Therapy Thursday

How to describe my last session. It was yesterday. It may be it was really helpful, but I kind of can’t tell. It was very painful for the rest of the day. Today I feel odd – spaced. Everything seems empty. I might feel sad but I can’t really feel it. I do lack all motivation to get anything accomplished, which sucks – my last precious day off – I start my new job Monday.

It is good to have time free. One big advantage is that my continuing sleep difficulties don’t impact me as much. I’m routinely up a few hours in the middle of the night, and with no work, I can sleep in, and no harm done.

So the session. Ron seemed a little different – very solemn somehow. He’s always quite serious, but this was extra. I had the impression something has perhaps gone wrong in his personal life. I didn’t ask him directly, but he gave absolutely nothing away at all, where otherwise he might tell me this or the other. I asked if he was going away this weekend, because he couldn’t see me on Friday, and he just shrugged no.

I started out by saying that I’ve had lots of triggers this week, and what should I do? He asked me to describe what they were. I described three triggers – last week’s therapy, then the Easter dinner, then the acupuncture I’d been to on Tuesday.

I’ve gone to acupuncture to help with this virus that has been hanging on for weeks and weeks. The treatment seemed to plunge me into body memories. They’re like a state I get into, with choking, but I don’t feel much, I tell Ron.

Ron says body memories can be a substitute for whatever the feelings are, and the way to deal with them is to try to feel the feelings.

We then took a detour to the Easter dinner trigger. I complained that it wasn’t clear what caused my depression the next day. Ron said sometimes an event is a reminder of something else that was very sad. Like if someone’s spouse died a year ago, then they attend a wedding, and then feel very sad. The wedding didn’t cause the sadness, it reminded the person of their lost spouse.

That did make sense. I talked a bit about how many years I’d wasted with my ex, how I’d wanted to leave, but couldn’t get work, with no experience. And with a baby, you can’t just rent a basement bachelor, you need more than that, so it wouldn’t have been cheap. But now I think my parents would have helped me, and my ex also. Not emotionally, but they would have given me some funds.

Ron just listens and nods.

Then we’re back to how I’m feeling. This whole time, I’m still feeling the effects of the acupuncture. Ron asks me to describe it more. Like black clouds….blackness, I try. The feelings are swirling around me, but I have trouble articulating what they are. I feel angry…like kicking something. And of course, now I switch into a part, maybe B. My speech becomes more child-like and intense. I’m fighting to stay with all this swirling blackness. I tell Ron it’s really hard and it feels really bad. He nods. He mostly just sits with me while I go through it. When I don’t say anything for a while, he asks me a question. It’s taking a lot out of me to just keep staying with the black feelings. I feel small, angry, sad, and as if I’m being attacked. There are no clear pictures of what is happening though.

I use most of the rest of the session to stay with this stuff. I’d rather feel it than be in this odd disembodied state that the acupuncture put me into. At one point I tell Ron I feel I am bad. He asks if someone told me I was bad, and B. replies Yes, very positively. Personally I don’t remember any of this.

Close to the end of session, I say I need to switch out, and Ron tries to help me ground a bit, asking if I feel my body and such.

And I leave. Right after the session, I feel this was good work. I’m trying to feel the feelings. Because as Ron pointed out, I keep getting triggered, even though I try to avoid it – by the dentist, the acupuncture, therapy….if I exercised, I’d get triggered by that also, and many other things. Theoretically, I see it’s better to try and feel it.

I’m disappointed though that today has been mostly a wash. I have no motivation, and feel kind of dissociated. It seems like making any effort brings up a lot of sad feelings, so likely I’m avoiding that by staying home and reading.

So I’m still losing quite a bit of time to therapy aftermath. I’m still thinking of interviewing a few other trauma oriented T’s. I missed my opportunity to do that when I had time off – now I basically have to see someone evenings or on the weekend, which is hard as more experienced T’s tend to work business hours it seems. Could be after a few weeks at work, I’ll be able to work from home once in a while, so then, I could see people on those days.

This seems disloyal to me, as I’m appreciating Ron again and I think he’s doing a pretty good job. I don’t think it’s easy to keep accompanying a client to these dark places. I just have an itch to see what other methods might be like. It’s not that I don’t appreciate Ron. But I’ve read quite a bit about trauma now, and I know there are other methods to try and help with it.


