Therapy has not been helpful lately. I believe that I do have to do my own work, my own healing. It’s not magic happening in the therapy room that will do the trick.

I have felt absolutely full of criticism, complaint and hurt feelings concerning Ron. His style of therapy seems unsuited to my situation. I’m not sure I want to write out all the mental criticism I have of him, because I’ve been working on letting it be. Not thinking about it any more. I considered quitting, but am not quite at that point I don’t think.

It doesn’t help much to bring it to him, because a lot of it is just how he practices. This is what he offers. If I don’t think that’s what I need, I should try something else, or be therapy free for a change.

I am somewhat better for going to therapy. But, the things that are better, Ron doesn’t even see. They’re not things we ‘worked on’. It’s just that because he is supportive, I’ve been able to feel things and think about things during the week that have helped somewhat.

I’m still in parts. One of the most hurtful things Ron did was last week, when it somehow came up that I’m not sure therapy is helping, was that he thought because I’m not speaking from the parts lately, or leaving session in such a dark place, that this means I’m better.

I’ve been going to session right after work, and am in this buttoned-down coping kind of a place. So I haven’t had parts speak, and haven’t accessed any difficult emotions. Sessions are boring, where I tell Ron I don’t know what to talk about, things are OK. Or I talk about some things that bother me, but this doesn’t really go anywhere and the conversation peters out.

Does this mean I’m better? Because I can’t relax enough in therapy to feel anything?

So, that hurt my feelings. Plus the idea he has that if parts just stop speaking, they have integrated magically. Does that happen by magic? I don’t actually know, but it hasn’t happened in my case.

Another big divide we have is that Ron has no vocabulary about therapy, on principle. I do believe that if you have no vocabulary, you can’t really work on anything in any systematic kind of a way. So I feel that I don’t know what I’m working on or what I’m trying to do. Everything is just one big ball of badness.

I wrote him some of this in an email last week, to which he didn’t really respond. We did agree to try a different time, later in the day, so I have a few hours to come down from work.

I’m intending to work on parts. That’s who needs Ron. I’m personally fed up with him. I know a lot of people go to therapy for a sympathetic ear. I’m wanting more.

The other thing is his super receptive attitude. To me, it reminds me of my very very withdrawn mother in particular. The whole session seems up to me – he doesn’t offer much direction, if any. I can see how it can be good, to simply be receptive. How it can be a practice for the therapist even. But for me, it feels like too much emptiness. Especially if I go there without much of a plan, if I’m reluctant to plunge into hard topics….It feels just like not much guidance.

I believe there is some transference/counter transference stuff going on, but this is not Ron’s area, so we don’t discuss it. I wish he did have knowledge in this area.

So I’ve complained about Ron afterall. Couldn’t resist. But since I’m not ready to quit, I want to stop resenting him, stop criticizing him in my mind. It reminds me of how I get when a relationship goes wrong – this is familiar territory. It feels bad to think so negatively. I want to be able to soak up the goodness Ron does provide, and stop thinking of how I wish he were different!

  1. I wonder if it sends a message: if he’s removed and distant, do you need to be distant too?

    I was reminded of you last night having dinner with my friend and her family and a family friend. He seemed a lot like your family somehow, academic and elitist, and it was so boring I washed dishes as long as I decently could. It seemed to dampen everyone’s sense of aliveness for him to be there. I have met him before, and my friend was really surprised I didn’t clearly remember him. I met him again and realized exactly why. I couldn’t connect to him at any level. They spent 30 minutes talking about parking in various major cities. I felt like I’d rather undergo physical torture. It reminded me of your family’s topics. It’s like don’t talk about anything that might have meaning for you, don’t reveal anything that could put you in an embarrassing light. It’s deadening.

    What you say about Ron thinking you are better is kind of maddening and I feel like I went through that without being aware of it. If you stop bringing in your pain, because it doesn’t feel comfortable to do that, then you’re better, but you don’t feel better. You want to be functional and alive. Not more functional but dead inside.

