Therapy Friday

Therapy was not great this week. I’ve been thinking again that I’m not getting anywhere, wondering if I should quit. I feel like Ron doesn’t understand my situation and that we’re not really on the same page. Which is a depressing thought in itself. He’s my only real life confidant, so if I lose him, I lose an awful lot. But – is it enough to buy a friendly listening ear?

The session yesterday didn’t ever go anywhere much. I was trying to feel something, complete with tingling top of head and feet, but it never became any clearer. I mentioned how awful I’d felt after work on Thursday, and Ron asked me what I felt were off the point types of questions – why did I feel that, did I feel lonely? I mean, why would I suddenly feel suicidal because of a long term problem like loneliness? Wouldn’t I then feel like that most of the time? So I told him the things I wrote about in a previous post on this, about work. He had nothing to say about that.

He never asked me about my anxiety of last week, which we’d discussed the last session, and about which I’d written him two long emails. It was as if he felt maybe that his explanation, it’s only feelings from the past, was the last word, and since I’d still gone on about the situation in the present, he didn’t want to know any more.

Oh, and he asked me if I ever play. That I’m doing what I need to to keep myself alive, but do I play? Which struck me as a ridiculous comment, after four f’ing years of therapy. I told him that would make sense if I was like him, without parts, but I’m not. I don’t have energy to do stuff beyond survival, because there are always these internal scenarios playing out.

Plus, yes, the child part B does play, in a way. At least, she wants to, and I bought her a toy unicorn last week which sits on our night table with a matching sorcerer queen. His comment would make sense applied to parts, but he didn’t mean it that way. He was talking about me. I just feel he has no idea what is going on with me at all.

I talked a bit about my son, how we had quite a nice hour together, but my son is not making any progress.

The whole session, it was difficult for me to talk. Nothing seemed appealing to talk about. Different parts were pushing up for time, but I didn’t feel free to let them have much time, though V did talk. She is a really negative teen aged part. I guess Ron has a difficult time with her – she is not that easy to deal with. She still want to be accepted though, and didn’t feel that this time. Not that Ron didn’t allow space, just, there was no real connection there.

V also wrote Ron an email after the session, pretty short, saying some things she likes. He didn’t respond, which didn’t help matters. I know he mostly just responds if I specifically ask him to, and I didn’t in this email, so there you go. In my current mood, it just seems further proof he doesn’t much care.

In the last five minutes, I remembered about hot warm cold trauma memories. I tried to explain this to Ron, in the context of why I get overwhelmed with the personal training – what comes up is too hot, and I automatically shut it down, and get trapped in various kinds of dissociation, and paralyzed. Ron doesn’t really agree with this way of looking at it. To me, it’s a very important concept altogether for dealing with trauma, but to him, it’s not.

He feels that when the stuff comes up, yes, I shut it down unconsciously. But if I had support to help me feel it, I wouldn’t do that, and it would start to process. Then he went on about his ‘movement room’ where we could try a session to see what comes up for me. Of course, we were going to try this a while ago, but week after week, he couldn’t find a time where it was free for booking. So that idea just got dropped. I don’t know – is he now saying he wants to try booking it again?

Anyway, I don’t trust it. I used to feel as he does – don’t shut things down, just keep feeling them, and they will process. However, it’s been four years. I’ve been triggered into trauma over and over, and yes, left to deal with it by myself, which is no one’s fault, just my circumstances. I’ve lost so many days to being immobilized by the after effects – shock, switching into very young parts, needing to lie down for most days of every weekend. And then, the same thing would happen all over again the next week. I didn’t remember more. Nothing seemed to change.

I’m pretty sure the same thing would happen with his movement room trauma session. He never wants to put the brakes on anything. I’m always the bad guy, hanging back, worried about the fallout when I get home. I’m sure all kinds of trauma stuff would come up for me. The problem is that it doesn’t seem to help. And it sure hurts a lot.

I get that he’s not afraid of the trauma, which I do appreciate. He said we could schedule a session a few days later to talk about what came up. I could take a day or two off work if I needed to. I think a lot of therapists are afraid of trauma. It must be painful to help someone through it.

I don’t trust  that this would help me.

