TELL is a resource, referral, and networking organization that seeks to help victims and survivors of exploitation by psychotherapists and other healthcare providers find the support and resources they will need to understand what has happened to them, take action, and heal.
History of TELL
In the spring of 1989, The Boston Globe publicized the issue of therapy exploitation by highlighting cases involving two prominent psychiatrists in the Boston area. Three women who had been exploited by other psychotherapists, and who had met one another through a mutually known psychotherapist, contacted the women whose stories had been publicized. The five women got together that July to explore the possibility of starting a networking and support group. One of these founders, a former advertising copywriter, suggested the acronym TELL to stand for Therapy Exploitation Link Line, a name that was quickly accepted by all.
As a subsequent treater of one of TELL’s five founders, Boston social worker Nancy Avery agreed to call her colleagues to ask whether any of them were currently treating or had treated women who had been similarly abused and who might be interested in meeting with other victims/survivors. As a result, the first meeting, held in October of that year, drew twelve women who shared their stories, some for the first time beyond the closed doors of subsequent treatment.
With the help of additional publicity, referrals from attorneys and subsequent-treating psychotherapists, and word of mouth, attendance at TELL’s monthly meetings quickly reached 40 to 50. One of the founders agreed to host a telephone hot-line which increasingly was used by a geographically wider and wider number of victims/survivors from across the United States and Canada, some seeking to start similar groups in their own areas. Leadership of TELL meetings was shared by the founders and regular attendees.
As the needs of the attendees at TELL meetings became better identified, Boston attorney Linda Jorgenson was invited to give practical advice to those considering legal or licensing board actions. A sympathetic female psychotherapist was also included for several meetings to help clarify appropriate psychotherapeutic boundaries and to lend support.
TELL also held a number of public meetings on specific issues such as legal concerns and healing, with speakers drawn from both the victims/survivors and professional communities. Family members of victims/survivors, interested professionals, and media representatives were invited, often leading to overflow crowds.
Representatives of the various media contacted TELL seeking commentary and input from the victim’s point of view. As a result, TELL representatives appeared on national television talk shows such as Donohue and Geraldo, radio shows, were called as consultants in the Nova special entitled “My Doctor-My Lover,” and were in demand by print-media journalists, academics who wanted classroom speakers, and professional organizations that wanted to include the victim’s point of view in their educational programs. TELL participants have also served on the planning boards for conferences and lectured to medical and law students.
Some TELL representatives have become politically active, sponsoring bills and testifying at public hearings. Others have worked on committees to help draft patients’ bills of rights and to assist professional organizations and boards in developing procedures for handling complaints. Some have participated in on-going dialogue groups with members of the psychotherapy professions in an attempt to find common and understandable interests between professionals and consumers.
In 1992, The American Psychiatric Association awarded TELL its Assembly Speakers Award for its work.
By 1997, TELL ceased to hold regular public meetings in Boston. Chapters formed in other parts of the country were short-lived. Assisted for many years by an association with Advocateweb.org, today TELL exists largely as a cyberspace organization with its volunteers from across the USA, Canada, and Australia connected by internet. Thousands of victims/survivors, referred by their attorneys, subsequent treaters, and others, or who have found us through web searches, contact TELL to find the information and support they need.
From time to time, volunteers hold TELL meetings to give victims/survivors a chance to get together, further breaking the sense of isolation that each feels as a result of having been exploited. When these meetings take place, there will be a notice posted on the home page of this web site.
Who We Are
- TELL is a resource, referral, and support network run by victims/survivors for victims/survivors of sexual and emotional abuse by psychotherapists and other healthcare professionals.
- All responders to TELL e-mail inquiries are volunteers who have themselves been exploited in psychotherapy or other healthcare settings.
- No volunteer is paid for working with TELL.
- Who We Are Not
- TELL is not a charity and neither requests nor accepts financial contributions.
- TELL is not a membership organization. No membership or contact lists are kept, and there is no fee for using the TELL website or network.
- TELL is not engaged in any for-profit ventures and is neither affiliated with, sponsored by, nor sponsors of any for-profit ventures.
What We Do
- By suggesting resources and readings, TELL helps victims/survivors help themselves.
- When possible and appropriate, TELL helps victims/survivors network with one another.
- TELL helps victims/survivors become aware of, understand and weigh their options.
- TELL recommends that victims/survivors seek responsible and knowledgeable support. TELL volunteers are available to serve as sounding boards for victims/survivors who have concerns about the support they are receiving.
- When available, TELL supplies speakers for professional conferences, meetings, teaching venues, and media interviews.
- When possible, TELL will facilitate networking with individuals who have specialized knowledge in relevant aspects of abuse in psychotherapy settings.
What We Don’t Do
- TELL is not equipped to deal with issues of pedophilia, incest, domestic abuse or rape (except when it occurs within a therapy or healthcare setting).
- TELL is not equipped to deal with abuse by clergy (except when the clergy person is practicing psychotherapy or counseling).
- TELL does not recommend specific subsequent therapists.
- TELL does not provide legal advice.
- Although some TELL volunteers are also psychotherapists, TELL does not provide psychotherapy.
- TELL does not keep a database of abusers’ names or other identifying information.
- TELL does not keep a database of victims/survivors names or other contact or identifying information.
- TELL does not provide information on victims/survivors or abusive practitioners to any medical, or other certifying or licensing boards or agencies.