Monday, November 2, 2009

Its time to have the talk...

No... not 'that' talk... at 27 years old I am pretty clued up about the birds and the bees (something about a stork and a cabbage patch, right? :P ) No, today, when I entered the therapy room, I knew something was different...that I was in for big session.

People have commented that the relationship that you have with your therapist is one of the weirdest relationships you'll have. This was not such a big deal in my previous, CBTish experiences. Although I was with the same psychiatrist for nearly 5 years, the whole relationship aspect was never too much of a big deal. But in this psychodynamic therapy it is kind of doing my head in. My previous PsychDoc (Dr B) didn't really self disclose that much about herself, I knew she had two sons who were a few years younger than me (they sometimes came to the clinic after school), I knew that she lived out of town (she explained that's why she didn't always get the best mobile reception on the weekend), other than that, I didn't know that much about her and I really wasn't that curious. No more curious than I was about say, my local GP. Sure it kind of creeped me out running into her in town on the two occasions I did, but no more than a blip of 'well that was weird'.

With new Therapist (D) I know pretty much nothing about her. I know she is probably in about her 30's. That's it. Which wouldn't be a problem, except that with this 'relational counselling' I am expected to form a therapeutic relationship with her based on trust. Trust with not just the surface type emotions, but the deep, delving into your inner psyche and unconciousness trust.

With someone I know nothing about. I don't even trust friends that I have had for over 15 years that much. I have to open myself up to be vulnerable to a complete stranger, really.

And the truth is, I do trust her. She has come through for me thus far, in basically every way I have needed her to. She sat with me for hours in an emergency room, while I was being admitted to the psych wing. But does that mean I can trust her for the future. My experience of relationships has been quite often that people who you put your faith in, whilst supportive to begin with, will eventually end up leaving you hanging, just when you have come to rely on them. And she is a professional... not a friend. Ultimately however altruistic her motives of choosing the profession are, she is being paid to help me. Thus the power balance is all screwed up... with me as the vulnerable one... her as the strong one. Me as the one who is supposed to be completely open and honest warts and all, her as the one who must constantly check with herself that everything she says is therapeutic (Unconditional Positive Regard.... there's another doozy to get your head around). Leaving me wondering, what of our interations, if anything are actually authentic.


So, we had the talk. She didn't use the word resistance.. she thinks it has negative connotations... I believe I was the one who actually labelled it for what it was. The therapeutic process is stagnating, because I am intellectuallising, holding back, trying to please her, because I am afraid if I say the wrong thing, if I am to needy a client, if I let her see the real me, then she will leave. And I'll be left again, alone, with all of this mess to sort through on my own. It's unproductive. I need to move past that block. And I guess today was the first step in really talking about it and acknowledging its existence

She told me she has every intention of sticking with me throughout this journey. I believe her. But I also no that there are no definites, things can change in the blink of an eye. she may not be able to follow through with that honest intention. She told me this is true of all relationships. I ask her how people deal with that... she said most people try not to think about it, or they go on faith that it will be ok. I asked her what you do when you've used up your life's quota of faith. She told me you mourn the loss, the knowledge that nothing is absolute. And that is what it is to be human.

Can I be human, or am I to far gone?

It was a full on session, and I'm pretty emotional tonight. But its out in the open. I'm sure this is not the last time it will rear its ugly head in this journey. But the elephant in the room was finally acknowledged.


  1. Hi, first time reader here and frankly I think it's interesting to follow your switch from CBT to psychodynamic therapy, sign of the times I guess. I was wondering though, if (D) is aware that you blog some of it? In my mind therapy is a privileged form of relationship, one in which both client and therapist engage in an in-depth reflexive process - having anonymous readers from the net (i.e. me) add their two cents changes things a bit, don't you think?

  2. I guess I can see where you are coming from with that. No, she does not know that I blog, however she does know that I often discuss whatever is brought up in the session with a few different people. I think processsing information, emotions and experiences, often requires a number of different sounding boards... and as I only see her twice a week for a finite amount of time, that processing is inevitabley going to spill over into other parts of my life. I suppose another element to consider is how wise would it be, to only rely on one persons opinion, (however informed and professional) in these matters. I think writing the blog allows me to reflectively process information that then informs and to some degree, pushes the therapeutic process forward. And as I mention in quite of a few blogs, this kind of therapeutic relationship throws out a whole lot of weird feelings, so, yes, sometimes it is good to have those feelings validated as 'normal' by others who have been through/are going through the process. Of course, I have made sure this blog is anonymous, and people don't know who I am (other than one person who I trust with that information), so they have little chance of guessing who (D) is, which preserves her right to privacy. Interesting question though. Also note, I don't get a heck of a lot of comments... sometimes feel like I'm just sending it off into outer space, and thats ok too.