Psycho-Babble Psychology Thread 325994

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Couples therapy -- therapist likes my partner more

Posted by bookgurl99 on March 19, 2004, at 10:21:39

Hey,

So, I've been to 3 couples therapy sessions with my girlfriend.

I was initially impressed with the professionalism of the therapist, but I'm feeling like she likes my girlfriend and cares more about her issues than she likes me or cares about mine.

The first session, we set up what we wanted to discuss. My gf wanted us work on neatness issues and living well together. My goal was for us to have sex more often, and for the two of us to communicate about her sexual abuse issues.

So far, 2 of the 3 sessions seem to largely focus on what my girlfriend needs. We've hardly discussed what I needed to discuss.

I have a feeling that the therapist is more "impressed" with my gf's career achievements and how she seems. The therapist doesn't know about my past accomplishments -- creating a creative writing scholarship, working as an Americorps VISTA for a year, getting published -- only about my currently unimpressive job and that I'm a messy person. Plus, while my gf stays thin easily, I have hypothyroidism and am quite overweight at the moment. She's simply cuter than me. Given these factors, I feel like the therapist probably views me as a lazyass -- which is the last thing I am.

Meanwhile, my girlfriend lost a job as the head of a nonprofit group last year and has really struggled with it. She has a degree. The therapist really lights up when my gf talks, probably because she can relate to her as a 'professional,' and sees me as a loser leech girlfriend.

Of the two sessions, one was mostly about my gf's career issues and how she can attend counseling to help narrow down her goals. We also talked about neatness a bit. The second one was more of the same, with a little more empahsis on my messiness.

When we finally discussed intimacy issues -- in the last 5 minutes of session 3 -- I felt brushed off. For example, the therapist asked how things are going in the intimacy dept. I said, "Well, there's been more of it." The therapist said "good!" and I said, "But -- " meaning to elaborate, and the therapist cut me off with "Let's take the good with the good." I just swallowed my words.

I feel like this is going to keep going this way -- with the therapist assuming that I'm the bad guy and minimizing my concerns due to my lesser level of career achievement.

We made an appt. for session 4, and I want to go. But what do I do about these feelings? Does everyone feel this way in couples therapy?

 

Re: Couples therapy -- therapist likes my partner more bookgurl99

Posted by tinydancer on March 19, 2004, at 10:52:40

In reply to Couples therapy -- therapist likes my partner more, posted by bookgurl99 on March 19, 2004, at 10:21:39

In my experience, couples therapy has been a total and utter disaster. I honestly believe that individual therapy is much more beneficial.

If you don't feel you can discuss these feelings with your partner or your T, then I can't really see how couples therapy is going to be beneficial to you. I personally think the idea of going individually and first working out your own personal issues, allows you to be free of those and open to working with relationship issues later on.

I just think that couples therapy doesn't work for everyone-that doesn't mean I think you should give up, but I also don't think you should do it without clear goals in mind and a sense of trust and confidence in your therapist in how they can help you.

 

Re: Couples therapy -- therapist likes my partner more bookgurl99

Posted by Dinah on March 19, 2004, at 11:06:52

In reply to Couples therapy -- therapist likes my partner more, posted by bookgurl99 on March 19, 2004, at 10:21:39

Bookgurl, will you snap my head off if I say I think it's at least possible that there is some projection in your thoughts? I hate those psych-jargon words too, so I understand if you're annoyed.

If I understand you correctly, you're afraid your therapist thinks less of you because you're not as thin as you'd like to be and you don't have a degree. And you think she isn't attending to your concerns as much because of her identification with your degreed and "cuter" partner.

Is there any part of you, even the smallest part of you, that thinks less of yourself because you don't have a degree and you aren't thin? Even though you know you've accomplished plenty and you are being too hard on yourself and that thinness and a degree have nothing whatsoever to do with a person's worth as a partner or human being. If there's any part of you that feels that way, you're probably more likely to think your therapist feels that way.

And if you're at all defensive about how she feels about you, she's more likely to feel negatively about you, and the whole cycle gets repeated.

So, my advice is what my advice always is. :) Talk to your therapist about your perceptions. Admit to the possibility that your perceptions might be wrong, and do the whole thing as nonjudgmentally as possible. It may be that you're right in your assessment of the situation. Or it may be that you're not right. But either way, discussing it might push you past the roadblock.

And don't forget the fact that therapists are often reluctant to urge someone who was sexually abused to be more sexually active. That might be part of the dynamic. You really might need a regular couples therapist for some of your problems and a sex therapist who's familiar with treating those who have been sexually abused for other of your problems.

