Posted by Tamar on July 19, 2006, at 3:17:07
In reply to finally a response, posted by wishingstar on July 13, 2006, at 20:52:10
Sorry, I'm a bit late to this thread. And sorry you’ve been having such a hard time with therapy.
I haven’t read the whole thread because I have to go out in a minute, but what you said really spoke to me. I’ve been trying to get my therapist to hear me for months but when I tell him what I want he ignores it or dismisses it.
I thought of a few things about your situation:
1. Laurie really doesn’t know what Anne thinks or feels. I remember once I mentioned to the sex therapist I was seeing that I wanted to write a letter to my regular therapist. She said he probably wouldn’t read it because therapy needs to happen in the therapy room. As it turns out, she was wrong; I brought it up with my regular T and he said he would read a letter if I sent him one. So therapists can’t read each other’s minds any more than they can read ours. Laurie could be quite wrong about Anne’s view of the situation.
2. I hate the word ‘manipulative’. If therapists say clients are manipulative it infantilises us. I don’t think you are trying to control either of your therapists in any way. You want a particular response from them and if you don’t get it you’re trying different ways to get it. I call that tenacity, not manipulation. It indicates your commitment to the therapeutic relationship. It suggests you have a strong belief in the therapeutic alliance. It’s not a bad thing at all, in my view. The word ‘manipulative’ should be banned from therapy sessions.
3. It sounds to me that what you are looking for is validation. You want your therapists to understand just how desperately awful you feel. It seems to me that unless they’re prepared to acknowledge that you feel really terrible they can’t help you to feel better. They have to meet you where you are. I can understand that they want you to move from simply feeling awful to being able to talk about the awfulness of it… but I don’t see how they can expect you to do that unless they at least acknowledge where you’re coming from.
4. It sounds to me as if Anne has not been clear with you about her boundaries. She needs to tell you what you can reasonably expect from her if you want to contact her outside your therapy appointments. This means that she needs to have clear boundaries and be prepared to stick to them. If she doesn’t have clear boundaries, or if she has never really considered how available she is prepared to be outside your sessions, then she is doing you a disservice. And of course Laurie doesn’t know what Anne’s boundaries are, so it’s not necessarily helpful for her to tell you to wait until Friday before getting upset about the lack of a phone call. And by the way, I think Laurie needs to be clear with you about her own boundaries.
I really don’t think this is a hopeless situation. But I honestly do think that both your therapists need to be able to be very explicit with you about what they will and will not do. That in itself would help. If Anne can’t be available at the other end of a phone, she could give you a list of people you could call instead, like for example the Samaritans or any mental health help lines in your area. It’s better than nothing. I think it’s entirely reasonable for you to know how to find support outside your sessions.
So… you’re not doing it wrong. Not at all. And I think it’s great that you’re able to be so honest with your therapists. I hope they will appreciate your honesty and do whatever they can to help you to cope when you feel desperate.