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Grievance Report against: Barry University Counseling & Psychological Services By Te-Ericka Patterson Throughout my life I have experienced abusive relationships with men. I have been physically, mentally and sexually abused and when it began to affect my performance at work I knew I had to do something. I waited a while and tried counseling myself since I am a counseling graduate student, but I could not get it together. My disgust for men had now escalated into full out fear and rejection of them. After a phone call from one of my ex boyfriends from high school, I called my best friend and said, “I think he’s trying to kill me. Please, if something happens to me, just know it’s him.” Yes, I firmly believed all men were out to attack me and this caused many setbacks in my career and my personal life. My best friend asked me to seek counseling and I did. I reached out to the Barry University Counseling Center and asked for a counselor. When I heard that he was a male, I cringed but I agreed because I figured this was the best way to work through my hang ups. I began my sessions with my counselor Omari Keeles sometime in September. The sessions were intense and sometimes fun. At first I feared he hated me too but after about a month, I relaxed and actually began to look forward to seeing him each week. I shared my soul. I faced my biggest fear; emotional intimacy with a man. Even though each week I cried after each session, thinking that he was going to hate me the more he got to know me, I went anyway, honestly, because for the first time, a man smiled when he saw me. No man does that. Every man hates me after getting to know me. But I went because I wanted healing. I wanted to be loved eventually and I figured that my counselor could tell me why I was unloveable and help me work on it. Omari didn’t reject me. He told me that he saw nothing about me that would turn men off. He helped me to see that it was my rejection of them that caused the problem. I wouldn’t allow anyone in. I would never let anyone get close. I believed him. I trusted him. I began to admire him and I was so grateful to have met him. By the time our sessions were over, I had begun dating men again which was absolutely absurd to those who knew me. I honestly hoped to experience what I experienced with Omari, complete freedom to be me. He let me be me. He didn’t laugh at me and he smiled at me. On December 7th, we ended our sessions and the next day I was so sad. I missed him and the freedom to be my complete self and not be judged. I allowed myself the opportunity to mourn as I recognized that I would never forget him because he helped me to become attracted to men again. He renewed my faith in men. Knowing him made me want to
give men a chance again. I wanted to be loved by someone who would accept me like he did. That was the greatest feeling. The next evening he crossed my mind and I looked him up on google and up popped his Facebook page among the search results.
Shocked and curious I took a peek and saw that his page was open for the world to see. I read through his status updates and cringed when I saw that he had written about me. Although he did not mention me by name he wrote about our session where I brought in the music he suggested that I listen to. That day I wanted to share with him what a healing force his musical recommendation had been in my life. I didn’t expect to see him ranting about how blessings come in the form of his most overwhelming, challenging, erratic clients. My heart sank. Is that what he thinks of me? I took out my calendar and decided to go to the days when I was scheduled to see him to see if he had written anything else about me. On several status updates dated on the same Tuesdays that I met with him, he often ranted about how much his clients were “whipping him”. I started crying. I was devastated. When I read that he and his supervisors sat and listened to his taped sessions and his supervisors jaw dropped to the floor I had an anxiety attack. Yes, I am paranoid. No, I do not trust people taping me, especially when I am revealing things that even my best friend doesn’t know. I imagined them sitting there laughing at me as I poured out my heart. How could they do that? I’m a real person too. Why laugh? Why hate me when I came to you for help? I know I’m not the easiest person to know but that’s why I came in, so you could help me? And you laughed at me. And you discussed my personal issues in front of your friends on FACEBOOK. And in one entry, he even wrote about how his “client” was considering doctoral programs and asked him about the University of Miami. Although he never used my name in any of the entries, I recognized myself because I had asked him that. On another date that was time stamped not even two hours after our session, he wrote: Borderlines make me freebase. Borderline? I looked up the term to refresh my memory and I did recognize myself in some of the characteristics. Am I Borderline? I asked him when we were in session if he thought I needed to see the psychiatrist and he said No.
