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Gary Direnfeld / bullying, inappropriate, unprofessional

1 Oakville, Ontario, Canada Review updated:

I sought out an appointment with Gary Direnfeld as I was engaged to a man with whom I had a 10 month old baby, and various anger management issues, etc., had gone beyond what I could manage on my own (since the birth of my son), and I had seen Gary on TV and had appreciated his calm, forthright manner with the couples. My son's dad and I had already been to counseling but the therapist's reaction to my significant other having hit me on 2 occasions was: "Are you going to do it again 'Joe'?" ...no..."OK, then he said no, do you think you can move past this so we can move along Jane?"...that was it! ...and along with other trivializations of what we went through, hence my hopes in another therapist, Gary.
I paid an exorbitant amount of money (almost $400) for 90 minutes, out of my maternity leave pay as I was so desperate for something that would be worth our while as I wanted answers for my son and I...whether it was advice on how to stay together with his dad or to part ways - I was willing to hear it.
The emotional trauma of that 90 minutes has never left me, ...after listening to what I'm certain was no more unusual that many couples' issues of insecurities, lack of coping skills, anger management issues (I would find out years later that my ex had been brutally abused as a young child by his mother, abandoned by his father, and had left home to live with 'friends' at a young age), hence many of his issues which greatly exacerbated after I had my son. Anyway, after very little listening, Gary proceeded to rant at the two of us, in a way I have never seen other than perhaps on 'Judge Judy' or something of the like...it was like an angry, mean, cruel version of 'Dr. Phil'. I was stunned silent and gutted at the things he said. He went so far as to say that we should have never had a child, that we didn't deserve our child, and that if we "were decent people, we would give up our child for adoption"!!! Now, I can imagine that being advice that's reasonable for some horrible, abusive parents somewhere out there in the world, but this was so off-base it was absolutely flabbergasting. Our child was loved, adored, well-cared for, by us and by my whole extended group of loving family and friends. Yes, we were not getting along, and we did not belong together as a couple, but we both loved our son and are (and were always) loving and doting parents to him. He is the very center of our lives.
He really went off on my ex as well, and while I probably didn't mind (at that time) my ex being told that "There would never be enough 'tools in his toolbox' for us to work it out", to this day I don't see where the therapeutic value was in much of what he said.
In hindsight I have to wonder if he was going through his own issues or something else was going on to affect his judgment and demeanour...but either way, I will never forget that comment that I should give up my child for adoption. I cried myself to sleep for weeks. I would intermittently think of this for months and years to come, and wonder what it was about me (and my ex) that we should be told by someone so 'expert' and 'trained' and celebrated, to give up our child??? I am so like my sisters, cousins, girlfriends, etc., in my mothering, nurturing and love for my child. I'm a health professional and a smart, caring, kind one... and a volunteer in society and I sit on boards dedicated to child welfare issues as one of my interests...how could giving up my child be something he could say to me???! (of course he didn't know any of these things about me, or what kind of mother I was).
I imagined that maybe he thought we were a couple of people that he could just get away with this, and wield his 'power' over our vulnerable state, project his own anger at whatever (?) onto us, or whomever was unlucky enough to walk into his home that day...I will never really understand. But this has sat in my heart so heavily for so long. I always wanted to relieve myself of the burden of his cruel suggestion, but didn't know how, couldn't understand it.
Well, I did leave my ex a month later, just because I knew it could not work without my ex choosing to deal with his anger against women, and it wouldn't be a great environment for my son to grow up in. My ex is a much better person, and a happier, better dad around my son since I left him almost 5 years ago now. Becoming a father helped him in many ways, and although I know he still struggles in his relationships with women, at least my son isn't there to be witness to it for any length of time. His dad lives a few hours away and so he visits him for all long holiday periods and long weekends, but is primarily with me and his step-dad.
My son is the happiest, smartest, most engaging child, and continues to be the center of my whole world. And I am a wonderful mother and I shouldn't tear up when I hear this from my son, or my husband, or my mom, or my friends...but I do, because this horrible fear and judgment sat with me so long...and I guess still lingers despite the fact that it doesn't seem rationale.
I will never be able to guess at why Gary said those things, and I get that people are human, they have bad days, and aren't always right at the top of their game...but in his field, there is no room for such a breach in ethics and duty to care.
I know he has knowledge and has had great successes; but I hope there isn't even one other single person like my ex and I who suffered at his judgments like we did. If he could make 2 educated professionals who love and care for a child wonderfully, feel so absolutely gutted as parents (and when we went to him for help with marital counseling!), what effect could he have had on those with less esteem, education, family support, etc.? I hate to think of a single other parent taking his harsh words to heart, while in a vulnerable state. I think Gary's ego can get away from him and yield him recklessly cruel, and this could put his patients/clients at risk.
I personally think maybe he has compassion fatigue and should stick to books and acting out his therapy on his reality TV show, where people can't be subjected to his unprofessional, acrid and off-base judgments.

