Therapy again

Some weeks ago I decided I needed to give therapy another chance. Yes it is costly, but when I found myself missing work on account of my ‘issues’, it did seem it would be a lot cheaper to pay for help, if it helps of course, than to miss more days’ pay. A day’s pay pays for a month of therapy in my case.

This time I found someone on the internet. She is part of a group of therapists that together have a website, each with their individual pages. She has done a program at an Institute for Human Relations, and special training, which turns out to be a course, but oh well, in trauma and dissociation. I emailed three of these therapists, two got back to me, and one, A, had an evening spot available.

She is an older woman, I’d say in her seventies, with white hair and billowy clothes. Her office is small but cozy, with a rug, couch, armchair, and various art supplies, a dollhouse, and stuffed animals. She tells me she used to be a massage therapist.

I’ve been to see her three times so far. I’m feeling rather strung out and emotional after getting through a long work day and commute. So far we’ve talked a bit about work, about my family, and about my symptoms of dissociating with exercise.

She is taking a soothing approach, is the best I can describe it. I’m in the position where I want to talk, but get overwhelmed by my feelings when  I try. So we’ve been keeping it light.

Last time, I tried drawing with crayons while we talked a bit. I kind of enjoyed the process. I love colour, though cannot draw an object to save my life. Still, I think I have a free and easy fast flowing style, as I put various colours next to each other. It helps me to follow my feelings, try and identify them, without being overwhelmed by them.

I don’t think, again same as the last T I tried, that she has much understanding of social anxiety. She listens when I describe things at work, but doesn’t have much to say beyond I should keep trying.

Still, if I can get a handle on feelings so they don’t overwhelm me, that will be a big step for me. And it is quite soothing to be listened to with empathy and a desire to understand. I have come back from a session twice now feeling quite good and functional. Which is a change from therapy which tears me apart at the seams.

A friend of mine has also started therapy and was describing it to me. She feels it is helping her quite a bit. This therapy is called ‘self psychology’, where the therapist is eliciting the client’s story and I think somehow trying to rework that story. Anyway, this friend is having these really intense discussions in her therapy, which she goes to twice a week.

I was wishing I too was having these really enlightening conversations every week, probing the details of my past. This never happens in my therapy, and I don’t think it’s about to. For me, it’s all about feelings. What are they and how not to let them take over, while still feeling them. I think that’s what it’s about anyway.

Since I started therapy, I have not missed any work, so it’s paying for itself in that way at least. And things have gotten somewhat better for me at work in the past week. Though part of that may be due to this one older guy that I don’t get along with being on vacation.

It has become clear that the key at work for me is that I must get along with my ‘nemesis’ P.  And helping me with this endeavour is the fact that P craves socializing and talk, and I sit right next to her. For P., life is about talking it seems. And oddly enough, my insistence on saying hello and goodbye seems to be taken as a friendly gesture. And if I can think of something to start chatting about, P will automatically respond (against her will??). I think she talks when anxious the same way I fall silent when anxious actually.

All my efforts with my other co-worker, the very silent Mr. L., have borne very little fruit. He is so withdrawn, and only talks to P as he feels comfortable only with her. I can put in weeks of effort at making little comments, and still, he thaws only very slightly.

And, another good thing, one of the women in IT has ‘taken me on’ as it were. I was in a kind of ‘no man’s land’ with no-one giving me work. The other two co-workers would always be approached, as they are liked or trusted more. But now she’s given me something to do, which was very easy, but she was very enthusiastic about what I did, and now has pulled me into some meetings about a related matter. So I now have some work, and more people are perhaps getting to know me.

So on Friday, between having these little chats with P, and having some work and enthusiasm directed my way by the IT woman, my life became rather better than it has been these last few weeks. Whether this pleasant state will continue once ‘grouchy old guy’, who is P’s first choice of chatting partner, returns, remains to be seen.

  1. Hi Ellen, glad you are talking to a therapist that you like. I've been looking at research on this stuff and the biggest thing of all that helps with therapy is when the therapist treats you as a human being who has the right to be as they are just because they exist.If you are feeling good about who you are when you leave that's a good sign. It's building foundations on which the healing work will happen.I'm spending money on these massages once a week and I think already I could have paid for a decent HD TV with the money spent but it's making a difference for me and so like you I look at the positive effects on my life and figure it's worth it. It's great to take this business perspective with it as well. "I hour of therapy pays for itself by 8 hours of extra work that I can do". It shows that there are real benefits.Work relationships take time especially when you are seen as a 'temp' but it is also a skill that can be practiced. When I started freelancing I was pretty anti-social and isolated but I did learn how to socialise more – mainly because one wise old contractor told me that was how to keep a contract and keep earning money.

