Posted by spoc on May 9, 2004, at 13:44:25
In reply to Re: On the other hand » spoc, posted by Dinah on May 8, 2004, at 21:26:20
> I suspect that the people who do best with "direct, no nonsense" therapists are those who are a bit analytical and think of therapist as a teacher of skills, or who pride themselves on the same qualities and like it in others.
> I always walk out on them.
> An overly nurturing therapist might scare half to death a client who hasn't had much experience with nurturing, as well.
> I don't like overly nurturing therapists either. They scare me. <
<<<<<< I see what you mean about possibly being overwhelmed by too much nurturing. I can be very uncomfortable with that, even coming from those I know well. I guess what I would have considered the right amount of nurturing for me would just be a foundation that people become who they are for many reasons, including chemical and environmental influences; that it isn't ALL due to choice or poor character.
Because I tend to feel like I chose everything about how I am, including to be depressed, lethargic, inconsistent, obsessive compulsive, etc. And, to believe that I've proven conclusively by now that I am not going to fix it, so time's up -- as a matter of honor and realism, not emotion. Have you ever seen the movie "G'night Mother" with Sissy Spacek and Anne Bancroft (don't, if you haven't)? Different issues, but that's the kind of 'no nonsense' thinking I tend towards.
Anyway, I would have thought I could relate well on the direct, no-nonsense therapy level. But my experience with it didn't pan out that way. I had wanted our approach on how I should proceed to be no-nonsense in the sense that we would spend more time with goal-setting and figuring out what works for me than with me being "validated" over any past miseries. But it ended up feeling like what was nonsense was me. Following are some examples I could really use feedback on.
When I came to him, I told him that BY FAR the biggest problem and phobia I have developed as a ramification of my problems is my stark terror of getting a new job. I've worked at home for most of the last eight years, and desperately need to get a different job for financial, structural and isolation-reducing reasons. But this will be likely to put me back in an office environment, which has always been a huge problem for me due to my insecurity, OCD, insomnia, frequently not feeling well, and inability to face people on many days.
And for whatever reason, I have never even come close to identifying what it is I would be good at in a career. All of the above, and the havoc it's wreaked in all kinds of other aspects of my life, was THE reason I finally sought help. It was no small fear or annoyance we were talking about addressing here, but the crisis of my lifetime (I don't have marriage or kids or the other things that may fulfill people, instead of or in addition to a career). And overall, for most of the last 1.5 years I had begun living like a shut-in, and had lost interest in absolutely everything.
Examples of the no-nonsense in this doc's therapy, which ensued after very little time spent on getting to know me and my history/tendencies:
After about three weeks I came in one day and said I was feeling so encouraged just by the fact that I had finally committed to therapy and things might get better, that I had ACTUALLY considered going to an art museum one day instead of just getting on the Internet and laying around in my pajamas. Sounds pathetic, but for me it was one of those baby steps, the fact that I had actually felt INTEREST in something -- and a healthy, mind-nurturing thing at that -- had felt like progress, and I presented it that way.
He said: Wouldn't it be better to use that enthusiasm to start looking for another job?
Is it just me, or was that a little premature to suggest to someone who is even having trouble leaving the house and grooming? And who came to you to help overcome a life-long phobia, that for eight years straight now has absolutely festered due to working at home?
Then, he asked me, "Let's clarify something. DO you *have* to work?"
I immediately said "OF COURSE!" taking not only financial well-being into consideration but also emotional. Then, being one to look at questions from all sides and address the literal interpretation as well, I added "...now, if you mean will I end up living under a BRIDGE if I don't work, no. My family would want to help, but I have NEVER thought of that as a viable option." That is EXACTLY how I put it, and exactly how I felt about it.
He said: "Manipulation is a skill you can put to good use, you know."
Also, I had told him that in past office jobs I've sometimes had humiliating problems with completely breaking down when trying to confront or clear up any matter, even of a pretty routine nature. I'd have anxiety attacks and hyperventilate, shake, cry/gasp, forget what I was going to say.
So, he asked me what I thought it would take to make me feel comfortable in a job. I said, "I often jump into ill-suited or menial jobs due to not knowing what I am good at, which exacerbates my insecurities and being intimidated by strong, assertive people. And then, I am not even good at the menial job I can't stand. So. I think I could hold my head up more consistently and not take everything so personally if I was actually doing something I knew I was good at, and could instead focus on knowing I was making a contribution, despite my shortcomings."
That is what I believe in my heart, and is it not also pretty much just common sense? I was leading into what I thought could be a very productive and achieveable goal, which would be for us to determine that some kind of career testing would be a logical next step.
But he said: "You can't walk in and start at the top, you know."
I thought that was just useless, and was just more hunting only for negatives, and ones that weren't even there. I had never made any statements to indicate that I was interested in power, luxury or notoriety, because all of those things pretty much repel me. Nor, to indicate that I had a big ego and didn't think I should have to be bothered with working myself up through the ranks like other humans. If he was going to say anything at all, it wouldn't have been inappropriate for it to be along the lines of trying to have faith that maybe you'll find you are capable of accomplishing more than you think you are, or may have interests you didn't know you did.
That last one was pretty much the final straw. I saw it all as signs that he had put me in some particular box early on, that I knew did not fit. But I let him get me to keep coming back for weeks just to disagree about whether his was the best approach for me. Like I mentioned, I hadn't even known I was in analysis rather than some "regular" kind of talk therapy.
I told him that by no means had I EVER wanted to avoid looking at possible negatives (and I was excellent at suggesting them myself), but where exactly had his originated from? No answer at all. Tell me a single positive thing you have ever balanced the negative out with (because other than these comments, there was virtual silence from him at all times)? "Uh... I've laughed at your sense of humor sometimes, haven't I?" Tell me a single suggestion you've ever made, or even validation you've given to my own suggestions or perceptions of what my needs and problems are? "I'll have to think about it and tell you next time." (I did ask again with every next time, but that would again turn into "I'll answer you next time." (It was actually then that he also admitted his memory for detail wasn't very good!)
Finally after weeks of no direct answers, he said he had merely been trying out a variety of possibilities, but that none of them had ended up fitting. I asked where the "variety" was, I saw only one theme. No answer. And I also asked why he hadn't told me weeks ago -- when I first starting getting upset and first started asking him to explain any comments I didn't understand -- that the obvious roads he had gone down hadn't "seemed to fit." The answer? "What's important here is WHY IT MATTERS TO YOU what I think." (Uh, because I've made a huge emotional and financial investment in your guidance maybe??? Who *should* get the feedback from you if not me, my parents or your racquetball partner?? No, btw, I never actually spoke that way!)
Sorry, I didn't mean to get into all that. But I would really like to hear any opinions on whether it was just me, or if this kind of thing would offend just about anyone (for whom it wasn't accurate). I feel much worse now than when I went in, and it's not the "healthy" kind of feeling bad. Credentialed "experts" hold a lot of emotional power over the down and out and vulnerable.
> This was actually the sort of thing I was talking about on my thread about therapist fit. <
<<<<<< I'm glad you mentioned that -- I will go read it. I often forget that it could help me a lot to read the Psych board, even though I am not currently in therapy. Even *especially* because I'm not, but need to!
> I also kind of wonder if there isn't a geographic/cultural component, although I don't like to stereotype. East coast, west coast, south, north. I wonder if it makes a difference as to preferred style? <
<<<<< That *is* interesting; I've never thought about it before either. It does seem logical that those would be factors sometimes...
Oh, btw, happy Mother's Day to all applicable Babblers! :- )