Context: I chose Peter Sandhill in part because of the age gap between him and his wife. As an American man in a chauvinistic culture, I had encountered zero support for my choice of a fifty eight year old experienced lover who had spacious time, a quality life-style and loved to communicate on all the topics interesting to me. The fact that even alternative doctors I spoke with seemed to think that pert breasts outweighed all these considerations was frustrating, so when I met Sarah Sandhill and Peter Sandhill, who had made much the same choice by prioritizing inner qualities over body age seemed like a mark of intelligence to me. The fact that he was universally and unequivocally recommended without boundary or caveat by all of the facilitators was good enough for me.
I drove an hour to Peter's Home from San Rafael. I would have to do more digging to sort out the exact sequence of events. Around this time I had one couple's session with my first girlfriend in which Sarah And Peter Sandhill were a couple for both Alicia and I. I think it was after this one session, in which Alicia confirmed that she wanted to end our relationship rather than allow me the sexual freedom to explore that HAI workshops tended to facilitate.
In my first alone session with Peter he wore white sweat-pants, which are naturally fairly loose. Consequently, sitting cross-legged and about a foot away from him, facing each other, it was easy to notice the bulge in Peter's crotch. As I had learned in my HAI level 1, 2 and 3, I brought conscious attention to my observation:
"It seems like you have an erection. Is that true?"
"Yes it is."
"Why? Are you attracted to me?"
"Yes I am."
Questions: What is the most ethical and healthy way to handle this kind of situation in what is a therapeutic session? Would a professional without full therapeutic training likely understand the potential pitfalls of this moment? Is it ethical to conceal the absence of such training and licensing rather than to say something like: "Dane, I don't know how to handle this. It's not generally good practice to charge a therapeutic client to discuss the lust of their therapist and I should probably cancel the session and get some help because I am here to serve you and I honestly don't know what is the best thing for you, and this session is and should not be about me, since you are the client."
Concerns: There is a strong correlation in America between boys sexually abused by older men and the most heinous and sociopathic criminal behavior. Sexual abuse of boys by older men is not as common as the abuse of young girls by older men and yet in a recent assessment of the children being executed by the United States Government 50% of the male children showed evidence of being sexually abused by older men. Psychologists teach us that in the ecology of sociopathic criminal behavior, the first crime is typically done to the child, and no one protects the child. Later, unable to face the pain of being on the receiving side of the childhood abuse, the individual identifies with the abuser as a way of coping with helplessness, and compensates for the terror they cannot deal with by acting out the abuse on another innocent victim. The significant point is that in a culture that is homophobic, the greatest shame tends to be generated in innocent men who feel humiliated by being unable to protect themselves from male abuse. This feeling of humiliation, which in our culture lacks an advocate arena that is safe from further humiliation, seems to lead to the most violent externalization of the humiliation and helplessness. This suggests that young men in America blame themselves for their abuse and feel more inadequacy, which they must find an outlet for in someone who feels as helpless as they felt as a child. This makes the arena of male sexual abuse, particularly with heterosexual men, one of the most vulnerable arenas in a relationship between a bisexual or homosexual authority figure and a heterosexual client.
My deeper concerns are the pace and complete absence of questions. If you will note, I was asking the questions because I walked into a situation of a therapist with an erection alone in a room sitting less than a foot across from me and as someone abused by untrustworthy parents, my first safety precaution usually involves sorting out what is going on. However, the absence of an intake form and the absence of any questions at this time or in any subsequent work for fifteen years insured that Peter Sandhill remained willfully blind to such basic information as:
"Have you ever been abused by a man physically before?"
"Have you ever been abused sexually by a man before?"
"Have you been sexually abused by an authority figure/parent?"
"What are your feelings about homosexuality? How have you felt when you see gay men shamed in our culture? Do you feel safe being gay?"
"What are your feelings about having me be attracted to you? Does that increase or decrease your safety?"
The reason these questions are so vital is that it is impossible to know how best to help a heterosexual client in this situation without them being asked. They were never asked, which left Peter incapable of doing the ethical thing, even if he had wanted to.