Why did he lie if he really thought I was mentally ill? Why does every single man who gets to know me, hate me? I thought I had experienced something different but no, even a trained professional hated me. He was just better at hiding it. I went into tailspin mentally. I tried to shrug it off but I had no sleep that night his words echoing in my thoughts. Borderline? Am I Borderline? Lots of people think I’m crazy. I don’t think like anyone else. I see the world differently but that doesn’t make me a label. I wrestled with my thoughts the entire day Thursday and could barely practice for my poetry performance that evening. I couldn’t concentrate on my performance because all of these suicidal thoughts were racing through my mind. What kind of mother can you be if you are mentally ill? Your kids don’t need a mother like you. Your children’s father was right about you; you are a loser. You don’t belong in this world. A total stranger got to know you and you let him see ALL of you and he hates you too. You are a loser. You should die. You don’t belong here. I wanted to call the suicide hotline but I couldn’t bare the thought of my phone call being recorded and shared and laughed at behind the scenes. In order to work myself through the angst I wrote Omari an email on December 9, 2010 detailing how I felt about his open facebook page. The next day I got a call from the Counseling Center Director, Dr. Scott. He said to me that Omari had forwarded him the email I sent him and he apologized on behalf of Omari and asked if I wanted to come in and speak with him about it. I declined the offer, bursting into tears at the thought of being recorded again and having them laugh at my open wounds again. Dr. Scott readily admitted that Omari said that the Erykah Badu status update was about me but the rest of the updates were not about me. I didn’t believe him. Omari made those updates almost exclusively immediately AFTER our sessions and I had even screen shot a few of them because my intuition told me to. I have them in my files. I tried my best to work through this trauma by diving head first into my creative work. I decided to let it go and I wrote Omari another email on Saturday, December 11, 2010 telling him that I had decided to define myself for myself and I am okay. But I wasn’t, really. I was trying to be. I grasped diligently for the relieving thought but none came. Just the thought of him made me sad. Even after what he had written about me, I didn’t want him to get in trouble because I cared about his career and his success. I decided not to do anything else except my creative work. I stopped dating the men I had met. I couldn’t chance them getting to know me and hurt me like all the rest. I still couldn’t sleep asking myself over and over, “What is it about me that makes men hate me?” I desperately wanted to speak to Omari to ask him just so I’ll know and maybe
change it. Why would he not tell me? If he had just TOLD me what was so unloveable about me, I would have worked on it. I would have. I want to be better. I want to be loved. I managed to sleep for two hours the next day. I didn’t sleep again the next night and by the mid afternoon I was deep in depressive thoughts again. So on January 5, 2011, I stumbled in my thoughts and called the Barry Counseling Center. I spoke with the secretary and asked her if she could help me find somewhere to go for counseling. She put one of their counselors, a lady named Laura on the phone. I did not want to speak to her but I did. I didn’t say everything at first but I got the nerve to call back and say what I wanted to say, “I want this to go on record,” I told her. “I believe my counselor has been following me.” I did. There was a silver Infiniti that showed up to two of the places that I frequent to perform poetry and the first time I only saw the lower half of the person’s body who sat inside. The silver car which I believe to be an Infiniti had 4 doors and had dark tints all the way around, even the front and the tag was a Florida tag with a Warren Henry (car dealership) plate around it. Laura, from the counseling center explained that there was no way that we could ever know what kind of car Omari drives and no way I could ever know if that was Omari following me and it was okay to feel the way I felt because I had gone through a very traumatic situation. She then suggested I go to Henderson Mental Health Center if I needed help but I already knew that Henderson does not offer continued therapy to clients. She called me back saying that she had called Omari and asked him if he drove a silver Infiniti like the one I described and he said No. She suggested once again, that I seek mental health services. Just today I was forwarded a video from the night I believe I first saw Omari in the silver car and to my surprise a shot taken from outside the front of the club displays the car I saw on both occasions prominently parked in precisely the spot I saw it parked in on December 9, 2010.
