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Re: Is this changing the rules? » ButterflyHigh

Posted by Tamar on September 27, 2005, at 6:57:42

In reply to Is this changing the rules?, posted by ButterflyHigh on September 27, 2005, at 1:24:08

Hmmm… I’m trying to see this from all possible angles.

Is it OK if I rephrase? It seems you feel she let you down. You’d been in therapy for 12 years and never called her, despite her assurance that you could call her whenever you needed to. And then one time when you were desperate you felt you needed her and you called her 14 times in two days. She said this was too much and you were angry so you left therapy.

Then you apologised and she was pleased to hear from you and you went back into therapy with her. One night you couldn’t sleep and took medication to help, but she called you and then called the paramedics because she thought you’d taken too much medication (or perhaps she thought you’d taken inappropriate medication). And then the same night she called you repeatedly, apparently because she was concerned about you. Your friends, and other people, thought her responses to you were inappropriate.

You felt she was experiencing countertransference; she neither confirmed nor denied your suspicions but she did say she believed she was owning her feelings.

Is that about right? I just wanted to be sure I understood correctly.

From your point of view, I can see why you would be angry. I can see that you might feel the rules and the boundaries are unclear. And I think it’s her job to make sure you know what the rules and the boundaries are. There seems to have been a bit of a discrepancy between your expectations and hers, and I think it would be wise to clarify things with her. Are you allowed to contact her outside of therapy? Can you call her only during the working day, or can you call her evenings and weekends? She needs to be clear about what the rules are so that you can respect those rules.

From her point of view, I can imagine that receiving 14 phone calls in two days might have been a bit overwhelming, especially when you’d never called her before in 12 years. Perhaps that wasn’t what she was expecting when she told you that you could call her whenever you need to. If that’s the case, perhaps she needs to be clear about when you can call, or how often.

How long is it since you went back to therapy with her? It sounds as if your break from therapy is still an important issue for you, and probably one that you might discuss with her.

It sounds to me as if she has a genuine concern for you. I don’t know about whether she’s experiencing countertransference but if you’ve raised the possibility I’m sure she will think about it (even if she doesn’t discuss it with you or acknowledge it to you). If she is indeed experiencing countertransference, I imagine she will seek consultation with a colleague if she’s a good therapist.

But there’s also a possibility that you are experiencing a transference reaction, independent of any countertransference on her part. I wonder if that’s something worth exploring in therapy. I think situations that lead to feelings of anger can be quite useful (if difficult to handle) in therapy, because so often there can be transference reactions involved. And even if your anger is justified to some extent, it can be a useful means of moving forward, though it does take quite a bit of bravery to face it.

I hope that’s a little helpful. Let me know if I’ve misunderstood anything and I’ll have another think about it.





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