In general, I feel like the person who is not trying hard enough. Just like in personal training actually. That Ron thinks I’m hanging back because I’m afraid. Yes, I’m afraid, with good reason. Plus he keeps trying to do therapy on me and ignoring parts, when parts is where my troubling emotions are coming from most of the time. Then he gets frustrated that it’s not working.

There is a young child part, B, who is very attached to Ron. She hasn’t spoken for the last few sessions though.She tends to speak about everyday things that concern her, and she is often quite cheerful in a childish way. Ron seems to have tired of this – it’s not deep, it’s not getting to the root of anything. But that is what this part is like. She’s not deep.

So, she has stopped talking to him, and he doesn’t ask about her.

So, I want to quit therapy. I don’t have confidence Ron knows enough about trauma to help me.

But, I’ve felt that way about a lot of therapists before, so it’s not a new feeling. I wouldn’t just quit, after four years, I would go back and end properly. This is all depressing. Maybe I’ve got the wrong end of the stick. Maybe we need to talk it out. Ron seems to be trying to do therapy with me as if he’s never met me though. I feel like I’m wasting my time.

  1. Cat said:

    It is difficult when we are not feeling very connected with our Therapist, we start to hide how we really feel and then get frustrated when they are unable to work it out for themselves.

    I wonder if it just takes longer to work through trauma when someone is dealing with other parts, but I can understand the four-year frustration. I haven’t followed that long, so it’s difficult to judge any progress. Sometimes I do wonder if Ron has a full grasp of parts and trauma, but who am I to judge. I don’t like the idea of a Therapist getting frustrated because the therapy isn’t working.

    Going back to tell talk things through and state YOUR feelings, whether he likes them or not, is a big challenge, but a necessary one, good luck, I’m rooting for you, Ellen

    • Ellen said:

      I wonder if I am hiding how I really feel. I was in a quarrelsome mood actually, with bits of V leaking out all over the place. However. I didn’t get into it with him on his theory or resolving trauma. There wasn’t really time, and anyway, I do shy away from contradicting Ron about his theories, because to me, he is the expert. However, I’m the expert on my own experience.

      It does take a long time to work through trauma held in parts. I don’t know about progress either. I made progress at first, I know that. But in the last two years – not so sure. Plus I’ve talked to two of his other clients, whom I met in group, and they’d been going to him for many years, and didn’t seem to have made progress, IMO. But – they liked him. Which I do too. Ron is a good guy. But is liking someone personally enough to keep paying for therapy?

      Thanks for the encouragement Cat. I’m having a rough day and it means a lot.

      • Cat said:

        How’s it going today, Ellen?

        • Ellen said:

          Still rough. Did the laundry though! Hope yours is good though. E.

  2. Rachel said:

    I think you are working and trying really hard to heal. That is what I see anyways. Otherwise, why would you even question if it is working? Also rooting for some clarity to ease your mind.

    • Ellen said:

      Thanks for the kind words Rachel. Clarity would be very welcome also. Thanks for commenting.

  3. leb105 said:

    I’m glad you are writing. Wasn’t it only a month ago or so, when it seemed so clear how far you’ve come? You’re going through another rough patch, now. I’m sorry – it sounds really difficult. You are SO strong.
    Howard is calling my attention to the level of attunement I’m feeling with him, and how I react – it sounds as if it were lacking in this session… It seems like you feel a lack of attunement, so you hold back on the parts, which keeps the conversation head-y, but that means that the session won’t be satisfying. It’s quite similar for me – when I feel a gap in the attunement, I think I get angry and resentful after the session – think about quitting. When I feel attuned to, I feel bliss.
    I think it’s great that he wants to be there with you, to support you while you’re experiencing something that happens regularly to you, outside his office. He’s thinking outside the box. I can understand why you’d be scared – but the buried trauma already disrupts and limits your life and costs you “productivity”, and there’s little prospect of changing that unless you can approach it, don’t you think?

    • Ellen said:

      Yes, maybe it was lack of attunement. We’re not really on the same page about what I’m going through with work, and not talking much about that. I don’t remember feeling I was making progress, but I’ll take you word for it.