Is this car registered to Omari Keeles at Barry University? If so, I spotted this car twice near my poetry events AFTER the termination of our sessions. The first time was on December 9, 2010 outside of the Legends Café (as pictured above.) The second time was January 3, 2011 outside of Blusters located at 115 N. 21st Ave; Hollywood FL. If he was showing up at my poetry events I want to know what his motivations were? Is he upset with me? Is he out to harm me? Are my fears unfounded? Why didn’t he just TELL ME when we were in session that he thought I was Borderline? Why did he pretend like I’m okay and then mock me on his Facebook page? I’m delusional? I’m imagining that he’s following me and out to get me? I’m imagining it? Why would I do that? I don’t trust speaking to any counselors at Barry and I do not know what to do at this point? I have no car, no health insurance and I’m about to start my own counseling practicum. How will I process all of this by myself? I reached out to Omari for the last time on January 9th. I wrote an email to his personal email address pleading with him to tell me why he hated me so much and why he thought I was so disgusting that he would write such negative things about me on Facebook. I needed an answer for my own piece of mind. He never replied. The next day, January 10, 2011 I received a phone call from Laura asking if I was okay. I told her I wasn’t. She said that Omari called her and told her that I had emailed him again. She let me know that Omari would not reply because there are limitations on counselor/client interaction after sessions are terminated. She told me that Omari no longer worked at Barry. She also told me that if I emailed Omari again the email will probably bounce back as he will be deleting that email account. She asked me once
again, if I would like to come in and speak with her. I declined saying, “I do not trust any of you. I’m not sure I can ever go see a counselor again.” The mental anguish I experienced as a result of being blatantly ridiculed on Facebook has caused a decrease in the productivity of my creative work as well as a debilitating sense of insecurity. I have had to stop performing poetry. I have no car and walking late at night to the poetry venues feels uncomfortable to me not knowing who is watching or what their motives are. I barely go outside and going outside at night causes my anxiety to flare up. I have no idea what to do. I wanted desperately to prove to myself that I am not delusional about seeing him on my poetry nights but without a police order I cannot get access to his drivers record to see if he or anyone in his family has leased a silver Infiniti in the last few years. I do consider the option that I am wrong about seeing him. But if I am and I am Borderline like he said on his Facebook page then how can I get the help I need with no resources and no trust in the counseling system? I feel myself falling into a deep abyss of despair more and more each day. I do not sleep. I can not eat. I barely have energy to look for work. I’m uncertain whether I will be able to make it through my practicum. It’s as though my mind is battling against appreciating him for being there for me during that tumultuous period and fearing retaliation for his removal from Barry University. I feel conflicted. On one hand I miss the freedom I had with him on the other hand I fear him. How can I reconcile this conflict? I do not feel safe internally or externally. How do I begin to recover from this? On January 10, 2011 I called the counseling center and asked to speak with Dr. Scott. When I was told he was on leave I asked for his superior and was given the name Dr. McDonough. I left a message for her and she returned my call. I recounted the situation briefly and told her that I would like to file a grievance formally against the counseling center. She informed me that Omari was no longer employed with Barry University. I told her I wanted this incident which is a blatant breach of confidentiality, formally recognized by Barry University. She directed me toward the Barry Student Handbook and the grievance process and let me know that when I am done with my letter I should turn it in to her and she will take it through the necessary steps. As a future mental health professional I am adamant about ensuring that this never happens again. I want Barry University to officially acknowledge that this incident took place. There should be protocol in place which strictly and plainly prohibits counselors from criticizing and analyzing their counseling sessions over the internet for their entertainment. I would never want to be the cause of this much angst in someone’s life, not over a few “Likes” and comments from my internet friends. Te-Ericka Patterson
Official Response From Barry University
From: McDonough, Eileen D [email@example.com] Sent: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 6:37 AM To: Alvarez, Maria; Patterson, Te-Ericka (Student) Subject: RE: Grivance filed in Dean of Students' Office
Nice letter. Thanks. Eileen
From: Alvarez, Maria Sent: Tuesday, January 18, 2011 3:21 PM To: Patterson, Te-Ericka (STUDENT) Subject: Grivance filed in Dean of Students' Office
Re: Grievance Dear Ms. Patterson: I have read your grievance and this letter serves as my official and final disposition of your grievance against our Center for Counseling and Psychological Services. What Mr. Omari Keeles did with his posting was inappropriate and unprofessional and the university has taken action. I know that you have been informed that he is no longer counseling students at Barry University. His actions were in direct violation of the policies and procedures of the Counseling Center, including their policy on confidentiality. I am enclosing a copy of that policy for your perusal. I am very sorry that you underwent such an ordeal. If there is anything else with which I might be of assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me. Sincerely,
Maria Luisa Alvarez, Ph.D.
Associate Vice President, Student Affairs and Dean of Students (305) 899-3085 Landon Student Union, Suite 300 The student, a candidate for a Masters in counseling, is registered to begin her own internship as a counselor but finds her progress is interrupted by anxiety attacks in the workplace as soon as her internship begins.
Since the University neither confirmed nor denied int heir formal response whether Omari W. Keeles had a car registered at the school or at his home school The University
of Miami, with a silver Infiniti 4 door purchased or leased at Warren Henry Infiniti, she is extremely paranoid and her anxiety is exacerbated. Due to emotional stress and strain of economical hardships as well as extreme anxiety attacks during her counseling internship, even IN FRONT OF HER CLIENTS, caused by flashbacks and lack of trust, the student requests to withdraw from the university for the semester. On February 9, 2011, Barry University grants a medical withdrawal with the request that the student will return to the university with a signed letter from a COUNSELING PROFESSIONAL who has deemed the student ready to return to school. The student can not afford counseling and is too traumatized to undergo further counseling treatment. End of student’s professional career as a counselor.
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