Hu
May 31, 2013
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Comments

  • Ha
      19th of Jun, 2013
    +1 Votes

    I too have endured Gary's unprofessional comments. He takes great pleasure in tearing people apart. Bullying to get his way is definitely his style. There should be a disclaimer on his website. He told me he loved my children more than me. He also said he doesn't care about abuse. Then he quickly corrected himself say that he didn't mean to say that. I would never recommend him for anyone and I am stuck with him for the next six months. I will certainly report him once our agreement ends. My friend is a lawyer for Children's Aid and cannot believe his unprofessional behavior. He definitely loves power and belittling people. Scary.

  • Ma
      20th of Jun, 2013
    +1 Votes

    If you are considering using Gary Direnfeld please listen to all comments. There have been a lot more similar comments but they have been removed!! Bullying and abusive is an understatement! He should not be allowed to practice tearing families apart while using his power for his own financial gain.

  • No
      11th of Aug, 2013
    +1 Votes

    I placed a comment here only 3 weeks ago and now it has disappeared: This could only mean one of two things, (a) This site is in cahoots with Gary D. or (B) most likely, he is using his lawyers to suppress complaints: The bast advice I can offer file a complaint with the Ontario College of College of Social Workers: http://www.ocswssw.org/
    PLEASE LAUNCH A FORMAL COMPLAINT AND STOP THIS PERSON BEFORE MORE HARM COMES TO PEOPLE!

  • No
      11th of Aug, 2013
    +1 Votes

    My offer still stands Gary D., place a notice here that you agree that you and I be examined by a team of psychologists recommend by the College of Psychologists and the results be made public; I will stand by my accusation that you need deep and long term mental support - its you or me..let's have a "real professional" opinion. Don't run and hide, go public!

  • Pu
      20th of Aug, 2014
    0 Votes

    PLEASE help us help others. This man Gary Direnfeld is a psychotic monster!

  • Pu
      11th of Aug, 2015
    0 Votes

    Late breaking news on Gary Direnfeld. It would appear that Gary Direnfeld social worker in Dundas has allegedly been instrumental in a local man taking his life due to the verbal abuse suffered at the hands of Mr. Direnfeld. Stay tuned for more news. If you have suffered at the hands of this menace you can post your email here and join our class action lawsuit.

  • St
      7th of Sep, 2015
    0 Votes

    The man suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder and should consult a reputable psychologist. I eventually got through months of depression and contemplating ways of suicide immediately following the first counseling session. His technique is the worst possible manner in which to approach dealing with people experiencing difficulties trying to cope with life's dilemmas. He would crucify you if he could. His verbal abuse is aimed at making a person emotionally unstable. I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

  • Pu
      14th of Sep, 2015
    0 Votes

    Please message me at publicvsdirenfeld@gmail.com
    My messages on this site often don't work.

  • St
      25th of Oct, 2015
    0 Votes

    I've taken the time to go over all the posts submitted as late as 2012 regarding Direnfeld and I have to wonder why this is still a growing concern given the fact that there are so many stories that should have already been reported to OCSWSSW and resolved in a professional and timely manner. Whether or not our complaints are taken into consideration by the College depends on each individual's situation. It would probably be most effective if people came together as a group and build a case against GD's grossly inappropriate behavior. This forum is useful for venting and/or connecting with others, but that's all it isl. From what I have read, what is evident throughout this process is that a lot of these posts are of a vindictive nature and express instances of paranoia (such as strongly believing that GD himself is posting comments). Reiterating the same comments over and over again will get us nowhere. If it's results we want, then someone should organize a team that will act upon all those unfair occurrences that have been voiced here so far. Individuals willing and able to handle this matter and plan a course of action in order to see that justice be done would have a lot more impact than to continue expressing our anger over the internet. Otherwise, let it go and move on.

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