Tuesday, October 16, 2012

My only session (so far)

I feel like writing down a few snippets from the introductory session with the therapist I'm not going to see any more, not only because she just got a desk opposite mine at work. The therapist is young, ambitious, optimistic. She was happy about the blogging and the support we give each other, but said something kind of silly:


T: You can also see on those blogs that people with similar backgrounds to yours become all sorts of successful professionals and that's a positive example.

PA: (thinking WTF?!) Many of us indeed are quite successful outwardly, some only too successful, but...

T: So people can overcome bad childhoods!

Another annoying snippet:

T: What you need to do is accept yourself unconditionally.

PA: Sounds good, but how does one who was never accepted unconditionally for the first couple of decades of her life learn to accept herself unconditionally?

T: Don't give me that excuse!

PA: It's not an excuse. (Thinking later: A sentence beginning with "how" is, at least officially, a question. It may be a rhetorical question, but it is not automatically an excuse.) It's my reality. I don't know what you mean by your words. Imagine being born in Plato's cave, and being told you just need to go live in the sun. You don't even know what the sun is. You don't know which way to go.

T: But you can't use this as an excuse not to be moving out.

PA: I'm moving out. I've been slowly moving out for a couple of years now. But it's not going to just happen if you say it should.

(Thinking much later of the perfect analogy: You tell me you can see I'm hungry so I should just go to the restaurant across the street. I tell you I was raised in this room in absolute darkness and have never ventured out. You tell me that's an excuse - all I need to do is get out, go down the stairs, cross the street and enter the restaurant. I tell you I've heard these words before, but I don't know how to recognize "stairs," "street" and "restaurant," I might fall down the stairs, or a car might hit me, or I might get lost. So you have to show me, not tell me I need to get there or even how to get there. Telling me I just need to accept myself is cute, but won't produce any results.)

REBT is really not for me. The main technique seems to be constantly challenging the client's views, feelings, and perceptions. ACoNs DON'T need more of that, even if our constructs need changing. I noticed myself acting in a narcissistically defensive way and/or resorting to JADE a lot during the session - behaviors I thought were somewhat behind me.

Incredibly, I found a great therapist with a lot of training and experience online. He even has a blog, in which he reveals himself as empathetic, intuitive, extremely flexible, only too ready to admit he'd been thinking too rigidly about something before, but a client or a trainee challenges that and he accepts this... and also, he recommends Alice Miller's books. I wrote to him and he accepted me as a client, even with the condition that I can only afford one session per month.

I was so happy with the exchange, especially because I'd written to 4-5 other therapists and they all replied in manners which had red flags all over them ("What do you mean if I've worked with children or the personality disordered? I don't know, my clients don't have the expertise to diagnose their parents." "I'd ask you what it means to you that your parent is disordered, how you have accepted and interpreted and constructed that in your life" etc.)

Just the fact that there is a therapist in my country who's very much into Alice Miller and seems extremely open to understanding and validating and helping me truly experience my insights has had a huge positive effect. I've felt more in the last few days. I've relived some moments from my childhood, actually feeling them this time around. I felt betrayal, anger, and sadness. I have a pretty good feeling about this - I hope I've developed enough intuition and gut feeling by now. 



20 comments:

  1. Good Morning! What is JADE?

    That first therapist would not work for me at all. It's kind of shocking that she would be drawn to the sort of therapy that attacks and invalidates?!She reminds me of my nm and her 'tough love' approach to nurturing. It's an excuse to be abusive. From what you said in this post, seems to me that your intuition and gut are fantastic! Good luck and happy healing with that new therapist...sounds hopeful. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Trisha!

      Here's a GREAT explanation of JADE (justify, argue, defend, explain): http://aconsociety.blogspot.com/2012/10/a-gift-from-friend-jade.html


      Delete
  2. Good grief. This is not the therapist for you. I'm hard pressed to see her as a therapist for anyone. I mean, seriously? "You need to accept yourself unconditionally?" Did she read that in a fortune cookie insert?

    I hope this experience doesn't totally turn you off from therapy because the ones who don't spout platitudes and are really well-trained can be life savers. Like I said in the comments a few posts ago, follow your gut. Don't feel bad that this woman didn't work out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahaha... Fortune cookie!!! You made my day.

      Oh, no, I found a nice Alice Miller fan that I'm def trying out when I recover financially and emotionally from this lovely event.

      Delete
  3. This is the reason I have never had therapy in my life. I can't (couldn't) imagine going, telling part of the story, being berated or not validated, feeling like crap, going on to the next... My shell is much too soft for that sort of think I guess.