 

Re: Couples therapy -- therapist likes my partner more bookgurl99

Posted by fallsfall on March 19, 2004, at 15:24:48

In reply to Couples therapy -- therapist likes my partner more, posted by bookgurl99 on March 19, 2004, at 10:21:39

I agree with Dinah that the first step is to talk about how you are feeling about the therapy in general. Ask the therapist if there is a reason that your issues have only had 5 minutes in 3 sessions. Maybe there is a reason (I have no idea)? If there isn't a reason, then what you have done is to stick up for yourself and ask for what you need. That is a good thing.

Is there a way that you can arrange to be the first to speak at the next session (would your GF agree to that?). That way your concerns wouldn't be "interrupting" anything, and they might get more attention.

You have always seemed to me to be able to be straightforward and honest. I think this is a good time to show those qualities to your therapist.

 

Re: Couples therapy -- therapist likes my partner more Dinah

Posted by Bookgurl99 on March 19, 2004, at 15:26:19

In reply to Re: Couples therapy -- therapist likes my partner more bookgurl99, posted by Dinah on March 19, 2004, at 11:06:52

Hey Dinah --

I'm sure that some of this _is_ my own perception. And I think I get jealous that older women almost always give my girlfriend more attention and in a way view her as having more legitimacy than me.

It doesn't help that I have an old friend staying with me who has been putting me down left and right -- any mistake I've made, or thing I've done that _he_ thinks was a mistake, has to come out. Because _he_ feels bad about himself. But it's really dragging me down. I probably brought that with me into therapy.


> So, my advice is what my advice always is. :) Talk to your therapist about your perceptions.

I am _so_ scared to do this. What if she just dislikes me more?

> And don't forget the fact that therapists are often reluctant to urge someone who was sexually abused to be more sexually active.

Yeah, what the f*** is this all about? In any other form of disorder -- anxiety,depression, OCD -- we're urged to become more 'normal.' Agoraphobics are taught step-by-step to venture further out into the world. But someone who's essentially sex-phobic due to a bad experience is just supposed to be given carte blanche to initiate intimate relationships, expect commitment, and leave a partner perpetually frustrated.

>You really might need a regular couples therapist for some of your problems and a sex therapist who's familiar with treating those who have been sexually abused for other of your problems.

She does specialize in sexual abuse; that's why we picked her. Is it possible that she's trying to develop my gf's trust by bringing up the 'safe' issues first?

 

Re: Couples therapy -- therapist likes my partner more Dinah

Posted by All Done on March 19, 2004, at 15:35:07

In reply to Re: Couples therapy -- therapist likes my partner more bookgurl99, posted by Dinah on March 19, 2004, at 11:06:52

bookgurl,

I'm with Dinah on this one. (Surprise, surprise. I like Dinah. She's a good egg :).) Talk to your couple's therapist about what you're feeling. My husband and I have been going for a few months now (only every 2-3 weeks, though). During some of the earlier sessions, I felt like they were both being pretty hard on me. I did discuss it with my individual T because I thought perhaps I was just on therapy overload, so to speak. I was felt like my thoughts were being analyzed at every turn, by me, my husband, my T, and our couple's therapist. I tend to be pretty hard on myself and maybe it was just a bit too much "thinking" for me. Anyway, he suggested that I let the couple's therapist know how I was feeling. So, in the third session, I did and she said she appreciated me telling her and that, yes, sometimes in couple's therapy, it can feel very one-sided, but she would be aware of how I was feeling. There has only been one session since then, but it did feel better.

That said, the jury is still out. I have to give it some more time, but I feel that if a therapist doesn't seem to be working for both individuals involved, there are plenty of other therapists out there to shop around. It's such a fine line, though. Since there are two people involved with two distinct personalities, backgrounds, opinions, etc., it might be difficult to come to a true consensus when selecting a couple's therapist. There has to be a compromise on the qualities we are searching for and the priority of those qualities.

In any event, keep trying and good luck!

All Done

 

Re: Couples therapy -- therapist likes my partner more Bookgurl99

Posted by Dinah on March 19, 2004, at 16:07:41

In reply to Re: Couples therapy -- therapist likes my partner more Dinah, posted by Bookgurl99 on March 19, 2004, at 15:26:19

That seems possible. But it's just as likely not to be true. No way of knowing until you ask. (It all gets back to that darn talking to the therapist.)


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