Psycho-Babble Psychology | about psychological treatments | Framed
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The Rest of the Story (long)

Posted by fallsfall on April 7, 2004, at 12:19:41

In reply to Re: had therapy today it was so painful fallsfall, posted by crushedout on April 7, 2004, at 9:26:43

OK, you asked for it...

My therapy started with a dependency issue that I had with my best friend. My therapist helped me live through breaking up with my friend, and I developed a dependence on her (and, gee, I'm still battling dependency issues...). We went through 7 years of positive-feeling therapy. She does CBT, and I learned a lot about psychology and coping skills, and how to let someone take care of me, and that I had limits and couldn't do everything that I wanted to do. That was a lot of learning.

About 6 years into the therapy I was doing well enough to return to a full time job in my field (Computer Science). I was still depressed, but I was functioning.

7 years into therapy there was a time when I was feeling unstable, I was probably seeing her every other week at this point. For some reason, there was more stress than usual, and I felt that I "needed" her. I needed her strength to help me through this period. Since so much of our work had revolved around dependency, she tried to discourage me from calling between sessions - she believed that if I HAD to handle things on my own that I WOULD handle them, and then I would believe more in my ABILITY to handle them. So I was sitting at work one day, missing her - needing her - needing a connection to her. So, I googled her. She is a fairly technologically savy therapist, and is involved with some national committees. I also looked outside of Google, to some resources that I had (which I had done nothing special to obtain). I ended up with her married name, address, phone number, husband and children's names, and her AOL screen name. I put her on my AOL buddy list and watched when she went online and when she signed off. The next time I saw her I confessed almost all (I never did tell her about the other resources and how I used them, she still doesn't know how I found her address etc.). She was quite upset. We talked about what her boundaries were (if I had gone to her house, contacted her family, phoned her house, emailed her - those would be violating her boundaries. I did none of those. Watching her on my buddy list was getting close to the edge). She said she had to think about it for a week, and discuss it with my Pdoc (whose office is across the hall). She came back the next week and said that we could still work together, that I hadn't violated her boundaries. I was incredibly relieved.

My job lasted for another year past then, before I crashed again and went back out on disability.

A month after I went back out on disability there was a snowstorm the day of my appointment. I really needed the appointment that day, and though neither she nor I had ever cancelled due to the weather I started panicking that I wouldn't see her. I googled her again, and read an article that quoted her, and one that she had written. There was a committee list, and her name was a link - so I clicked on it. What I really was looking for was a picture. But it was email (the same AOL address I found before) - as soon as I saw that I closed everything down and knew that I had to stop. I did see her later that morning, and I told her exactly what I had done. My need to Google her was a symptom of what we were trying to work on - I thought she needed to know.

She was angry. She told me that she wasn't angry (again, I had NOT violated her boundaries), but I could tell that she was. She said that she thought that it wasn't a problem, but that she would tell me for sure the next week. The next week she said it was OK, that we could keep working together, but I felt that she was still angry. She denied being angry (after all, there was no logical reason for her to BE angry, I didn't violate her boundaries). Three weeks after the snowstorm she admitted to me that she was angry.

I spent the next month or so trying to show her that I was working hard, trying to give her some satisfaction in her job, trying to make it up to her. I felt like I was doing all the work. Nothing I did seemed to be any good. If I suggested something she would agree, but then wouldn't help me to do it - it seemed like she was still mad at me. So I tried harder. This was called "frantic efforts to avoid abandonment". I believed that she was mad, and that I had to be "a better patient" to get back in her good graces. I was panicked so much that I went to see an old group therapist of mine (without telling my therapist). The group therapist was able to calm me down a little and told me that therapy relationships can get rocky, but that often they can be worked through. I did then tell my therapist that I had been to see her (she didn't have a problem with me going to see the group therapist, at least she said that it was OK). A month later, she talked about my case with her supervision group. They recommended a 3 month trial. That if I was still as unstable in 3 months (I interpretted this to mean that if I was still in so much pain - from feeling that I was failing her all the time), that she should terminate me. I had to agree that if I were in that much pain for the 4 months so far, plus 3 more, that I clearly would AGREE to change therapists. They suggested that if I was doing better (I think that she interpretted this to mean less dependent), that we should reduce sessions to every other week. Reducing sessions has always been incredibly painful for me.

So I tried to come up with a plan that would reduce my dependence without reducing sessions, and told her that I hoped that I could show her that I *could* reduce my dependence, and that we didn't *have* to reduce sessions. I wanted to figure out WHY I was dependent, and then work on the REASON, rather than just attacking the symptom (the dependence). And I did. I was dependent because she defined whether I was "good" or "bad" - she determined my self esteem. This is not a good plan - and we talked about self esteem and why it is unwise to put your self esteem in someone else's hands. Through this exercise, though, I was doing all the work. It seemed like she was just waiting for the 3 months to be up so that she could terminate me. It seemed like she was still mad, and it didn't matter what I did, she was going to continue to be mad.

And as I looked at the time between the first Google and the second, it seemed like she was "detached". She didn't have her heart in what she was doing, like she so clearly had for the first 7 years.

I became hopeless and seriously suicidal. I am alive only because I have an obligation to my daughter - I decided that no matter how much pain I was in, I couldn't leave her until she was out of high school. I told my therapist of my future plan. A couple of weeks later, I accused her of not really listening to what I was saying. Her response was "Well, I could concentrate better if I didn't have to worry about you killing yourself." Needless to say, my panic increased.

I've already described why I looked for a new therapist, with her blessing. I had narrowed the choice down to two (my current therapist and my old group therapist). I was describing my interviews for her when she asked what I had told them about why I was leaving. I talked about the never ending pain. She then told me that she thought I was leaving because she had nothing more to teach me. I asked her if she knew that I was in a lot of pain from the time of the second Google incident - and she said that she didn't know that I was in pain (for 4 months, leading to a near suicide attempt). I then asked for her opinion of which of my last two candidates she would recommend. She picked my current therapist. I asked if I could see her before my next regular appointment, and she said that she didn't think that it would be good for me to do that (it would encourage the dependence). Clearly, she STILL had no idea how much pain I was in.

About 6 weeks into seeing my new therapist (twice a week, by the way), we reinacted the same transference - where I was sure that he was mad at me, and nothing I did was making a difference. But with him, I could talk about this, and we worked on it, and he did convince me that he *wasn't* mad. And I was able to stop panicking. I probably had never been very clear with my old therapist - I didn't understand the transference until I was describing the relationship during my interviews. But, she also "didn't work that way".

So, no, there was never an erotic transference. The downfalls of my therapy were precipitated (as far as *I* can tell) by my Google actions. To this day, I don't know if she *was* mad during the 4 months (or the year before that). I haven't seen her since I left the last session saying "You are not understanding me" - probably the deepest insult I could utter.

My depression lifted a bit in the first couple of months with my new therapist, enough so that I took a 10 hour a week job at the library. Now my energy levels and optimism seem to correlate directly to whether my therapist is pushing me, or supporting me (so that I can recover from the pushing). It seems clear to me (now) that my depression has more to do with my therapist than it has to do with biology (though I do need meds to stay at a level where I can do any work in therapy). My old therapist was contributing dramatically to my depression.




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