For many Nigerians, therapy is expensive and hard to access. This is because Nigeria suffers from treating mental health issues as exotic cultural concepts that don’t deserve to be paid more attention to or sufficiently invested in.
However, for some Nigerians, therapy has offered an alternate path to healing, but because bad things always happen, their experiences with therapy haven’t always been rosy. Below, five Nigerians share the worst therapy experiences they have gone through.
In 2018, during my service year, I had a meltdown in my office and a colleague of mine recommended I see another staff member who studied psychology and would often offer his services as a therapist to his coworkers. I went to see him that day, determined not to open up to him but he was so charming and kind that I eventually did. We bonded quickly and were always texting each other. About 3 months into our daily sessions where I would go to his office and we would talk, I went just before we closed and he offered to drop me at my destination. We talked all the way there and as soon as he parked, he held my hand and I quickly pulled away. He then said and I’ll never forget “why are you afraid of people being attracted to you?”, I couldn’t respond because I was freaked out so I got out of the car. He later apologized for the incident then went on to tell me how he felt about me over the weeks that followed. I was initially confused as to whether I should reciprocate his feelings because he was one of the few people who at that point in my life listened to me and cared about me so I didn’t want to lose him. I eventually told him I felt the same and we began seeing each other casually. I felt so guilty because he was married with kids but he would go on and on about how he was unhappy with his life and would leave his family if he could. This made me feel bad for him and so I stayed until one day in 2019 when I couldn’t take the guilt any longer. We had only kissed once by that time and I didn’t want it to go further. He left me a lot for a while then he popped back into my life at the beginning of 2020 with the guise of caring about my well-being and wanting to give me a present for my birthday. He gave me my present and asked that we hang out sometime. His gift was quite generous and I really thought he just wanted us to sit and talk. Long story short, he booked us a hotel room, we had sex, it was horrible and I felt so bad.
The first therapist I met with was supposed to administer a personality test and in one of the forms, I stated that I am a lesbian. The therapist went into this long lecture about how he’s not invalidating my identity, but he has noticed that children who grow up without a good father figure or who grew up in abusive households usually turn out gay and he’s not saying that that’s the reason for me but that’s what studies show and my history that I shared with him is showing that I also went through the same kind of things growing up and that’s why I’m a lesbian. I managed to survive that part and I went to see the second therapist whose only job was to give me my meds and ask if I’m okay. He asked if I had a boyfriend and I said I had a girlfriend. He then asked who the man in my relationship is. I told him there was no man since we’re both women then he proceeded to ask how I and my girlfriend have sex. I really just wanted to punch him in the face at that point. As if all of that wasn’t enough, at my last appointment at the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, the therapist (a different one) asked who the man in my relationship is and kept insisting that there’s a man. Later on, he asked if I had ever thought of changing my sexuality (the first therapist asked this as well) and told me that we’ll talk about how to stop being gay in my next appointment. So basically conversion therapy. I don’t think I’m going back there.
The therapist was a psychologist and a psychiatrist at a public hospital. During my sessions, he disregarded an important fact that I had mania episodes. They were not often but were important in my story. We had three sessions and in that period, he touched me inappropriately twice. It was a kind of touch where you’re not sure if he crossed the line or if you’re just overreacting. It was definitely unprofessional and made me really uncomfortable. I decided to try a popular mental health NGO, that too was a total waste of time. The person I spoke with made me feel t like I was just stressing him. At some point, I had to pretend I was okay so it could end.
I’ve been in therapy on and off since I was 10. At that age, my parents were about to get divorced. My therapist then was a deeper life lady who blames me (the 10-year-old) for going to my mum with proof about my dad’s infidelity (the reason for the proposed divorce
And you know modern women (my mum) who can’t handle a little abuse and cheating here and there. My most recent ones have been the white male gay who wanted me to come out to my parents. And spent all our sessions (they are 150$ a pop, in this economy) talking either about queerness or about how ‘Africa’ is so backward. The First Lady was tied to my school so I mean she told everyone and would even take me from classes if I ‘missed’ a session (she’d go to my teachers and ask them about me), but I think it’s the microaggression and racist comments that take the cake for me.
In February 2020, I was dealing with trauma from rape and battling depression/anxiety for a period. I decided I needed therapy but I wanted faith-based counseling (I’m a Christian). I went to the Counselling unit in my church. The session went on for about 30 minutes and from the first impression, the lady didn’t seem welcoming but I was already there so I didn’t want to chicken out. The first time she called my name, she called me “Ashirat”, this was after I had spelled my name out for her on the piece of paper she was writing on. The door of the Counselling room was ajar and I could hear clearly the conversation happening in the adjacent room, so I was sure they could hear us too. And even as I tried to keep my voice down to manage some privacy, she kept talking at full volume. After I told her about my experience, she basically preached God’s grace to me, likening me to a harlot. Then she told me it’s been so long and I need to get over the experience. The good news is that I found a proper faith-based counseling service in Lekki and they’ve been quite helpful.