Posted by Penny on May 5, 2004, at 9:01:47
In reply to What happened today (very long), posted by crushedout on May 4, 2004, at 18:21:30
I'm so sorry you are having to deal with all of this.
My thoughts are that Ellen is taking your SI personally, which is never the way a T should take anything in a therapeutic relationship. Whether you're cutting "because" of her or not, she should be trying to remain non-judgemental - but it doesn't sound as though she is able to do this.
Did she actually use the word "stupid"?
Her actions during the session and her email to you sounds as though she is trying to make you feel bad. And that, under no circumstances, is acceptable, Crushed. That is not helpful - it is counterproductive. You were being honest with her, and she reacted to your honesty as though it was something personal. And while it might be personal *to you*, it shouldn't be personal (in that way) *to her*.
I've discussed with my T how I imagine therapists must view their clients. I used to mentor a little boy, and I cared a great deal about him. I didn't love him, however (though one could say this was mere semantics, as I suppose 'caring' is a form of love). But I cared about his well-being and so on. Ours was a therapeutic relationship of sorts, but I was on the 'provider' end in this case. And I never in a million years would have taken something he said to me personally - what I mean is that I expected him to express anger (he was a very troubled child) and I expected to be the recipient of some of that anger, and, even if he accused me of acting a certain (negative) way toward him, I had to take a more rational and non-emotional approach. Not that I wouldn't express caring toward him, but I wouldn't allow my own feelings (my desire to be 'liked', for example, or my desire to succeed) to largely influence my reaction toward his behavior or words.
I guess what I'm saying is that therapists should do the same thing. I can't say "in all cases" b/c every situation is different. But, for all intensive purposes, a T should be able to recognize when he/she is experiencing a particular strong reaction to a client (as with Ellen saying she was not open at the end of the session to noticing you had made progress, or with saying that your letting her know that she was harming you was maddening to her), and use that TO THE CLIENT'S ADVANTAGE. However, telling you that she found it maddening or that she was not open to noticing your progress is not helpful to you. That is something that would be better discussed in her own personal therapy, or with a supervisor.
She really sounds too close to the situation, Crushed, and as though she has lost her objectivity. I can't imagine that any T could remain 100% objective and rational about all clients at all times in any case, but, again, they should be able to recognize when countertransference is occuring (which is what this sounds like) and deal with that OUTSIDE of your therapy.
I think the quote you sent her from the SI website was right on the money. I discussed SI with my T last night, and she agreed that, yes, if therapy was indeed harmful to the client, then it is the therapist's responsibility to refer that client to another therapist. It is unethical for them to not do so. But SI on the part of the client is something that should be looked at as a way of getting to the root of a deeper issue. And SI alone isn't enough to justify a therapist referring a client on.
I can't say what you should do, Crushed, just that I hope you are able to find a solution of sorts to this that won't cause more harm to you than you've already experienced.
Know that you are a wonderful person, Crushed. You deserve a therapist who will help you through your problems, not create more.