  2. Hi Ellen: good for you for getting back into therapy! It's amazing to me, as a therapist, how many people just want to find a pill or a chant or a potion to cure the wounding that happened in relationship (usually with a parent or caregiver) rather than in relationship with a therapist! I'm biased, but my clients prove the effectiveness of therapy to me every day. Happy journeys! BTW, social anxiety is super-responsive to positive self talk such as "I easily and joyfully connect with others around me", but you have to use them A LOT!!!

  3. gniz said:

    Hey Ellen,This is another really positive post. You should go through all your old posts and see the trend. The last four or so have been really positive, in as far as your attitude and determination are really improving!It's funny how people like us can take a really big step and find a way to throw doubt into the mix. For instance, even though you've made huge strides at work changing your image and socializing more, you say the gains may be due to an absent colleague! 🙂 And that they might go away when he returns! Ha.You must see that this type of thing is a bit self-defeating. I mean, I'm the same way. I always find myself balancing out a good step with a reason why it might not work out. I think this protects me from being let down if things don't work out as I'd hoped.Anyway, overall you're doing great work and accomplishing a lot. Anyone can see that.Best of luck, I'm checking in a lot to see how things go.Aaron

  4. Paula said:

    HI Ellen, good to see you back in therapy. I am sure the most important relation in my life is currently with my t. If she wouldnt team up with me, see me on the same level as she is, I would have left quite a time ago.During Intense Trauma Therapy last year I got introduced to art therapy. It isnt important to be Picasso and myself never woudl turn into one. By now I mostly ;-)) know that that is of no importance when it comes to expressing myself through paint and pencil. Maybe you like to have a look at this blog of mine:http://receoveryinart.blogspot.comHaving been diagnosed with selective anxiety disorder (private life only, in professional life I am doing great)I learned what works for me during this 3 months therapy. Hard stuff and obviously not yet working to often, but I keep going and hope to improve. NO, I will improve! One is the STOP exercise – which I adapted to my needs and when I STOP myself before I am going into a difficult situation, at the begin of or even in the middlle, I try to stop myself, take a breath and if possible withdraw for a moment. By now the awarenss for such situations in coming earlier and earlier. I used to get it afterwards, rather to the end or in the middle of such a situation, by now I tend to begin – middle. A small step yet a huge improvement as it unburdens me and takes away plenty of stress.

  5. Susan said:

    Hi Ellen! It's so good to hear that you are feeling a bit optomistic again! And to see the benefit of the balance between paying for therapy or missing work sounds as though you are seeing that you have options vs not. A good thing!I've found some resources for coaching in the realm of childhood issues such as what we've talked about. If you are interested I'd be happy to locate those emails for you.Have a great week Ellen!Susan

  6. Ellen said:

    Thanks dear commenters. Sorry for the slow response – i'm in survival mode and have to ditch a lot of stuff I want to do.@Mike – This T is able to accept who I am and makes a point of that, so that's a good sign then. She doesn't provide amazing insights, but I find going to see her a good thing overall. A dose of acceptance every week will hopefully help me to provide that for myself…Thx for the insights.@ Tanya – Thanks for visiting. Yes, it's likely a good thing I'm going for therapy. I'll try that affirmation, or at least to keep my thoughts positive if they're slipping into negative territory. @gniz – thanks Aaron for the perspective. I'm definitely inclined to see the dark depressing side! Things are trending upwards, and it's good to remember that.@ Paula – Thanks, yes I've seen your art therapy blog…in part it is what inspires me to try this way of healing. My drawing skills really are non-existent, but luckily, I don't care at all. The drawing is purely so I can sit with some feelings and allow them to be there. So for the STOP exercise, you stop in an anxiety situation in order to breathe and not react automatically? Sounds like a good idea but difficult to do I think.Hugs@ Susan – Thanks Susan. Yeah, options are a good thing, and I do have them.I'm not sure what coaching emails are, but if you get a chance, sure, send one to me. That would be great.

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