      He does do sessions in the movement therapy room sometimes, just it’s hard to book somehow. We’d agreed in the past to try it, but he couldn’t book it. I do appreciate that Ron is trying to help, offering extra sessions to deal with stuff.

      The thing about trauma is, I’ve already tried approaching it. I started out thinking the way he does – just get it out so I can feel it and deal with it. That’s happened many times now. It’s not hard to trigger out my trauma. The thing is, this hasn’t helped. I’ve gone through really rough times trying to recover, and it’s the same as ever – it doesn’t resolve. So I’m leery of keeping on doing the same thing. Plus, when you research trauma, most of the research says it needs to be approached slowly and piece by piece, not just triggered out. It’s not that I don’t want to deal with trauma. It’s that I don’t think he knows how to do it so it can heal. But – I will discuss it more with Ron. Maybe he can point me to some resource, some research, anything, that supports his own view.

      Thanks for your thoughts Laura.

      • leb105 said:

        I wonder, how could it NOT be helpful to have Ron there when you’re triggered, instead of a personal trainer? or your boss? Supporting you in being curious about it, rather than suppressing it?
        How do you account for the progress you’ve made, if his approach isn’t working? I love that YOU are friendly and supportive of your parts, even if you don’t think HE is. That seems like a huge and positive change…. would you have gotten there alone?
        What is it that you would like to do, instead?
        I’m sorry if I’m being annoying! I need to find a way to detach this couch from my butt! Laundry would be a start!

        • Ellen said:

          Well, if the same feelings came up with Ron as with my boss, that would be wonderful, because I could explore it. Trauma is different though. It’s as if you were in a car accident, and you can’t remember it, but sometimes, little bits of it get triggered out, and you remember the fear and the pain and some of the sights, and then it’s too much, and you forget it again. And that keeps happening, over and over. That’s the kind of trauma I mean – not interpersonal. I think it’s great if these other things are triggered in therapy, because you can address them. With trauma, having it triggered out is not helping. So far. And it disables me for days. And there’s a lot of theory out there that says it doesn’t help to simply re-experience.

          That’s as clear as I can explain what I mean, so if it still doesn’t make sense to you, that’s OK, but I can’t explain any more clearly.

          It’s true, I’ve gained a lot in becoming aware of parts. I’m not saying I haven’t made gains from therapy. And I would be very sad to leave it.

          • leb105 said:

            I’m sure that bringing the boss-feeling into the room with Ron wouldn’t FEEL wonderful… if you thought Ron was judging you, punishing you, withholding – and then you’re supposed to trust and work through your feelings with this guy?
            It was helpful to hear that you make a distinction between (what I would call) the trauma you experienced having a Dad like that – which are no picnic in themselves, and the overwhelming feelings that come up when you do something physical.
            Do you have an idea for how to approach the trauma feelings more slowly?

            • Ellen said:

              Not sure if I replied to this? Yes – it would feel awful. It would be a tangled mess if those feelings got projected on to Ron for sure. I’d need a lot of faith that Ron is none of those things, underneath, and that I can work through this.

              No, I don’t really know how to do trauma more slowly. It would be helpful if Ron agreed that that is a good goal, but he doesn’t. Maybe I’ll figure something out – I hope so. I do know Ron wants to help me – he would put extra time into supporting me. I am just stuck with this at the moment.

              Thanks Laura.

  4. It really does seem, temporarily, that you’re at an impasse with this. You’re (maybe) starting to find a way of working with the parts that really helps, and that’s not what Ron thinks will help, so he doesn’t encourage you in it or support you in doing it. He does some other things that helps–he does listen and he’s not afraid of the emotions of it, and that helps.

    I think a lot (maybe most) therapists who do psychodynamic therapy are like Ron. They don’t look beyond “support” with processing as a way of staying “warm.” Support does help with that, or it can. (It never helped me. Trust is too hard.) But there’s not enough of it. You can’t do use it as the only tool in your toolbox. There’s somehow a disconnect with how much there is, that an hour a day even isn’t going to do it. You’re dealing with this stuff literally 24 hours a day, and the time in session is never enough. It seems to be put away, but it’s not put away. It doesn’t go back neatly into the box. It’s like they never grasp the intensity of it, or how long it lasts. They really think that once you realize it’s just a feeling and will go away, you’ll cheer up about the whole thing. But they have no idea, for example, that it’s maybe four hours a day I feel suicidal (or used to) while I’m trying to make breakfast and do laundry and all these practical things that need to get done and that this went on for months. They don’t seem to grasp that the feelings are torture, nor do they seem to grasp that using “support” alone means you will probably die before you get better.