  1. I can understand why you would be curious as to whether someone who better understands how to work with parts might be more able to help you move through processing what needs to be processed with the parts. But it would also be difficult to give up the established relationship that you have with Ron.

    I wasn’t able to comment when you did your post on therapist qualifications, but I have a few thoughts… Basically, studies have shown that a therapist’s efficacy is not determined by the degree that she or he has. It has to do more with years of experience and the personal skills and mindset of the therapist. As far as training regards to trauma treatment, there are very few programs that do anything more than a cursory acknowledgment of trauma (the MSW program at SUNY Buffalo does have a specialty in trauma, but is the only one that I specifically know about.) For the most part, therapists pick up their knowledge on treating trauma through continuing education, mentoring, individual and group supervision, reading, etc.. You might get lucky and find someone with a PhD whose faculty advisor’s field of interest was trauma, but in general a PhD isn’t going to mean much in terms of trauma expertise.

    • Ellen said:

      Since trauma is so prevalent, you’d think it would be a big focus of any therapist training, wouldn’t you? Just doesn’t make sense. Thanks for all the info. I have read in many places that a big predictor of therapy success is the quality of the relationship between client and T. Good to know about PhDs, since I can’t afford one anyway.

  2. I would be looking for someone with more trauma experience and someone who understands and has experience with dissociation. Your therapist seems good, and I’m only going by your last post, but it doesn’t sound like he engages with your parts. Maybe that isn’t accurate, but it is essential!!

    • Ellen said:

      Well, he does engage with parts if you mean talk with them. I didn’t really describe this in this post, but I switched into a child part a short way into exploring the ‘blackness’ type feelings, so then he talked with that part.

      I think he’s a good T. But he doesn’t have any training for dissociation, and I worry I need to see someone who has that. Thanks Me12.

      • I’m so glad! Praying you are led to someone you feel connected with, in your healing.

  3. Rachel said:

    Ugh sorry you are back in the painful and dissociated place. Therapy really brings that out of you, doesn’t it? It just sounds so terrible, being so immobilized. I just feel the state of helplessness in what you say, and it sounds so difficult to continue week after week. Especially with the effort you put in. I really wish you could have some more help with the specific aspects of trauma symptoms. Ron sounds so caring and so loyal, I understand why you feel that you would be going behind his back. It is hard when nothing overtly “bad” is happening to leave a relationship that may not be meeting needs. Especially when you have such a history of people that were so harmful to you. I can see why you don’t want to leave Ron.

    • Ellen said:

      I think being immobilized/collapsing is kind of like your issue of overwhelming emotions. But I skip over that and go right to collapse, so the challenge for me is to actually feel the emotions.

      Could be someone else would be more helpful with the trauma aspect – I just don’t know. It gets complicated also because some of my distrust / anger is part of my feelings coming up, but some may be justified.

      Thanks Rachel.

      • Rachel said:

        When you write about your experience, it does sound very similar to me. And your post last night about the anxiety and better able to get things done really sounds a lot like the state I am constantly in. I can get stuff done but the anxiety is not comfortable to deal with. And sometimes the anxiety gives way to that collapse. I think it is both (based on what you’ve wrote and my knowledge of trauma treatment) – I think some is transference and projection, and some is legitimate need surfacing for a different approach. I think both are true.

        • Ellen said:

          I prefer the anxiety (up to a point of course, after which it becomes pretty brutal), because it’s so nice to actually get some things done, and have some kind of a life. Interesting you can relate to what I write because I tend to think we have different issues. I envy you your social abilities for instance…Yeah, my distrust is likely both. Thank you

  4. You shouldnt feel disloyal. It sounds like your looking for a more experienced therapist. And thats ok. I had to do that too. It worked out well for me and now I have a great therapist. XX

  5. e.Nice said:

    That sounds so difficult. The black clouds. Unknowing. I think it is interesting that you felt it was good work immediately afterwards but then not so much later. I get that too and not sure why. I imagine for you its in part due to the time it takes to recover from sessions. I’m glad he is grounding you before you leave. Hopefully that reduces the recovery timeframe. I hope your job went ok today.

    • Ellen said:

      Yeah. For me it’s that the emotional effects of it seem to hit with a delay. I still think it’s good work, it’s just really painful. Thanks

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