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Something my therapist said - is this a bit out of line?

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Lately my psychologist has been really not helpful. Massive silences during our appointments when I've made it clear it's hard for me to focus on what to talk about (just too much has happened lately and my head is everywhere). No advice from her. No planning for difficult times. Just expecting me to figure out how to cope through the worst times myself without any suggestions of how to get through those times from her. And then if I do, she's happy but never discussing with what it is I've done that led to me coping (well getting through that traumatic time) so that I can repeat the process again, not just when things are really traumatic and survival technique kicks in. I'd like to understand what it is I'm doing so I can do it in my day-to-day life as well and improve the overall quality of my life.

She used to do this sort of thing all the time, but months ago we had an incident and she refused to work it out with me, I just had to pretend like there was no problem and keep seeing her. And I'm near positive she hasn't forgive me (for making my first real mistake) and it pisses me off because I can only pretend things are fine for so long. Without discussing it, I can't resolve, but she won't discuss, because she's have to give a bit of herself, and she's super strict about me knowing ANYTHING about her. And as a result, my GP and his father (also my GP) are who got me through Christmas, my birthday and my cat dying (and dealing with not having my Pop during those times). Eg. Craig (my GP) said to me the day before Christmas (when I wasn't getting along with anyone and didn't want to go) that I really did have to go for my Nan and that I knew I wanted to go, or I wouldn't be upset. But he said, don't think about all else that's going on tonight or tomorrow. Just go there accepting that it probably won't be a very great experience and you'll probably get picked on, but be prepared for that and be ready for how you respond to that. How much you'll put up with before you leave. And don't leave rudely, just kindly say goodbye to your Nan and politely say goodbye and leave, because I don't have to sit there and endure abuse. But just forget about all the other problems for those 2 days. And be open to the idea that it could go okay. But I did exactly what he said, it took the pressure and didn't become a self-fullfilling prophecy. And I said I hated them and he said he knows it's all screwed up, but I do love them or I wouldn't be hurting. And he was right. But that should have been her job, not his.

Anyway, so during my appointment on Monday I took with me things I'd written out that were bothering me. How they felt to me and it "seemed" she was behaving (especially in that her words were contradicting her actions), while acknowledging she may not be what I was thinking, but that's how it felt to me. Like she'd given up, and things like that.

I believe she then said something about she needed the holiday (specifically away from me - thus why she didn't call me back before she left) because it had all become too overwhelming. If that was what she was saying, I felt like saying, "get fucked ... too overwhelming for you, so you can shut off that you care. Lucky you, I'm sorry, but it happens to be my life and I don't get a 'give me a break' card". I'm NOT saying she doesn't deserve to have a break, but she needn't verbalise that to me. How could you think that would go down well. And even if she meant a break from everyone it was still not going to go down well when I know she sees me most.

But then in trying to recall an incident that occurred in our final appointment before Christmas to her (that I've said to numerous other people now and they all understand what I'm saying), she couldn't understand and by the 3rd try she was still saying, "sorry I'm confused I don't know what it is your saying" and then said, "I'm sure this happens to you all the time". I replied with, "actually no", but when I got home, because at that point she was sick of me telling her how to talk to me (so she thought, but I was only pointing how certain things were making me feel - like ending appointments early if I ran out of things to say or when head was mish-mash she wouldn't ask things, she'd end the appointment) I phoned and said: "You know you said to me that you were confused and couldn't understand and were sure that happened to me a lot" - what was that to gain, other than judging or insulting me. If you believed that, wouldn't saying something, do you find this happens a lot? And THEN if I said yes, following up with, maybe we can work on that; maybe that could've been a less judgement and more productive approach to how you were feeling." Am I out of line in thinking that?

I later called whoever was on intake and said what was said to me and said, if I replied with, "actually no, but I'm sure it happens a lot that you don't understand people" I'd have been kicked out of the room for being rude and judgemental and completely out of line. But really that's an equal opposite remark to what was said to me. And I said, so you guys can abuse us, but you can't handle the same being dished back.

And when there's obviously not clear air between you and your therapist, is it your own problem to fix that yourself, or is it normal that you fix it together. Because it's the 2 people that's created it and she will never help - it's like she thinks she's infallible and till of late, she's been a great therapist but none of us are infallible.