    There’s another disconnect i have noticed, which has to do with the idea that getting it out into the open will help, and it does help, but not right away and not in and of itself. So you still have to get through the day or the week or the month or the year with this stuff going on. I think that one comes from the idea of catharsis, which has been really damaging to our collective understanding of how the mind works and how trauma heals. Catharsis doesn’t exist. It’s wrong-headed.

    The thing about B is that being “out” helps bring parts into the present. So it’s not deep, but “B” gets to explore her personality, who she is, what she likes, she gets to see that the world is safe, and that she can have relationships. This is very, very important, and it’s something she’ll bring to the parts who are very fearful of relationships later.

    I have another thought about this which is that, although I know they are all part of me, I feel very much like i am responsible and I am the parent with the parts. They are almost all children. So, no, I’m not going to push them to do things that are going to be very, very upsetting to them and they don’t have the maturity or the tools to deal with and that I don’t have the tools to help them with. I am not going to make them do things that will just lead to suffering without clear evidence there will be improvement. I wouldn’t do that to real children, and i won’t do that to them either. They are not just things to be experimented on. They have been in a lot of pain for a long time and they need to feel confident that I am developing the tools and the wisdom to keep them safe from their overwhelming emotions–a lot of the trauma is just that. It’s just the overwhelm of intense emotional states. That’s been torture for them, and I won’t do it.

    No, Ron doesn’t get it. The relationship may still have some things about it that will help you in this process, but it can’t be the only thing, and the two of you are going to have disagree about the direction and focus sometimes.

    V can talk to me if she wants. I know about teenagers. It’s really hard.

    • Ellen said:

      I really like your comment – a lot of this resonates with me. About the parts being out – no matter what they talk about, there’s something that feels really good about it to me. They need to be heard even if they want to talk about necklaces or ice cream or whatever. But I can see, if you are not understanding about parts, how that can seem like avoidance to a therapist. And it’s just exhausting, being in the situation, and then trying also to explain it to someone who thinks wrong things about it.

      As to your comments re support – it does feel like I’ll die before this method helps enough to make a difference!

      And catharsis – I don’t know. What i do know is it’s not simple. It’s not just – blam, here are all the feelings / sensations, now they’re out, hurrah. That just doesn’t help with this type of trauma. Maybe with other kinds, perhaps.

      Yes, I think of parts as children I’m responsible for also. In my case they are all children, and mostly very young, except for V.

      Thanks for the offer of talking with V. I’m not sure – I’ll consider.

      Thanks Ashana

      • I’m glad those thoughts helped.

        It’s risky letting a part talk to someone especially if you don’t know them that well. You don’t know what might get said or if something will inadvertently trigger the part. So I understand. The offer is there. This is all hard work. If I can help, I’d like to.

  5. Another thought: Can you let the parts write posts (password protected so you can select who reads them). They need to be able to talk.

    • Ellen said:

      I don’t trust enough to do that. I do have them write in a notebook though. Thx.

  6. leb105 said:

    Ashana’s reply makes me think that B might come up when you’re not feeling safe to go deeper, when you’re not feeling supported.
    Your post is unusually full of negative interpretations about Ron and circular logic, though. If he doesn’t ask for B, he doesn’t care about her? He doesn’t care about her, therefore you don’t let her express herself, therefore you feel even less safe and heard. If you don’t feel supported, ‘Ron doesn’t get it’.
    Try leaning in to not feeling supported, instead of backing away. Since you’ve half a mind to quit anyway and you think he doesn’t understand, what do you have to lose by telling him how you feel about what happens between you?

    • Ellen said:

      Yeah, I will talk to Ron about things. I’m not that shy that I wouldn’t.

      • leb105 said:

        and BTW, the topic of attunement came out of your workbook, the exercise on page 28!

