Updated: September 1, 2010 [Part I will now appear at a later date than Part II because the article was updated to reflect what is currently happening - e.g. I had stated that no one had ever sued ACT and now that is no longer the case, hence the need for an update]
I am going to begin by telling my own story of what has been happening to me on the internet, to provide people with some context as to what is going on when they do Google searches on my name, Monica Pignotti. I am on the professional advisory board of an advocacy group for children, called Advocates for Children in Therapy (ACT). The purpose of ACT, is basically to expose dangerous, harmful practices that are being delivered to children in the name of "therapy" and to advocate for the victims. Needless to say, the therapists who are being so exposed are not happy with ACT and some have fought back with vicious attacks on critics such as myself. However, everything on the ACT website has been thoroughly documented and in spite of repeated threats to sue, no one has done so. [Update: This was true at the time I wrote it. However, on June 18, Ronald Federici, PsyD sued ACT, Jean Mercer and Charly Miller in small claims court in Virginia. He lost all three cases. However, following that, he filed a new, larger lawsuit in Circuit Court of Virginia asking for $300,000 in damages against me, Jean Mercer, Charly Miller, ACT, Larry Sarner and Linda Rosa. The case was removed to Federal court by the defendants who the filed Motions to Dismiss. On March 4, 2011 the case was dismissed on the grounds of jurisdiction and failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Main documents for this case are available on the Citizen Media Law website. Following the dismissal of this case, the anonymous smear campaign greatly escalated against me]
Note that this is an advocacy organization and thus, the tone of the website is one of an advocacy organization, not a professional journal. I do not write any of the material for the website, although one of the things I am being attacked for is the so-called "tone" of this website, while such people apparently ignore all the evidence that is there of the harm that is being done to children in the name of "therapy". While the content of the website does appear to be sensational, this is a matter of shooting the proverbial messenger because the truth about what is occurring is, in reality, quite horrific and it is difficult to tell it in a manner that would not appear sensational to a reader who is not aware of what is happening.
Additionally, adults are now coming forward who say they are survivors of this so-called therapy that they had to endure when they were children and are essentially blowing the whistle on the abuses and some of these courageous people have started their own blogs. Again, these are not my blogs and I have no control whatsoever over their content, yet my attackers are holding me responsible when these blogs were started by people who I have never even met, who I have no influence over whatsoever.
In some of the attacks on me, my attackers have made it evident that they feel justified in telling intentional lies about me because they claim that these whistle blowers are telling lies about them. My only advice to people has been to look at the blog entries, read the testimonials of the survivors and decide for yourselves whether you find them credible. Personally, I do find much of what they have to say consistent with known facts about these therapies that have been demonstrated on videos and that have come out in court cases. However, that does not mean that I am responsible for or have personal knowledge of every single detail in those blogs. For instance one parent claimed that she spent a total of $20,000 with a particular therapist. Although I can say that I find this entirely possible and credible that this amount could have been spent over a period of one time, I cannot say that I have any personal knowledge of this and it certainly is not a claim I ought to be held responsible for and I certainly had no control over its posting. However, my attackers do hold me responsible for it and feel they are getting their revenge by spreading intentional, malicious lies about me all over cyberspace (for example, that I was fired from a university, which I was not and the most outrageous lie that I have been arrested, which I most certainly have not and a background check will reveal that I have no criminal record whatsoever).
There are a number of prominent people in the mental health profession on this advisory board of ACT. However, my name came to the attention of the therapists in question because I co-authored some scholarly articles that were published in professional journals, which criticized such therapies. Namely:
Pignotti, M. & Mercer, J. (2007). Holding therapy and Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy are not supported and acceptable practices: A systematic research synthesis revisited, Research on Social Work Practice, 17, 513-519.
Mercer, J. & Pignotti, M. (2007). Shortcuts cause errors in systematic research synthesis: Rethinking evaluation of mental health interventions. The Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice, 5, 59-77.
and the latest:
Mercer, J., Pennington, R.S., Pignotti, M., & Rosa, L. (2010). Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy is not "evidence-based": Comments in response to Becker-Weidman and Hughes. Child and Family Social Work, 15, 1-5.
Once my name became known, what apparently happened was that they Googled my name and found me to be a very easy target for their smear campaign, due to my associations in the distant past which were never a secret, but which they could dwell on and blow all out of proportion, making it appear as if they were recent or current, rather than distant. Who among us who came of age during the 1960s or 1970s, would like to have what they were doing around that time constantly repeated and spread all over the internet as if it represents the entire identity of the individual? Think about it. How would you like to have all of your youthful mistakes capitalized on and endlessly repeated all over cyberspace? That is just one part of what is happening to me.
Click here to read Part II