Psycho-Babble Psychology Thread 481822

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bad outcome - please help!

Posted by octavia on April 8, 2005, at 21:10:17

Hi,

I hope I'm posting in the right place.

Thanks in advance for reading this. I've been very sad about my situation for a long time and I'd really appreciate your perspectives. I don't really know many people who've had therapy. Most people are empathetic but they kind of don't understand how important the therapeutic relationship is. They don't understand when something goes bad in therapy it can be really painful.

My apologies if this turns out to be an incoherent jumble. I'll try to be as concise as possible...

Starting about six years ago, I saw a pdoc once a month for medication management to treat major depressive disorder. He's about 60 and I'm in my thirties and female. Then almost 2 years ago I became suicidal. We made changes in my medication and I started therapy with him, initially once a week but by the end I was going [or not going but I'll get to that] 3 times a week.

At first therapy was very, very difficult. I'd never had therapy before and I didn't know what to expect and found talking about myself awkward. Over time, though, I thought we had built a wonderful rapport. There were small bumps here and there but over all I came to feel for him as I feel for my closest friends. I've read plenty about transference and I don't think there was much maternal or paternal transference there. I was abundantly aware that I was seeing a narrow slice of who he is, but the slice that I saw I liked very much. Once in a while I'd arrive early and sit in the hall and he'd come out of his office to go to the mailboxes. I would invariably see him before he would see me and he'd sometimes look sad. Then when I'd smile at him he'd give me a big smile back. I'd watch him out of the corner of my eye and he'd smile all the way to the mailboxes and all the way back to his office. I actually said to myself, "Maybe he's happy to see me too!" That's not like me - I don't readily think that I have any effect on people.

About 9 months ago things started to go funny. He'd have bouts of yawning [for example, 70% of sessions for about a month]. It hurt my feelings but I wasn't sure what to say, especially since it may have had nothing to do with me. The last period of yawning I finally said to him, "Ok, you've been yawning a lot lately AGAIN. I guess I'm boring you." He said, "Yes. Let me explain something. Sometimes people feel anxious and they are subconsciously suppressing thoughts that are more exciting than what's going on currently they get bored. Oh I see time is up." Holy cow. I staggered out of there not knowing which end was up. So he's thinking exciting thoughts. I didn't know quite how to bring it up again.

The topic of love was not comfortable either. I rarely brought it up. When I did, within a few minutes he'd be fighting to stay awake. That never happened at any other time. I called him on it the last time it happened. He just said, "I didn't know I was doing that. Why do you suppose I'm having that reaction?" I said, "I don't know but it hurts my feelings." He smiled but looked puzzled. Again it just happens to be the end of the session and he says, "Time's up." I didn't know quite how to bring it up again at the next session. Certain topics started to feel off-limits. His reactions started to feel unavailable for discussion.

Then not long after that I went on vacation. I was at the door saying "good-bye" and I didn't even get to the "bye" before he shut the door in my face. He knew I was speaking to him because he had just been looking me in the eye. I tried to blow it off.

Once I returned he started canceling my appointments without rescheduling. I had one evening appointment and two daytime appointments each week. He usually axed the evening appointment. His excuse was that he had to work on his consulting projects [he sees patients plus does consulting so on fairly rare occasions we'd have to reschedule or skip one appointment]. For the last 2 months I was there he cancelled about 30% of my appointments without making an effort to reschedule them. I felt completely unimportant.

The last week went something like this:
We had an argument [the only argument we'd ever had] about all the missed appointments. His answer was, "You know I do consulting work." Not acceptable in my view and I told him I was going to look for another MD. But then by the end of the session we had sort of patched it up. The following night he called and canceled my next appointment with apologies. Then the following day called and said that the time conflict had cleared and the appointment was on if I still wanted it. I left him a message saying, "I can't come." I arrived for my last appointment of the week on time but hopping mad. I sat for 7 minutes in the waiting room, during which time I could hear him taping up boxes in his office. I snapped inside. I got up and left. He leaves a message, "I thought you were here. Call me." I was so angry I didn't call. The following Monday morning, without giving me a chance to respond he leaves a message to the effect that he's going on a week-long vacation in 4 days [He NEVER told me about this vacation] and if he didn't hear from me before he left that he'd assume I wasn't coming back. I was so hurt and angry I couldn't call. That's it. The end.

It's been quite a while and I'm still hurt and confused and angry. It's a lot like heartbreak. It's that bad and it just doesn't seem to get any better. I was so very fond of him and I miss him terribly. I'm also incredibly angry.

I'm left with so many questions. Did he only pretend to like me/care about me? Why did he give me an ultimatum at the end? This can't be a normal termination, right? Has this had any effect on him at all? Do I try talk to him? I feel lost.

