So I finally went back to therapy only to end up in a fight. No one screamed or raised their voice, but it was a fight I’d say. I’m not sure if I’m going back.

It all started with my irritability. Which quality the T pointed out. I wasn’t feeling great (um, hence the need for some therapy) and haven’t been sleeping properly (a common symptom of PTSD, hence the need for…). I was describing some interactions with my family over Christmas, and talking about them made me irritable, and I was trying to explain the kind of strange family dynamics we have. She made some comments that, she later said, were supposed to be supportive.

But if I don’t find a comment supportive, just irritating, what do I do? Take care of the T, and pretend it’s fine? Or make a snappish comment in response?

Well, of course I took the second option. Several times.

Then I started complaining of my symptoms (OK, what else is therapy for, if not license to complain?). Which irritated her (which I didn’t point out), and she said, well you don’t wish to deal with the flashbacks. No, not at the moment, I said, as I’m still weak from the flu, and can’t handle any more stress. For the sleep problems, she said, well, you don’t want to take sleeping pills, so what can I do? I didn’t remember refusing to take sleeping pills. But there are disadvantages to those, and as she isn’t a doctor, I was hoping for some other kind of suggestion from her.

We just didn’t have a nice client / T afternoon at all.

Oh yes, and the lead in to the session was strange too. We’d both seen parts of the PBS special on the emotions that played last week, and I was disparaging the segment on depression (though I thought the segment on PTSD was not bad). The special was hosted by Daniel Gilbert, who is a prof of I think sociology, and has written a book on happiness, which is fine. But the depression part was a pure hymn to biological psychiatry – depression is caused by wacky brain chemistry which needs all the ingenuity of medical science to fix. I hate that theory. Especially when it’s presented as proven, with no other theories on the causes of depression in play. That’s the story for all depressed folks. Not.

As the T is not a doctor, I’d think she’d have some sympathy with my view that this is a very slanted presentation of depression. Granted I was irritated and didn’t present it calmly, and I haven’t done so here either. But still. If she believes that biological psychiatry is the be-all and end-all of therapy for depression, of what use is her job? That’s not the branch of healing she can practice.

So we disagreed on that. She has this odd veneration for medication. Probably because she’s never tried any?

Now the T did point out something that I believe is true. She said I’ve got mother issues (um, yeah, that’s true) and that I’m transferring some of those feelings onto her. She says my mother was not able or unwilling to help me as a child, and now I’m projecting those feelings onto her, as another woman who is unable to help me.

Which could be true. And I respect her for saying that, as that is her job.

She got very defensive when I said I found some of her comments condescending, and that I didn’t think she really understood my situation. I’m concerned at the defensiveness actually – should a professional be down in the dirt like that and fighting as if with friend or family? She said she hadn’t said some things that I know she did, and denied something or other. I didn’t really care at that point….I actually wasn’t as defensive as she was. My impression is she has self-esteem issues.

So here I am. I know I was right not to dive into memories in that session, as I’m not feeling strong enough and am afraid of a relapse. Why should she guilt me about that?

On the other hand, irritability is a huge problem for me. I start to feel someone is being stupid, then I make some sarcastic comment, then dismiss them and shut down. Bad pattern. And if she is triggering this pattern, it’s a chance to work at changing it.

I’ve lost some jobs also due to these people problems. They just seem to erupt out of the blue, and I make enemies.

We left it that I would not come back until I feel physically healthy again. And I’d call her, not her call me. So it’s up to me.

Are we a bad fit? I do keep wondering if she really grasps what the heck is going on. Maybe she just is not able to be as articulate as I’d like, but in general, does know what she’s doing? If she’s competent, then it’s my irritability and issues that are being projected that are at fault here, and we can work through them. If it’s a bad fit, or she is not competent, then I am wasting time, money and hope here that would be better spent elsewhere.

I do know, that in the three and a half months we’ve worked together, things have not improved for me. But then, my problems are longstanding and PTSD is no walk in the park.

One thing is, I didn’t feel desperately upset after the session. Just kind of not knowing what is best. I do respect that she speaks up, and does not gloss over things or pretend something is what it’s not.

Well, to leave or to return. My decision to ponder over the next while.

Picture: Stained glass in a cathedral in Trier

  1. Perhaps one of the core issues is concerning 'differentiation'; many folks make attribution errors in that they look to their PTSD as the entire source of their relationship problems,when it is not.

  2. Nechtan said:

    Hi Ellen,Different medications work for different people, there is no one for all. I just wonder if this is the same with therapy. I guess when you take the time to ponder over your decision you will find out whether T is right for you as a long term solution.As you said you would not expect to be over your problems in 3 months but personally speaking I would, in this situation, be hoping to have a clear path to which I was working towards or at least some improvement. I get the impression that T holds back on things that you need to know. For any of us seeking to improve our lives we need to see where we are going and know that it is the right way. Only then can we have the belief in what we are doing to stay the course. By now I would have hoped that part had been established after the money you have spent and the pain you have endured at times.I agree with you also that you have to be in the right frame of mind and physical as well as you can be before tackling problematic issues head on. Otherwise I think its only going to cause more stress in your life outside of that room.I hope all is well and your flu symptoms are starting to subside. All the best for this year,Nechtan

