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Re: Managing a therapeutic relationship

Posted by pegasus on August 5, 2009, at 10:58:41

In reply to Managing a therapeutic relationship, posted by emilyp on August 4, 2009, at 23:00:25

I wish I had some of those answers you're looking for. I don't really, but I wanted to respond, because my experience seems to be somewhat different than those of others who have posted so far. I was very very attached to my first T, and our therapy ended when he moved away to another state. It was extremely painful to lose him.

It's been over five years since he left. At this point there is no doubt in my mind that I'm better off having started that therapy than I would be if I hadn't. Yes, it was painful. And I grew so much. I agree with Dinah's T that quite a bit of the benefit I got from therapy would probably not have come about if I had not also risked (and experienced) the potential pain of a close, attached relationship.

I want to try to describe what I mean, but I suspect that it won't make much sense if you haven't experienced it yourself. A lot of the benefit that I experience now from that therapy is because I've internalized my ex-T to a decent extent. When times are tough, I still turn to him in my mind, and he's still there being supportive and helpful. I realize in a more distant way that that is really *me* being supportive of myself, in a way that he modeled for me. But it still feels like it's him, and I believe that if I *could* see him now, he would be as warm and supportive as I imagine him to be. It's because I allowed the intimacy and attachment of that relationship that I was able to understand that that kind of support could exist, and what it was like. I'd never experienced it anywhere else in my life. And . . . that's also what was so extremely painful when he left.

When I say it like that, it sounds like it was easy for me to allow myself to be that attached. But it totally wasn't. It was really, really hard, in part because I knew what I was risking. I was very resistant for a long time. Then I eventually started to really trust him. When he told me he was leaving, it was my worst fear coming true. And . . . I'm still glad I worked with him. He was a good T, and our work together still helps me every day.

I think part of why I can retain the sense of overall benefit is that he was pretty skillful in the way he left. We remained in email contact for quite a long time afterward. At first it was every week, then every couple of weeks, then every month, and now I still email maybe twice a year or so. He also invited me to call him on the phone after he left, and I did once just to check in and hear his voice. A couple of years after he left, I had a series of phone sessions with him, to process some of my remaining issues with his leaving. He was generally pretty warm in his email responses, although more and more brief as time went on. And the phone sessions were wonderful. I was able to retain a sense that he cared about me because of that continuing contact, and because of the discussions we had about that before he left. He insisted that we would always have a relationship. At the time it was cold comfort, which I didn't accept very gracefully. But now, I'm really glad he emphasized that point. He's right. We will always have a relationship. I believe that he won't forget me.

- peg




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