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Another blog post by the same author


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(referring to the author of an article mentioned in "an article about anger in therapy (toward the therapist)")

A Letter from a Psychotherapy Veteran & My Reply

Unfortunately the letter she is referring to is no longer there, the domain name is for sale. She does quote passages from it and reply to them, so it's possible to get a feel for the original letter even though it would have been better to have read it, it does suffer from being one-sided. It is obviously from someone who has been in multiple therapies (as have I), but who was disappointed by her therapists. She explains quite a lot about her therapist's rationale.

Just throwing it out there, I found it interesting. Any comments?

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I just read it again. It brought up quite a few feelings in me, as it the first time, .too. At times I agreed with her, at times I thought 'oh, so that is what they were doing' and at times I felt protest at what she said. Therapy is some intense stuff.

Just musing. It made me think.

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For a therapist to truly "act naturally" would offer the client "more of the same."

Kathy, the person who wrote this, is stating this as a fact. People react differently, and if a person was emotionally neglected and the therapist's way to "act naturally" was to be emotionally present, this would not offer the client "more of the same." I am sure that sometimes this does happen at times, and there are quite a few permutations of therapist behavior that could be happening that could be helpful to their client. I think it is highly individualized, and not a one-size fits all.

Good therapists "act weird" and the disclaimer at the start tells clients what to expect. We'll interrupt her in mid-sentence. We'll ask her to repeat what she just said several times. We won't hand her a tissue or we'll cry along with her. We might find her joke funny, but not laugh. We aren't being disingenuous by not laughing. Our impossible profession expects us to understand that her charm and wit, while entertaining to us at a cocktail party, may be interfering with her establishing deeper friendship ties. It might be stopping her from feeling vulnerable with us right now, and we don't find that limitation funny.

Maybe it is just me, but I have issues when people state what good therapists do (act weird?) as factual. Interrupting me in mid-sentence could be helpful, harmful, and any array of the spectrum. Interestingly, a few months ago I was talking about a person at work and what she was doing and I was laughing at it and my therapist didn't laugh. I actually think that response is hilarious. Clearly, I use humor as a defense. I just sat there for a moment thinking of what the meaning was behind his silence:) I heard crickets chirping:) This lady, Kathy, seems to be a bit on the defensive "We don't find that limitation funny." Notice the pronoun, "we", which she uses to refer to include herself as a "Good Therapist". Self esteem is great, but this post feels like there is more going on than meets the eye.

Therapists of the interpersonal school can point out to Ms. Burton that we, as people, are no different from subatomic particles: We change as others interact with us. It DOES matter how therapists feel and it DOES matter how clients feel. Together, we try to do what has been called "The Impossible Profession." Impossible, perhaps, because we try to model a different way of being with our clients--an "abnormal" or "non-socially acceptable" way-- and we warn her up front that that's what we'll be doing.

I am bothered a bit by anyone calling therapy "The Impossible Profession." She purports that the meaning may be because "they" try to model a different way of being with their clients, but covers herself by noting that she has warned the client of what will be going on in therapy. I don't understand why that would make it the impossible profession? What about the client's point of view? Should we say that therapy is the "Impossible Healing Relationship?" I wouldn't say that, because although some therapeutic relationships end badly, not all do. I wouldn't say this because it would be offensive to therapists.

It is being "genuine" to tell her that if she gets angry at us for not appearing "sympathetic" or "engaged" she should do the "socially unacceptable" thing and tell us. We tell her that it is likely that the more skilled we are, the more profoundly we are likely to disappoint her. In other words, we have to somehow tell her that as she continues to be herself, and do what she does in the outside world, she will more than likely feel intense reactions to us. She might get angry. She might be hurt. She might want to leave therapy because we are "uncaring." When this happens, and we say this early in the therapy, we ask only one thing from her: be curious about yourself and your reactions to us. We tell her this is a difficult task. It is hard to "watch yourself" have intense feelings. It is hard not to blame someone else who appears to be "causing them." We say this up front, and we remind her of it again, when these feelings arise.

I trust my therapist, and this enables me to tell him how I feel about what is going on in therapy. That being said, of course, I still have areas in need of work. I don't see telling him how I feel as socially unacceptable, maybe it was when I was a child, but not now. I don't like the way she tells the client to do the socially unacceptable thing? Why not just say, I am interested in your feelings and reactions to the therapy and to me. There may be times when you will feel angry or upset, etc., with me, and I want you to feel safe enough to express those feelings.

And seriously, the more skilled a therapist is, the more profoundly they are going to disappoint the client? I suspect she is talking about transference? Sometimes, the less skilled a therapist is, the patient can be majorly disappointed also. It sounds like she's covertly tooting her own horn:) It is a silent horn I guess, haha. It is difficult not to blame the therapist as it may appear that they are causing our pain. However, at that point, I would be sharing my anger/disappointment with my therapist. Maybe I am aware intellectually it is transference but not viscerally. This would be the perfect time to express anger that I never could express before and have it accepted and validated. I would hope that at that point I wouldn't be reminded AGAIN that she is not to blame. Oh, and I love her statement that it is good to check in with the client from time to time. Thanks, I appreciate that!

She even prophesized how something would happen with the client using illness as an avoidance technique and that the relationship with her husband would end up being like both of their previous marriages, much to her husband's doubt. Well, she turned out to be right! Maybe she is Nostradamus incarnate?

I could go on. . .and on, and on. . .:) I feel like this therapist, Kathy, thinks that her way of therapy is the right way and is trying desperately to justify and explain the reasoning in this post. I find her views distasteful, at times disrespectful, and bordering on narcissistic. I fully admit that some of my issues enter my strong response to this post, but I am aware of this and I think my points hold validity, although I am willing to see otherwise:)

Thanks for the post!

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I admire that.

It was provocative in places, wasn't it, could be why I found it intriguing. She was defensive.- had obviously felt attacked by this letter. Wish we could have read the letter. There were places I agreed with her as well though, things past therapists have done with me that were explained. I use humour as a defence, too.

I was interested to hear others' reactions, so thanks. :)

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Thank you Luna! I admire that you posted the article:) I am glad it was a help to you! I also wish we could have read the letter, that would have been interesting:) Maybe I might have had a slightly different perspective, lol, but judging on my reaction it isn't likely:) I appreciate this place because in real life, I am known at my work as "the silent one," LOL. I like being able to say what I think, even when I am over-the-top on things only later to temper my response, (in a respectful way:) Take care!

Just out of curiosity, how did you get your name? Is it related to the moon or Luna Lovegood (from Harry Potter)? Only answer if you want:)

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I'm glad you feel you can say what you think - I feel the same way.

Luna- yes, the moon. :) My sun and rising signs are Cancer, governed by the moon. The moon is also what shines in the night/darkness/depression - moonlight. And the word Lunatic comes from moon madness and I have a mental illness (bipolar). So there are several reasons. :) The hyphen at the end is just because the name Luna is always taken everywhere already, here too.

I hadn't thought of Luna Lovegood, no.

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