    The parts are integrated when they start to feel resonant as “me.” You experience their emotions inside of yourself and realize, “Oh, wait, actually that’s my feeling about it.” It starts to be a felt sense instead of thoughts or behaviours. I’ve started to realize parts are kind of shorthand for things I am feeling. If I start gravitating towards turquoise or other bright-coloured things, I am feeling optimistic. Some kind of new direction seems at hand. If I can catch that, I can give myself permission to actually have that emotion instead of expressing it in my behaviour, then that’s going to help me. For example, if V comes out, you might start to think you feel really despairing and connect it to the despair you felt as a teenager, but recognize that despair has been an ongoing part of your life and there are times when you feel it as an adult. Your teenage years were just especially dense with it. When you recognize them and respond to them, it starts to feel safe for them to be you, and they come out in ways that are adult and not young anymore. You start to realize adults have vulnerable feelings too, and these are all part of your adult self. It takes a long time.

    It’s really hard.

    • Ellen said:

      I kind of think it does sent that message, to me. To someone with intrusive type parents, probably his behaviour would be helpful and felt as relaxing, but to me, not so much.

      That person does sound awful! My family is kind of like that. I know that trapped feeling and feeling like you need to escape. Meantime, no one is being mean or angry or anything conventionally ‘bad’.

      Yes, it is maddening. I felt so bad after that session, full of V thoughts of self-destruction. Not a good sign after a therapy session that wasn’t dealing with those thoughts. I do want to be functional and alive – I like that way of putting it. We need both.

      Thanks for your thoughts about integration. I’m quite a long way off from that. The parts are more like voices for me, and sometimes like flows of energy and emotion. They are young parts, which makes expressing them problematic in relationships, where I’m needing to be an adult. Hopefully somehow I’ll start moving along this path more.

      Thanks Ash!

      • I feel like I have those V thoughts when I just can’t seem to connect. I can’t communicate or be understood, and the self-destruction is anger I’m not really feeling. I’m really frustrated with the situation, must be my fault, feel like taking it out on myself. It’s hard to just feel the frustration, but it does make the thoughts lighten up to do that. It ends up feeling shocking to me just to feel so much anger and frustration though.

        • Ellen said:

          That makes a lot of sense. Thank you. I do sense that parts are working in complicated ways.

  2. leb105 said:

    Hi E, this sounds so much like what I’m going through, with Howard. I try not to bring it into the session – it doesn’t seem relevant! My goal is to _contain_ anger (which tends to erupt, outside). It’s not what I want to talk about – have more important stuff that I need his help with! And he’s just frustrating!!
    Try letting it all hang out – read him this post!! as an experiment – see if it doesn’t go better. Both of us repress the free expression of anger/criticism/doubts to our therapists/parental figures – to anyone we NEED, both of us can’t imagine how that could make things better.
    What have you got to lose?

    • leb105 said:

      … and we both withdraw when we feel hurt, feel abandoned and thrown back upon our own resources and react by pulling away – instead of expressing the hurt and anger. We defensively ‘avoid direct experience of the emotions’ by trying to talk about concepts – like transference – the difference between talking about swimming, and swimming. That his silence reminds you of your mother’s silence, you are swimming in transference. Instead of defensively following the old groove that you learned with your mother, share what you are feeling with him as you share with us. Thank you.

      • leb105 said:

        ‘It doesn’t help much to bring it to him, because a lot of it is just how he practices. ‘ It won’t help by changing HIM and what he’s doing (which is what I think you’re saying here), it helps by changing YOU. Instead of acting out your old pattern (in hopes of changing your mom and getting your needs met), you are NOT pulling away, you are sharing your feelings.

        • Ellen said:

          This is a reply to all your comments Laura.