I don't know what to do. I emailed my GP and he said if he got the time he'd try and talk to her. But I haven't seen him since before Christmas and haven't shared the most of these things with him yet - but he knows I'm ready to walk away (and not 'cause I have Borderline, it's a "ready to run" feeling at all).

I also know how super bloody sensitive I am and last time she and I had problems I had to get my glasses relensed because my vision reduced (and I have astigmatism, so it's not even supposed to happen - no-one even knows why a car accident sparked it to cause me to need glasses to begin with) and then a day after seeing her I couldn't see anything of normal size. I couldn't see what I wrote, read anything on my phone and I need my glasses relensed again - which has perplexed my optometrist 'cause it shouldn't be possible. I asked my doctor if it could be depression and stress (meds haven't changed so that makes no sense) and fear, etc, etc. But for what the eye problem, he doesn't think it should be causing permanent issues - so then I think, is my fear of losing her, or what she used to be, so scary to me that's impacting really badly physically.

I'm annoyed that without making me feel no longer welcome and be pretty unkind to me, I'm not welcome to go to an appointment and share the problems I'm having regarding therapy, while admitting I know they may all be my fault, but isn't therapy to help with that. That shouldn't make someone wanna give up on me or think I'm not nice anymore - or at least I don't think it should.

** sorry for any typing mistakes, as I noted, I can't see very well and I'm relying on my touch typing which means I miss some words or mix things up. sorry.

Edited by seaj
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I'm sorry that things have been challenging recently between you and your therapist.

One beautiful thing about therapy is that it's a relationship and, just like with any other relationship, there may be times of difficulty and misunderstanding. This is a great opportunity for you to work with your therapist on what has been happening between the two of you. I would try and look closely at your feelings and behaviors within all of this and try and see what it's telling you. Have you experienced these feelings before outside of the room?

As for your question about whether you should be doing this alone or with her, I would most definitely say you should work through this together. Having things out in the open and working within the relationship to find understanding can be a very valuable experience and may even help to strengthen the bond. It also may provide you with a great chance to learn more about yourself and how you relate to others. I hope that she is receptive to this.

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Have you experienced these feelings before outside of the room?

As for your question about whether you should be doing this alone or with her, I would most definitely say you should work through this together. Having things out in the open and working within the relationship to find understanding can be a very valuable experience and may even help to strengthen the bond. It also may provide you with a great chance to learn more about yourself and how you relate to others. I hope that she is receptive to this.

Hey IrmaJean thanks for replying. I see her tomorrow I really want some confidence and some knowledge on my side going in there. Mind you, she's been different since I told her about this place, like she's supposed to be my primary of support, not anyone else. Or she's supposed be the one who helps - or whatever she's thinking, but her actions since I mentioned here have been even more withdrawn.

It doesn't with people outside the room because I would stay around people who if I have an issue with, think I have to fix and they can do no wrong. They'd be very quickly out of my life.

I even wrote her a list to take tomorrow, and it's rather substantial, and all of professional people (doesn't include a single friend) who I come in contact who talk with me, not at me or just listen. It's combined and it functions much better. She used to talk with me, she doesn't anymore.

And you've said to work through it together, but how can I get her to realise that's what has to happen? She refuses to talk WITH me. She'll listen, randomly say things, but won't converse with me. She said maybe I've come as far as I can with her, but less than a month ago when I was worried I would get to see my therapy out with her, she said she wasn't going anywhere for a long time, wasn't going anywhere and she'd be with me for a long time. And for a 2 1/2 of our 3 years, she always conversed with me. Which involved sharing a teeny bit of herself. Now she is a formidable rock that won't share a single bit of information that would allow two people to work together. And I think her saying maybe I couldn't go further had more to do with her not wanting to. I asked her to tell me straight up if she didn't want to work with me anymore, but she ignored me when I asked. So of course I assume the answer is no she doesn't.

It feels like she doesn't want to be the one who tells me go, so she's making it impossible to stay and in knowing I have Borderline pushing me to run. Except I've told her I have "running" in check. I regularly wanna run from people and I don't do so because I know it's not real and doesn't last.

How do you get your therapist to work together with you when they think you asking that is you telling them how to do their job???

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Seaj, this is your therapy and you want to get the most out of it that you can. If you have questions about her behavior, rather than speculating and creating different scenarios in your mind about it, maybe ask her what has been happening? Explain that you feel part of the work in therapy is working within relationships and that you feel something is "off" between the two of you lately. That you would like to work with her on this because you feel it will be beneficial to your therapy. I would just try being open and honest about your feelings. Hopefully getting things out in the open and discussing them will help to clear up any misunderstandings. Good luck.