  3. diver said:

    That was an interesting therapy tale Ellen. I thought it was great to see you questioning your therapist like that. I wonder if this fight has been coming for awhile? I mean, I've read a few posts from you about your relationship with this therapist and the two of you sure do seem to have been struggling for awhile. From what you've written I've wondered at times what T's qualifications are; wondered what she's up to (therapeutically, speaking), whether she's just been winging it and putting on some sort of domineering 'Me-Doctor-You-Patient' performance to cover the fact she's failing to connect with you.But then there's this post … and you're connecting with each other big time. I dunno.Hey, have you read up on the theory of Transference and Counter-Transference in therapy lately? It's interesting stuff. And your post today sure did resonate to it a little … to this reader's perception anyway. It's supposedly a good sign in therapy, means you're getting somewhere. And possibly should persist with it …'… depression is caused by wacky brain chemistry which needs all the ingenuity of medical science to fix …' I agree, the theory stinks. It just pharmaceutical industry propaganda if you ask me.

  4. I was same with masseus yesterday. He could not get that even healthy things had to be planned for and worked towards

  5. gniz said:

    Again, it just doesn't sound like a good fit. Therapy can be very difficult and "not fun" but this doesn't sound right to me (I stated this in response to an earlier post of yours as well).Also, I really do think the therapist getting defensive is a bad sign and poor professionalism on her part. And it doesn't sound like she ever really caught herself and got hold of the situation, which is bad as well.You can find someone better than this, me thinks.

  6. Ellen said:

    Thanks for the opinions commenters :-)Sorry for the slow response – frazzled times.@Bill – Not sure what this might mean. It never actually occurred to me that PTSD was the source of my relationship problems. Thanks for coming by and commenting.@Nechtan – Yeah, I do feel I'm missing a sense of where we're going with her. And I'm kind of nervous whether she knows what she's doing with EMDR. It is so painful to go through, I need to have confidence that the T knows which way is up. Which I don't have.Flu symptoms are improving thanks 🙂 Still some weakness, but it's getting better!@diver – That's a great take on the situation diver. Transference could be a good sign, and we were connecting at that point. Though she didn't seem to have much control of the situation.Where do I read about transference counter – transference? I know the concepts – do you have some specific text in mind?Thanks for the positive view of the situation!@Anonymous – We sometimes do need to talk back to our health care workers don't we. They don't know everything.@gniz – Yes, I remember your earlier comments gniz. You may be proved right here. The fact that she had no control, or seemed not to have much, is the main thing that worries me. Thanks for the comment.

  7. diver said:

    Hi Ellen, There's a ten minute interview featuring Carl Jung talking about 'Transference and Archetypes' here FYI. The first 8 minutes is about Transference. It's so painfully slow but, contains a few pearls, especially toward the end.Wikipedia has a well referenced intro to the subject, though dry as. The section on 'Transference and Countertransference during Psychotherapy' looks to me as good as it gets.The ultimate reference I suppose would by Carl Jung's major work 'The Psychology of the Transference' which has been extracted from his voluminous work and paperbacked. It has an ISBN: 0415151325.Cheers.

  8. alice said:

    hi elleni have a bit of a foggy head at the moment, read your post but have no words of wisdom, i think the other commentors have more advice then i could muster thing though, use your gut feeling. sometimes when others make you feel uncomfortable there is a reason. my ed clinician made me feel uncomfortable, so much so i didnt want to go back, however i did keep going and we got over the bump and carried on. but i think there is a difference between uncomfortable and uneasy. you choose, you know deep down whats best for you. good

  9. Susan said:

    Oh, Ellen; I wish that I could wrap you up a gift of healing, send it to you in the post and know that you would be alright the next day. But – as we know it is not possible to do that. We all have our own journey to be on. The nice thing is – that we no longer have to go it alone:) Technology is a wonderful thing!And your story sounds a bit familiar; I have also had relationship issues both in and out of therapy. You say "what else is therapy for….". So I wonder what symptoms or issues you and your therapist have identified to work on and if you have a plan? I agree and have used therapy as a time to vent frustrations about what others are doing – but it was gently pointed out to me that as long as I am focussed on what others are doing and saying, I am not focussed on doing my own work. And true enough – when I was able to focus on me and how I was feeling instead of on what others were doing or saying (or not doing or not saying) – that is when I started finding my way out of that dark place and doing some of that grief work that leads to a better place.Not sure if this really applies here or if it is helpful but I thought I would mention it.Take care and be kind to yourself today:)

  10. Ellen said:

    @Diver – Thanks, I'll be looking at those, except the collected works, maybe not those at the moment :-). Wow, an actual clip of Jung himself talking!@Alice – Thanks for the tip. I'll do that – go with the gut as well as the stupid head!@Susan – Knowing that others care and have been through similar is healing in itself. Thank you!There really isn't a plan or anything formal like identified issues. That's one thing that bothers me. And I actually don't have any people to vent about – i'm not working, single, my child has left home. More of an issue of finding people to be in my life really. No, I was moaning on about not being able to sleep properly I think.Thx for stopping by and I'm sending good wishes to you too!

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