  7. manyofus1980 said:

    Your not wasting your time. I read a post further on than this one, so I do know you managed to sort things out and are keeping on with therapy for now and I’m glad you sorted things out, it must feel good to have been able to be open and honest with Ron. XX

  8. drgeraldstein said:

    I read your “About” description, which I appreciate was probably written a while back. One question you might wish to ask yourself: what is your current diagnosis? If you are, indeed, DID or DDNOS, psychodynamic treatment might not be indicated. Obviously, this is also something about which your therapist has an important opinion.

    • Ellen said:

      My therapist doesn’t diagnose, so I’ve self diagnosed. I’m not DID, as I don’t lose time and don’t have adult parts. I would be so happy if I wasn’t DDNOS – I don’t want to have it.

      Ron believes psychodynamic therapy is good for everything, more or less. I could ask him specifically, but I’m pretty sure he’ll tell me it’s good for dissociative disorders.

      I looked at your biography page, and you seem to have specialized in CBT. If I thought that would help me, I could probably get that covered by insurance here in Canada. Is that what you’re recommending? I don’t quite see how that approach would help for dissociation, but what do I know after all.

      Thanks for commenting.

      • drgeraldstein said:

        Here are the treatment guidelines of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation:

        I have seen no accepted body of research supportive of the notion that psychodynamic treatment is appropriate for everything. For what it is worth, I treated a number of dissociative patients, including some who were DID. I can’t make any recommendations of a specific treatment that would be right for you. However, I’d say generally it is a good idea to be as informed as you can be about your diagnosis and treatments that are thought to be appropriate for that diagnosis. Best wishes.

        • Ellen said:

          Interesting you have treated DID. Thanks very much for the link. It seems like a great report. I skipped to the treatment guidelines section, where they do seem to recommend psychodynamic treatment as a primary treatment. That is a relief to me – it’s possible my therapy will help me, though I guess that’s not what you were saying exactly in your comment. Quite honestly, I’m struggling a lot with having this disorder – it is extremely painful for me to read about it. I don’t want to have it. But I will download and read the whole thing – it seems like good stuff – not too medical, which I am allergic to personally.

          I’m likely misrepresenting Ron’s opinions. I am in a struggle with him, and I’m likely getting it wrong.

          Interesting also that you have taken up blogging. So many fellow bloggers are in their twenties – it’s great to hear other perspectives also. Thanks very much for commenting!

          • drgeraldstein said:

            I would hesitate to say that a straight on psychodynamic approach is recommended by the guidelines of the ISSD site. If there is a trauma history, as is virtually always the case, there are major issues of safety and the therapist is typically much more active than he is in a traditionally psychodynamic approach. Experience also counts for a lot as the ins and outs of the treatment guidelines might suggest. I have no opinion about Ron and don’t know his background, experience, etc. so I can’t comment on what he knows or is doing. I will say that patients who have significant dissociation and trauma histories take the very best of every therapists I’ve ever spoken with about the subject. While I can well appreciate your discomfort with such a diagnosis, it is ultimately important to know what you do or don’t “have.” It is very hard to set goals outside of a sense of diagnosis and knowledge of what the symptoms are, how you wish to approach them, and in what order. Therapists are well advised to know the literature on dissociation and obtain supervision from someone experienced if they have not treated anyone with prominent dissociative features before. Best of luck.

            • Ellen said:

              I’m going to read that ISSD document more carefully. Thanks for laying out some of the issues. I do know I give Ron a rough time sometimes.

              I’m pretty sure it’s DDNOS at this point. I do have the trauma history, sexual trauma before age six, which I guess can have this result. After reading your comment, I was thinking about how I could get a more ‘official’ opinion. It’s not easy, especially as I don’t trust the medical system. I had a psych once who was completely terrible and don’t want to repeat the experience. However I have consulted with a psychologist some years ago – I could go back to her and ask her opinion, as she does diagnose. When I saw her, I didn’t know about parts, but now I do. It would be expensive but I’d go just a few times.

              I am attached to my current therapist, who is very kind in so many ways, so it would be very hard on me to make the change. However, I might have to do it.

              I appreciate your taking the time to give me all this information Dr. G. Thank you!

            • drgeraldstein said:

              No trouble. All the best!

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