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I have been engaged in therapy for almost 10 months. I have had huge trust issues and take a great deal of time building relationships. Understanding these issues I have established trust with my therapist. However I am still unable to freely talk (even when provided time and encouragement). I don't understand why this is happening.

Before each session I have things which I have identified to discuss, especially those which have triggered anxiety, flashbacks or issues which have come out of the last session two weeks earlier. I often write things on paper and take the paper with me only to find that I am unable to open the paper during the session (It's like I just freeze). Can anyone give me some idea as to why this might be happening. Does it mean that I still have not developed enough trust?

Thank you

Edited by 1confused12
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Guest ASchwartz

Hi 1confused12,

If I were to make an educated guess, I would say that you are struggling with a lot of anxiety in the session with the therapist. The source of the anxiety is unclear except that you are probably right that it's a trust issue.

I always found that when clients brought papers or lists into the session, they were attempting to hide their real feelings.

I don't know how you feel about it but here is my suggestion:

1. Refrain from bringing lists into the session.

2. Do not plan what you will discuss unless there is something very pressing.

3. At the very same time as #2, talk to your therapist about your anxiety in the session. In other words, focus on the here and now when you are together.

Anyway, these are just suggestions.

It seems to me that your are doing well with this therapist and you are being helped. That is excellent. Now, the issue is beginning to center around the relationship you have with each other, you know, what we call Transference.

Please tell me what you thinks about this and what are the opinions of others??

Allan

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Thank you Allan,

You are right in that I do go to extremes to hide my feelings in everyday life but not so in therapy (often I do think I feel during therapy, does that even make sense?). The writing (list) is more about reactions and feelings I don't understand which come up between therapy (these do tended to be the bigger reactions). There are so many so I have tried to write a few down so I can try and understand myself better (also looking at my thinking). Also at the begining of each session there is always the question from the therapist 'what would you like to talk about today?'. For me there is so much that even thinking about it creates anxiety as I try and catch one thing from daily life which I am currently struggling with. (I often become so overwhelmed I remain silent. Its not like I have nothing to say it more like there is just to much).

Last session the word 'Transference' did come up right near the end of the session. I have a limited understanding of this and have been doing some reading to educate myself this week. In the context of last session 'transference' I struggle to understand how I could think that my therapist is other than himself. Or can I have subconcious thoughts about him representing other from my past?. Are you able to direct me to information which explains in simple terms what may be happening please?

Sorry for the long response, thank you for taking the time to read and respond.

1Confused12

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1confused12,

Thanks so much for sharing your therapy experiences with us. I want to write more about my own therapy, but I feel inhibited sometimes. Your post has encouraged me to be more open about questions I have, even when I feel like I won't understand or don't want to hear the answer.

I've been in therapy about the same amount of time as you (just over 8 months for me), but I began going weekly to the sessions just after I started, and I moved to twice weekly about 3 months ago. I have found that going to sessions more often has really reduced my anxiety in feeling like I have to make each of those 45 minutes count for so much... Would it be an option for you to see your therapist weekly? (I understand there are often insurance problems or other costs associated with this, so it might not be possible for many people.)

Allan, it is so great to hear from a therapist's perspective about some of the things I've regularly been doing: writing notes, lists, or letters and bringing them into sessions; planning what I'm going to talk about, even down to the exact words I will say, etc. I'm not sure that I agree that in my case it is attempting to hide my real feelings. Instead, I tend to view every second of my sessions as precious golden moments that must be completely maximized in order for me to achieve the most possible relief and the greatest possible growth before my next session. So I write down all of my most potent thoughts, feelings, dreams, daydreams, and questions so I won't forget them when I get in session (I'm AD/HD and have a tendency to distract myself and ramble otherwise). I have gotten so anxious and frustrated with myself in the past when I have felt I needed to talk about something at the next session or I would burst, yet I forgot to actually talk about it and got sidetracked by other stuff.

I guess what I'm saying is, I'm open to the idea that I might be unconsciously sabatoging my own process by approaching it this way, but I am so brutally open about my thoughts and feelings in my sessions that I don't think my lists and planned topics are trying to hide; rather, I think it is my way of trying to actually disclose more of what is going on with me, not just in the fleeting minutes of each session. Does that make sense? Would you think I was b.s.ing you if I was your patient and I said that?

Confused, you've asked great questions about transference. In my understanding, transference does not usually involve the patient becoming confused or deluded that the therapist is actually another person; instead, the relationship with the therapist develops the same patterns as the patient's relationships with the other important people in their lives. So, if you see your mom or dad as an authority figure and you often find yourself rebelling against their wishes, the chances are you will eventually see your therapist as an authority figure, in which case you will probably start to unconsciously rebel against the therapist's wishes. It is not that you see the therapist as your mom or dad, but you may feel the same when the therapist says certain words or phrases or uses a certain tone of voice.

It sounds like you and I might be somewhat similar, Confused. Do you feel an enormous amount of pressure to make every moment count while you are in session? If so, that type of pressure can lead to all kinds of stress reactions, including feeling overwhelmed and unable to speak or move.

One day I came into session about 20 minutes late and the rest of the session was completely ruined because I was so upset about being so late and losing all of that valuable time that I could "never get back". Instead of a 20 minute setback, it became a completely lost session, because I just could not let myself move past my lateness. All at once, I felt so jumbled up inside and I wanted to rage and cry and just rip out the part of me that was keeping me hung up on that stupid clock.

Well I've rambled too long here, but you are worth the time, 1confused12. I would really love to hear more about your experiences, since I am a traveler on the same road.

Peace,

Sean

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Thank you so much for sharing your experience Sean.

I totally understand what you have shared. I to feel inhibited when writing or talking but I guess that I need to make some (no a lot) of changes in my life. Starting with asking questions to reduce some of this confusion (especially when it comes to feeling).

I see my therapist fortnightly and I have no options around I don't live in a city and there is no clinical psychologists who live local. So it's not an insurance thing, it's just living in a rural location.

I too find it difficult with the time around sessions, as it does take me a while to settle and reduce anxiety levels. I have even tried to arrive earlier and sit and chill in the waiting room (unsuccessful = anxiety attacks). Because the anxiety brings cluttered thinking I often get lost amongst the thoughts and I become to muddled. And I guess I do feel pressure but pressure from myself not anyone else. I guess though the therapist doesn't have to live with the thoughts and feelings 24/7 like I do so for him there is not need to rush (I could cope with 1 hour a fortnight even). But me, I like, I'm imploding, I need to find some calm and the whole negative thoughts try and take control. (Overwhelmed is my middle name when it comes to feelings) I see it as my job to convey this though. But I am not so good at it yet. However, I am working on it amongst many other things.

Therapy has turned out to be very complex and I am still learning about the whole process. It seems to be that the more I read and read and read the greater understanding I gain which means I also become a little more trusting. And by hearing other peoples experience I do feel less alone in the process. So thank you Sean for sharing.

Cheers,

1confused12

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