Thank you thank you thank you for reading this. I'm sorry it's so long. I'm not usually this wordy but I guess I just had to get it out. If you have any thoughts I'd be grateful if you shared them.

 

Re: bad outcome - please help!

Posted by happyflower on April 8, 2005, at 21:22:59

In reply to bad outcome - please help!, posted by octavia on April 8, 2005, at 21:10:17

Wow, this T needs a vacation or a kick in the pants. I am new to therpy but I wouldn't put up with that treatment. . This guy seems like is totally burned out. His treatment of you is totally uncalled for and unprofessional. Would you consider seeing someone else? They could also help you deal with these emotions. I hope you the best. I hope someone else here can offer you more help, since I am rather new to therpy.

 

Re: bad outcome - please help!

Posted by fallsfall on April 8, 2005, at 21:36:15

In reply to bad outcome - please help!, posted by octavia on April 8, 2005, at 21:10:17

Yes, this is the right place. I wish I could respond to your entire post, but for now, let me just make two points.

> About 9 months ago things started to go funny. He'd have bouts of yawning [for example, 70% of sessions for about a month]. It hurt my feelings but I wasn't sure what to say, especially since it may have had nothing to do with me. The last period of yawning I finally said to him, "Ok, you've been yawning a lot lately AGAIN. I guess I'm boring you." He said, "Yes. Let me explain something. Sometimes people feel anxious and they are subconsciously suppressing thoughts that are more exciting than what's going on currently they get bored. Oh I see time is up." Holy cow. I staggered out of there not knowing which end was up. So he's thinking exciting thoughts. I didn't know quite how to bring it up again.
>
I think that he might have been saying that *you* were the one with the exciting thoughts that you weren't talking about. I seem to remember reading that therapists can get bored when their patients are being (consciously or unconsciously) resistant. He obviously didn't explain it well to you...

This sounds like the kind of situation where you need to sit down and talk to him about how this is affecting you. Bring in your post and read it to him. I know it is *SO* hard to bring these things up, but that is the only way that you will find out what his side of the story really is. That is the only way you can figure out how much of what you are feeling is realistic, and how much might be colored by your past.

It sounds like you really want this therapy to work. So fight for it. Don't let it just peter out. If he doesn't have time or effort for you, you need to know that and find someone who does. If you (like me...), however, tend to read things into situations when they really aren't there - he can help you sort that out.

It is hard to have these discussions, but in my experience, it is really worthwhile.

Good luck.

 

Re: bad outcome - please help!

Posted by Susan47 on April 8, 2005, at 22:09:53

In reply to Re: bad outcome - please help!, posted by fallsfall on April 8, 2005, at 21:36:15

Yes it sounds like this therapist is being dishonest with you. I don't know what goes through their heads sometimes; give him a kick in the pants but don't be left holding the emotional baggage of this. You can't afford it. He can. Let him hold the crap; he's dishing it out.

 

Re: bad outcome - please help! octavia

Posted by Dinah on April 8, 2005, at 22:26:45

In reply to bad outcome - please help!, posted by octavia on April 8, 2005, at 21:10:17

My experience has been along the lines of Fallsfalls. Earlier in my therapy, I probably made a lot of guesses as to what was going on, and my guesses probably were of the worst case variety.

I've found it really useful to hash these things out with my therapist (and mine actually nodded off once or twice). We had some major dustups, but it led to a stronger relationship overall.

If you think the relationship is worth fighting for, you might have to take the initiative by making yourself vulnerable to him. And sharing with him things like you shared in your post.

If there isn't enough good in the relationship to make that worthwhile, then it's completely different.

 

Re: bad outcome - please help! octavia

Posted by Pfinstegg on April 9, 2005, at 0:23:37

In reply to bad outcome - please help!, posted by octavia on April 8, 2005, at 21:10:17

To be brief, I think he did a terrible job of handling his countertransference. We'll never know for sure what the main elements of it actually were, but, just guessing, I think he got to like you a lot, and wasn't able to work it through in a professional manner.

I'm very sorry this happened to you, and that you got hurt so badly, because you seem to have started out in such a good way, gradually deepening your confidence and trust in him, and learning how to be open about yourself. All those cancelled appointments, and announcing a vacation at the last minute are extremely unprofessional behaviors on his part. Maybe he doesn't do a lot of psychotherapy, and doesn't know how!

Trust your instincts. If you feel something is really wrong, it is. There are a lot of wonderful therapists out there with great experience, and skill in handling all the vicissitudes of transference and countertransference, who can help people really heal and feel better. You deserve one of those. You could interview several, and choose.

 

Re: bad outcome - please help!

Posted by Shortelise on April 9, 2005, at 0:33:12

In reply to bad outcome - please help!, posted by octavia on April 8, 2005, at 21:10:17

Therapy is more about how we react than it is about what the therapist actually does. That's not completely true, but close enough for late at night.

