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Re: The same old circle » cricket

Posted by Tamar on October 13, 2005, at 4:39:27

In reply to The same old circle, posted by cricket on October 12, 2005, at 11:06:29

Gosh, what a difficult session! It seems it’s a good thing that you let the adolescent girl speak. But it sounds as if she’s somewhat justified in being uncertain of your therapist.

I’m a little astonished that he didn’t seem to realise that to an adolescent girl he would seem like an authority figure. And that he didn’t seem to understand how prejudices work institutionally in schools. I thought everybody knew that in this day and age. I guess that’s one of *my* prejudices… I’m glad you (and your adolescent part) are putting him right.

The stories you tell of school are heartbreaking. Were you the only one who was ‘different’? Or were there other kids in your school who experienced similar injustices?

Maybe your therapist does have a lot of work to do. Maybe it will be a lot of work for him to understand experiences that are evidently so completely different from his own. Maybe the ‘if we decide to do this’ isn’t so much an indication that he might give up on you, but an indication of his recognition that working with you might require him to learn new skills.

> So now I am just angry with him. Angry that he is so privileged and so naïve to think that the world extends that same privilege to everyone. Angry that he wants to quit now when I have invested so much time and money into this.

Perhaps he doesn’t want to quit. Perhaps he simply needs some time to assimilate what all this means for his work with you. But I can understand why you are angry. I can understand why you’re so distressed at his reaction. I can understand why he might *think* the things he said, but I’m not so sure why he would say them out loud. Frankly, I’m a little surprised that he didn’t expect something like this from the beginning of your relationship, if he knew that your background wasn’t ‘mainstream’. Dealing with the utter unfairness of childhood experience of discrimination should be something he’d expect to work on.

> He was quite defensive too. "I think it’s a paradox that in the eyes of most of the world you would be privileged too." And "you know rich people suffer too. We’re all the same in our suffering."

I think there’s a time and a place for challenging people’s assumptions. And if he were talking exclusively to the adult you, perhaps that might have been appropriate (you can, of course, disagree with him and it can lead to a good discussion). But I’m a little less certain that it made sense to say it in the context of a discussion with the adolescent girl. In that context, it sounds a little too much like the sorts of excuses she’s probably heard a million times.

I think perhaps he’s uncomfortable with being seen as part of the problem rather than part of the solution. And no doubt, like many therapists, he entered the field wanting to help people. But he can help best if he’s prepared to accept the social realities of the culture we live in. And he can help best if he doesn’t take your adolescent’s anger personally.

I do think it sounds as if he’s uncertain of his ability to help you. And he’s expressing that through defensiveness. I suspect he’s invested a lot emotionally in your therapy, but he’s making it all about him: asking if you think he’s bossy, and saying he has a lot of work to do, and stuff like that. I think he needs to take a step back and ask you what aspects of your relationship with him are difficult for you, and how those difficulties connect with your past experience.

> But geez, sometimes I wish he would just say "Go away."

Well, I’m kind of glad he’s not saying that! But it seems as if you’re having to be awfully patient with him at the moment. From everything you’ve said before, he’ll probably get there in a little while. It must be frustrating to have to wait for him to catch up. On the other hand, you’ve invested a lot in the relationship over the years. And I hope that once he does sort it out in his own mind he’ll realise that your adolescent part needs to be allowed to express her rage. And if she directs it towards him, he needs to be able to help her look to past experience to explore the sources of it.

It does sound as if you’re working really hard in therapy at the moment. Good for you!





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