Wanted: therapy

I now have an appointment lined up with a prospective therapist who has a waiting list. It’s a free meeting to discuss if we’re a fit. If we are, I guess I go on the list. I have the same feeling as most – if people are lining up, he must be good.

This fellow has a lot of education – he used to teach literature in university, and has completed a two year training program in counseling, with lots of experience and posted articles that make sense.  Now I also have another email out to another therapist, this one with less education though the same training in counselling.

Over my lifetime, I’ve now consulted about seven professionals regarding my mental health. What has gone wrong? Let’s look at the evidence.

#1. Student therapist, nurse, in training at a university college. My first experience with therapy. She was actually not bad. I had no idea about anything, totally naive, and so everything she said was new. However, I was locked into an abusive marriage, with a young baby and no income of my own. Dealing with my memories plunged me further into a kind of paralyzing depression. So I’d say she wasn’t bad, but I was not in a place in my life where I could handle getting into dark feelings.

#2 Humanist type therapist. Good looking. Horrible fit. We disliked each other. I was really depressed, in the same situation as previously. She tried to get me to express my emotions by hitting things. Made me feel a whole lot worse. For this I paid good money? Please, I need my head examined.

#3 Psychiatrist. Badly depressed after divorce, unable to find work. Pills were the answer. Not really. Then being condescended to. But I clung to this man, needing someone, anyone, to help me. What did I know? Probably he wasn’t condescending – probably all in my head. Just keep taking the pills. Don’t think. At least he was free.

#4 Psychologist. Very matter of fact and scientific. Not bad. Expensive. Got me started on Acceptance / Committment Therapy. Tried EMDR. The EMDR plunged me into a black black depression, so I return to psychiatrist for more drugs. I quit the psychologist after about 8 months for lack of funds – I’d lost my job.

#5 Humanist type therapist through referral by women’s help line. She offers me a really low rate, as I’m between contracts. And her general rate is low in any case.  We do chiefly EMDR again. This plunges me into a crisis, where I can only sleep a few hours at a time, and have to drug myself asleep. I feel she lacks intelligence – after a few months, we have a fight, as I think she’s saying stupid things. Which she resents – and who wouldn’t resent that. I quit. It takes me a year to be able to sleep at least four hours at a time.

#6 Humanist type therapist. Older. Fairly pricey. Little education beyond a two year diploma in counseling, but specializes in trauma. She feels the last T should not have been plunging me into flashbacks via EMDR. Fine. But we do nothing but chit chat it seems. If anyone is going to bring up anything painful, it must be me. Well, there’s sensitive, and then there’s putting in the time as easily as possible to get your fee. We get along less and less well. We dislike each other. I quit.

Well, six. I’ve stayed less than a year with all but the first and the psychiatrist. I do not greatly like people in the helping professions. I do like them in theory – big hearted, out there helping people – but not in practice. In practice they seem to lack intelligence.

So what am I looking for this time?

I was thinking a man. It’s true that women irritate me more easily than men. Then I was thinking I need someone smart. If they have a lot of education, maybe they have more smarts? I can’t stand another woman who is trying to help people but doesn’t have much grip on the situation.

Of course, I need someone with some compassion also. And we need to like each other I think. I used to think, well, as long as they’re ‘nice’, and they have the knowledge, and I can afford them, then they should be OK. No more. I really need fit this time.

I want to find someone where I can stay until I feel better, and preferably not for years and years either, because I’d also like to buy furniture, which will not be possible while my funds go for therapy.

So there’s the issue of the person themselves. Then there’s the question of what kind of therapy? For trauma there’s body oriented, CBT, humanist (talking), EMDR (tried it), group, what else?

I’m kind of thinking the person themselves may be the most important consideration. Probably not a social worker type either – too touchy feely. Someone I can rely on to be there for me, whom I actually wish to talk with.

They should have experience with PTSD. But then, the last two specialized in it, and they were not good. So that is not the most important thing. Most important – the personality. Though of course the person needs some kind of plan of what they wish to do. Something that makes some sense, please God.

If you think I’m talking in circles, you’re probably right about that. I get confused fast when trying to think about this. And when I contact a T, I quake and shake. And I pore over their website, trying to read the tea leaves. And I quake at the first interview. But I need to keep my eye on the prize here – despite the fear, the shame, the discomfort, the prize is worth it. The prize is a healing path with a decent guide, someone to actually help me.

I have now contacted two individuals – I need to contact at least two more. I want to phone up an institute for self-psychology – they offer referrals and I’ve heard this is a good method. Though hopefully I can meet the referral first for a free half hour. I can’t afford to pay so many people just to figure out who I can work with. I’m not expecting a free session – just a free short interview.

Weather report: Low hanging clouds with some rain. Feelings of despair and isolation. Also some glimmers of hope breaking through for the new year.

Tomorrow at nine I see candidate number one. Wish me luck. 🙂

  1. This is quite funny. You are so self-aware and so clued-in to the weaknesses of others that I reckon you could sort this out yourself. Honestly, you just need a good friend to talk to and you can heal yourself.Please don't think that I have no sympathy. I do, but I also know that you have great reserves and a superior intellect. You will get better.Love Magsxx

  2. Ellen,Have you thought that maybe you are just not ready for therapy? It might just be too intense. It might be that you just need to trickle through stuff more slowly. Build a home, build a work and social life and so on. Therapy always requires recovery and processing time afterwards and that needs a suitable space/context.There is a lot you can do like exposure therapy, framework, breathing exercises and so on that can all be fitted into a flexible timetable that you choose.Mike

  3. Paula said:

    Wow, well analyzed and thought through. Congrats, shows lots of strength and intellect, exactly as Anonymous said. I am wishing you the very best for the New Year – it is so wonderful to see you on the right track. Hugs up North.

  4. Nechtan said:

    Hi Ellen,As I have said before its certainly not for a lack of trying and seeking help. I do hope you find that someone. I think it will come from a feeling of a connection rather than their education background or how many people they have consulted. Maybe not but I just get the feeling regardless of how much a person knows when it comes to therapy some people are just more insightful than others. And if there is a big plus to those you have seen before it is that you have a better understanding on what you need and are able to make a better judgement about whether its worth continuing.I do hope the next therapist is the one and also wish you all the best for 2011.All the bestNechtan

  5. Ellen said:

    @Mags – Glad you enjoyed it 🙂 and thanks for the kind words. Of course I would not think you lack sympathy, not at all. Actually I do think it is a character flaw of mine that I am overly critical and see the dark side of things. But it is kind of funny also, and we all need entertainment sometimes. A good friend would be nice, and I do appreciate my friends. I dunno. PTSD in notoriously difficult to heal on your own. Not a matter of lack of smarts. And my friends do not understand flashbacks, and I don't want to depress or scare them by talking about that kind of stuff, to tell the truth. Thanks for the comment – food for thought.@ Mike – Good point and it could be true. If I saw a list like mine I'd think it was the client, not all the therapists, that had the issues. In a way, I'm in a better place than ever before to do therapy type work…but yes, there are other areas of life I could work on. Hmm…@ Paula – Hugs to you 'down south' Paula, and congrats again you blushing bride!@ Nechtan – I totally agree with your points. It's the connection that counts, and the personality of the therapist. Thanks for your support Nechtan, and happy new year to you too.

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