Could it be you are in a place where you neeed to explore strong feelings - no matter what aspect of your therapy brought them out? With me once it was the fact that my T didn't help me with the door when my hands were full. But lots of us get to places where we have this very strong, potent, flammable stuff we have to fight out. We use therapy to do so, because that's one of the things it's for. The therapist is there to be the focus of our anger and to help us figure out the real reasons for it, the true focus.

My husband and I made a promise a long time ago that we would never threaten each other with divorce. If'n I were in your shoes - and I'm not! - I would call and go back to see him. I would ask for the same sort of deal I made with my husband - get as mad as you want, but let's agree that we'll always work it through together.

Octavia, I know you must really be hurting. I would be so so upset if this were me! I'm sorry. I hope you'll phone him, talk with him before he goes away, get this resolved to some extent so you don't have to stew in these awful feelings.

Hugs

ShortE

 

Octavia?

Posted by Shortelise on April 9, 2005, at 13:16:31

In reply to bad outcome - please help!, posted by octavia on April 8, 2005, at 21:10:17

Are you ok?

 

thank you

Posted by octavia on April 9, 2005, at 19:24:07

In reply to Octavia?, posted by Shortelise on April 9, 2005, at 13:16:31

Thank you all for responding. I'm sorry I disappeared but I fell into a very depressed state after writing that. Please accept my apologies. I appreciate your replies.

In my fuzzy mental state I didn't make clear when this all transpired. His leaving me the message that he was going on vacation and if he didn't hear from me within those 4 days he'd assume I wasn't comming back happened many, many weeks ago. That was the last I heard from him. I was so hurt and angry I never replied. So it's been a few months now that there has been absolutely no communication between us. For all he knows I've long since hung myself.

He's had over 30 years of therapy experience and I've seen him do what it takes to maintain the "therapeutic frame." He knows exactly what to do. Why he stopped doing it with me was sort of shocking.

It's really a total loss.

Here come the tears yet again.... Thank you again everyone or offering your support. It's been helpful.

 

Re: thank you

Posted by annierose on April 9, 2005, at 20:37:55

In reply to thank you, posted by octavia on April 9, 2005, at 19:24:07

Your story is truly sad. I hope you can find the strength to talk to someone else to help you sort through all your feelings. It is not your fault.

Something happened and you'll probably never find out what. But it's not you. Have you considered talking to a therapist?

-Annierose

 

Re: thank you octavia

Posted by Shortelise on April 9, 2005, at 22:30:47

In reply to thank you, posted by octavia on April 9, 2005, at 19:24:07

Oh, Octavia, I'm so sorry. That is a bad place to leave a close relationship, be it a therapeutic one or otherwise.

If a T finds he takes a dislike to a client, he must refer that client on. If he falls in love, same thing. If he is diagnosed with incurable deafness, same thing. He has to refer the client on, not leave her hanging in limbo as he's done you.

It is very important that T's not re-traumatize their patients. But you sound kind of traumatized to me... but what do I know? I'd talk with someone else if it were me. If you were feeling better and better about it, it wouldn't matter, but it's still terribly painful, it's interfering with your life, and you seem not to have been able to process it on your own. Those are really good reasons to find someone to help you process it.

What do you think?


ShortE

 

Re: thank you octavia

Posted by mair on April 10, 2005, at 10:40:21

In reply to thank you, posted by octavia on April 9, 2005, at 19:24:07

I really agree with ShortE. I got really angry with a T once and while I kept seeing him (he was also my pdoc) he never treated me quite the same after that, and he never encouraged me to process my anger. I don't ever recall talking to him about it except to apologize.

Years later, I've discovered how much all of that bothered me. I've discussed it with my current T a number of times - in fact almost every time I run into my ex-T. My current T has helped me to sometimes accept that it wasn't my fault and that my T surely should have helped me/pressured me to process what was going on. You sound as if you are in so much pain. She's also pointed out that the whole incident sent me the very dangerous message that it wasn't ok to express my anger to someone who's hurt me. I think this pdoc hurt you by his own failings and you need to find a way for it not to torment you as much. The passage of time never made the hurt go away for me; it just postponed any hope I had of closure.

I hope you can find someone to help you with this.

Please keep posting.

mair

 

Off the topic Shortelise

Posted by Dinah on April 11, 2005, at 20:57:01

In reply to Re: bad outcome - please help!, posted by Shortelise on April 9, 2005, at 0:33:12

In several posts lately, I've been impressed with your relationship skills. I just wanted to tell you that. I think the people in your life are probably pretty lucky.

 

Re: Off the topic Dinah

Posted by Shortelise on April 12, 2005, at 1:48:06

In reply to Off the topic Shortelise, posted by Dinah on April 11, 2005, at 20:57:01

Thank you, Dinah. It's so kind of you to say this. It matters a lot to me.

ShortE


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