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Thanks IrmaJean, I'd concluded when I got there tomorrow and she just stared at me when I didn't start talking, I'd wait a moment and ask her if she feels things are running smoothly.

Nobody could answer yes to that, so hopefully that will open a door for discussion.

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Sounds to me like you’re handling it quite well. If it was me I think I would have got up and walked out. She shouldn’t have any problem with you discussing things on here - if that’s what you meant. I don’t think you should give her the board addy though because it might make you self-conscious about posting. This should be your own place to work things out with a few other members that you trust. Personally, even though you are struggling with this, I think you’re dealing quite well. Therapy can be very complex, and everyone has their good days and their bad days. As strange as it sounds the most constructive work seem to get done when there is some conflict going on, means stuff is coming out. All we have to do is focus a little more and pay attention to what is being said then use what we can and let go of what we can’t. Try using positive affirmations to stop things playing on your mind. And use a pad and a pen to write down any questions you might have for next time.

Stay strong and stay above the battles.

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Good morning Seaj,

Sometimes the most frustrating thing is to be in therapy and feel poorly aligned with your therapist. This isn't about technique, but about the most basic aspects of treatment-- understanding, involvement, authenticity, mindfulness and being known at our deepest levels. I think Irmajean has, as usual, given you excellent wisdom (she should be a therapist, this is likely her other calling).

I see clients all day and most of them have a severe and persistent mental illness-- very few come into our practice with mild or moderate concerns, and this can be exhausting and numbing at times, especially given the severity of the issues.

In 1923, Martin Buber, a renowned Jewish theologian, wrote the book I and Thou. In it he focuses on 2 types of relationships: I-it and I-Thou. According to Buber, frequently we view both objects and people by their functions. Doing this is sometimes a positive, for example when an MD gives you and exam, herein it is best that he see you as an organism and not always as a real person (although good bedside manner is important). Likewise, a scientist observes, measures, examines and studies-- these are I-It processes.

However, too often, and even in therapy when one is exhausted, we can view those in our presence as I-It relations, thereby not truly making ourselves completely available to them, understanding them, sharing completely with them, or really listening with the 3rd ear. We may instead observe them or keep part of ourselves outside the moment of the relationship. Buber calls such an interaction I-It.

In therapy, we are called upon b/c of the nature of the relationship, to place ourselves completely into a relationship, to truly understand and "be there" with another person, without masks, pretenses, even sometimes without words. Such a moment of relating is called "I-Thou." The bond thus created enlarges each person, and in therapy such a bond is designed to enhance the client-- and this requires true dialogue.

Such I-Thou relationships are not constant or static, and in therapy I can move between I-It moments and I-Thou moments. However, there are times I will consciously pull away in order to change the dynamic and even compel the client to step forward or become more self reliant, self regulating and self responsible (this is how I generally respond on this forum, which is why I sound so directive and prescriptive as opposed to more compassionate and sensitive). The client feels my pulling away as an unnatural part of relating (especially if there was a strong feeling of closeness and a bond had been created) and will call me on it and we then discuss it openly and honestly. But in doing so, the client realizes after the fact, that the behavior is purposeful and designed to activate them to assume a more self empowering, independent, strengths based role in their life, which is a primary goal for those I work with (I think this may be a part of what Bluerose is touching on-- the idea that conflict often spells work being done, even if it doesn't feel that way at the time) .

I'm not sure this is what your therapist is doing (and it doesn't feel that way from your description), but you're on the right track to confront the issue as Irmajean suggests. If this is not the logic behind the misalignment between both of you, then typically you're dealing with a possible lack of seasoning on the part of the therapist.

I realize I didn't touch on all aspects of your concern, but I did want to focus on this one piece. Good luck and I hope this rather wordy response was helpful,


Edited by David O
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Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.

Btw David, that makes sense; but not if I have asked repeatedly to the point therapy is failing and I'm on the verge of leaving, that one wouldn't tell me that's what's going on.

Thank you all. A few hours to my appointment, so I'll know for sure, soon enough.

~ Again, I really am sorry for all the words I've missed and/or written incorrectly making things confusing like saying can where I mean can't. I'll be very happy when I get my glasses back.

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