are, I am forever grateful for your kindness, generosity and love.


2020. the comeup.

I have made the decision to practice as a counselor, I have created a platform for healing and will continue to share my life experiences publicly. I will continue to tell the truth even if it’s ugly, messy, upsetting and filled with unfortunate consequences, because that is how I sleep at night. I am human, and I have made some gut wrenching mistakes that I have learned from and will continue to grow from them because that is who I am. I forgive myself. I love myself. And that is one of the hardest things I have ever learned how to do.


When I set on my journey of becoming a licensed psychotherapist, the field was not yet regulated, but I knew the work was real and I could help many people. I was looking forward to when the field would be regulated, I was eager to become part of the regulated college. However, after having witnessed the internal corruption, lack of mental health training within a mental health regulating body; the newly appointed College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario have left myself and many others disheartened to say the least. I have logged well over a thousand hours as both a therapist/counselor and as a client. I have put in the blood, sweat, tears and broken bones and yet I find myself in an unfair position where I cannot call myself a psychotherapist because I do not have the “credentials” in the form of a piece of paper. While I’m still conflicted as to what this all means for my career moving forward, what I do have is my education, my life experiences and my will to succeed.


Having experienced the dark side of mental health, I do not wish to remain silent any longer.

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