          This is not really ringing true for me, though I respect that it is your situation. I have talked with Ron already about all of the things I complain of here. I wrote him an email after last session talking about all this. In addition, we have many times gone over how ‘I think he doesn’t know what he’s doing’ – Ron’s way of putting it. We’ve discussed. I don’t feel better. This is the way he practices. The fact that I have concerns about this is just there. It doesn’t get better with ventilation.

          What I am going to try to do is determine for myself what i need to work on, then bring that in. He won’t help with that, but once I decide on what to do, he can support me.

          I don’t really withdraw that much when I’m unhappy – I become endlessly critical and negative. Which is how I am now in this situation.

  3. Hugs Ellen, I struggled with bringing parts to my sessions. I discovered that coloring in the waiting room helped me to bring my parts along. Strangely enough when I did integrate it just happened. However, I did do a lot of work with the different parts and all felt heard. You don’t seem to be having that experience right now. Bummer. I hope you get to a place that you do feel heard or find a different counselor. Cheering for you.

    • Ellen said:

      I love colouring in session while we’re talking. I haven’t been able to do that, as I don’t bring my colouring stuff to work, but I’m going in from home tonight so I’ll bring crayons along.

      Interesting about integration for you. I think for me, I do need to work with parts also in order for this to happen.

      Thanks for cheering for me.

  4. Hi Ellen. I just wanted to say hi and tell you I’m listening and caring. It’s hard for me to know what to say about Ron. Sometimes when I read about him not getting it, I feel so angry on your behalf! I know I get frustrated with and occasionally hurt by E, but most of the time I feel she is very attuned and thoughtful, and she is clear about the frameworks she uses for thinking about therapy. I want to tell you to fire Ron and find a more caring therapist, but of course, easy for me to say, far away and with my own therapist that I trust. Far harder for you to imagine starting over with someone new, someone that you wouldn’t even know for a while whether s/he was a good fit for you. So I can see why telling you to get rid of him wouldn’t be helpful. If that’s what you need to do, you will eventually come to that point yourself, where you decide it’s worth it. In the meantime, I can see you are making huge efforts to communicate to him about what you need.

    I can imagine just making that effort is in some way therapeutic for you, because it gets you to identify and articulate your needs. But what would be best would be if doing that then resulted in getting your needs met, and it’s not clear that Ron can do that. I wish he could; what you are asking for is not unreasonable.

    Perhaps going in at a different time will make some difference. I hope so. I’m cheering for you, too.

    • Ellen said:

      Thanks for caring Q.

      I think Ron is actually a caring therapist. Though he’s not at all clear about frameworks he uses, that’s for sure.

      I’m in a completely different place than I was when I wrote this, so it’s hard for me to reply. I do have some doubts about Ron’s level of knowledge still, but we had a much better session last time….You’re right that making the effort of articulating what I need is helpful in itself. Plus Ron did respond to some of it, which was a complete surprise to me. And the different time also helped.

  5. So sorry you continue to struggle with Ron. As far as parts and being integrated; it is not like he thinks. When they stop talking, that doesn’t mean integration. For me, it means they are distancing themselves and may need to talk. They all need to be heard and share their stories. You may have done all that, I don’t know. When you start accepting their stories and feelings and emotions as your own, without dissociating, you are integrating. It happens along the way, not all at once.
    Take care! This is difficult.

    • Ellen said:

      This is so helpful did. Thanks for sharing about the parts – it’s so hard to know what should be going on when you have fairly severe dissociation. Last session parts were speaking and I’m going to keep going with that. It is definitely a tough road though.

      • I am glad you are letting them speak. It really is where the healing begins for them. Your courage and strength to allow that is encouraging! Hope you are doing well.

  6. Between work and Ron you sound really beaten down at the moment. I’d echo everything Q said about working with Ron. I don’t think I can add anything that would be helpful to you at the moment but I am thinking of you and hope things get a little better with more of a gap between finishing work and having your session.

    • Ellen said:

      Thanks dangerous. The gap did help.

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