    I find your bravery and determination SO admirable. I hope this new therapist is the Cat's Pajamas and exactly (or darn close to) what you need.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Gladys! I felt exactly the same way until recently. Now, instead of feeling crushed, I can just tell her (in my head, of course) "You don't know what you're talking about. Next!"

      It is people writing these blogs and comments that helped me finally feel like validation is possible.

      Delete
  4. In all of my experiences with therapists, I have had one, ONE that was good. She was awesome, actually, but it sucks having to go through three or five or twenty before you find a good one.

    Of course, the rub is that if you do find a good one, it's so worth it. Maybe your criteria for a therapist could be that she reminds you of Upsi. I'd like a therapist like Upsi.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've just imagined my therapist a bit like mulderfan. "And the therapist's diagnosis was... 'Fuck'em!!!' :D

      Delete
  5. You are more polite than I am. When one of my counselors said something like that to me, I asked, "What the hell are you talking about?" I am glad you found someone that fits your needs. Makes all the difference.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Too polite. A problem. Thanks, I hope he'll be right for me.

      Delete
  6. Ooh, I'm not surprised you had such an unpleasant reaction to that first therapist. The bit about people overcoming difficult childhoods to become successful professionals is especially repellent to me - professional success is not much of a barometer of mental/emotional health. Besides, hasn't she heard of "snakes in suits"? :p

    In my experience, I've gotten on much better with older therapists who have been around the block a few times and are long past the idea that all parents deep down really love their children. (I heard this from the last T I tried - aargh. That one only lasted 2 sessions)

    Best of luck with your new therapist.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh my, all parents love their children?! Have they heard of psychopaths, sociopaths, malignant narcissists, ummm... psychologically disturbed people! Awful!

      I agree, only a very young, inexperienced, overly optimistic person could believe that, by virtue of being professionally successful, people just overcome difficult childhoods and are just fine and dandy.

      Delete
  7. I'm glad you ditched the first therapist. It seems she's more interested in spitting out text book wisdom (I like the fortune cookie analogy above) than giving you actual tools.

    I'm crossing my fingers the new guy is better! Best of luck.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yeah, REBT is considered a type of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), so yeah, it definitely doesn't sound like what you are looking for. Hope the new one you've found works better for you, and it sounds to me like he will.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Can I ask an indiscreet question? Which one do you, as a professional, prefer and why? All the psychologists I know IRL are all over CBT and REBT and occasionally TA, but I just don't get why. I mean, sure, if you have a bit of a procrastination problem or a temporary anxiety/depression issue, something that needs a practical and quick fix, but for deep-seated stuff? I just don't get it.

      Delete
    2. Well, I don't work in therapy, but I still went through courses on the major theories. I think CBT is great for certain things, and not for others. Like if you're not looking for a behavior change, but for insight and processing events in your life, it's not really useful.

      So, generally theories are divided into three main groups: Psychoanalytic (or psychodynamic), CBT, and humanistic/existential.

      I personally liked and think theories that focus on the subjective experience of the client are best suited for this kind of stuff, but I'm no expert. Alfred Adler, who split from Freud, was among the first to push in that direction. So Adlerian theory or humanistic and/or existential approaches I think provide a great framework while also allowing a therapist to pick techniques from other theories as long as they think it will benefit the client. Some prominent theorists in humanistic and existential therapy are Carl Rogers and Rollo May.

      Now, psychoanalytic kind of gets a bad wrap from some of Freud's weird stuff like Oedipus complex, but for example, Alice Miller began her work and grew out of the psychoanalytic school of thought. Almost all such theories believe important aspects of personality are formed in our early years. Some theorists I remember liking were Erik Erikson, Margaret Mahler, and Donald Winnicott.

      I would say if this guy is familiar with Alice Miller's work, he probably doesn't frame his personal approach to therapy solely around CBT, if at all. Feel free to ask what theories or theorists have influenced him, and look them up. I personally think somebody with a little psychoanalytic and/or humanistic/existential underpinnings would be good. Hope that helps some!

      Delete
    3. Thank you so much!

      This guy, according to his site and blog, is primarily in the humanistic/existential camp, and now I understand a bit better why I feel so comfy about his whole approach to therapy and life.

      Delete
  9. You were right to leave the first therapist, I agree with Jessie. This is exactly the kind of platitudinous stuff new-agers say. I'm not a big fan of cognitive behavioral therapy. I really do think that the abuse from NP runs much deeper and we need time, and unconscious work, to really start dislodging it at the level of our feelings. It's not about an "attitude" adjustment. And yes! to any therapist who is a fan of Alice Miller.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, thank you. I can't believe I found a therapist I can tell without shame that I've been reading Alice Miller :)

      Delete

I encourage comments!!!