Psycho-Babble Psychology Thread 157

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frustrated with therapy

Posted by katekite on May 28, 2002, at 21:39:07

I don't know if it's me or the therapist.

Sometimes I feel he just wrecks my day.

He really doesn't seem to understand ADD things like how common it is to be depressed right after things go well (have some excitement, then no excitement, its a let down). So he freaks every time I'm depressed which doesn't help me learn to roll with it. Usually when I'm depressed I find its best to not concentrate on it but forge ahead and deal with some issue. Partly because of ADD I am not good at organizing the session and he lets me just wander around (figuratively) complaining... which is not what I want to do. After talking it over with him a bunch he does try to be more active but not most of the time, only when I've gone completely blank will he lead me back to what I was saying.

I've got some medical problems going and conversely, he doesn't like me talking about it. I could sob that I'm depressed 6 times in a row but bring up needing advice on how to deal with chronic unpredictable medical things and he glazes right over. I try to not obsess about it too much, like maybe only every 3rd or 4th time will I bring it up, but I really could use the support and for some reason he doesn't seem like he wants to give it. He says he believes me, that it's not in my head etc, but that I just need to assemble a team of doctors and let them figure it out. That seems to end the discussion. I'm not sure if obsessing about it is something I am only allowed to do in private? I figure its pretty natural to worry about bizarre numbness that's unpredictable, stuff like that. I'm not good at not thinking about things I can do nothing about. It just seems weird how he's dealing or not dealing with it.

My husband is getting therapy and it seems like he's making a ton of progress: I'm jealous. I've tried to replicate the type of thing that goes on but we just end up talking about my parents ad nauseaum -- ok they weren't perfect but I've been over it a million times -- I find it almost too easy to spend an hour talking about childhood. I feel like time would be better spent on the present or recent past? I don't really know. My husband seems to spend the time actively practicing being assertive - I could use some of that.

I don't have a clear idea of what I want to change, is part of it. I'd like to be better at dealing with everything, LOL. I've seen this guy for 6 months and it just doesn't seem to go anywhere, but he knows me so well. He's better than a couple others but not as good as one past one in CA. I've asked him what he thinks my major issues are, I genuinely need his opinion, and its just 'what do you think?'....

At what point do you decide its time to move on?
I don't know how to work harder at this...

This guy is so nice, so supportive for mood things, and you know, doesn't think I'm borderline or anything that I'm not. He seems to have my diagnosis clear and that's something.

I actually discussed some of this.... talked about the ADD aspect and even offered a book on it (that was hard to do without seeming critical) and he kind of just laughed it off, although I think he got the point at the time. He seems to forget things almost as much as I do.

At the same time by the time the next appointment rolls around I'm desperate to talk to him -- I'm attached and feel supported and all that good stuff. If I've been down and just need a good ear he's awesome and I come away happier.

How good can a therapist be?



Re: frustrated with therapy katekite

Posted by sid on May 28, 2002, at 22:51:57

In reply to frustrated with therapy, posted by katekite on May 28, 2002, at 21:39:07

I'm sorry to hear about your therapy problems. We go there to resolve our problems, and it often becomes a problem in itself!

Well, for starters, nobody's perfect, and your therapist is no exception. Keep that in mind. We tend to put professors, mentors, therapists, doctors, etc. on a pedestal and assume they will perform perfectly, always. That can't be, they're people like you and me who have on and off days too.

About the medical problems: I think, indirectly, he's telling you that he can't help you. He's not a doctor. He's telling you to get to a doctor, or a team of them, and deal with it there. What more do you want from him? Support? Perhaps he does not feel it's his job to do that. He's not a friend, not a family member, not your husband. He's there to help you progress in the way you want to. Does your talking to him about this make you progress in any way? Probably not. Perhaps going to a doctor would however.

Then again, if you get out of there often discontent, it may be time to change therapist. Therapists are not good or bad (well, some maybe) - they're good or bad with some people, some issues, etc. Do you get your money's worth? If not, then change. Another VERY important question is: do you do your part of the work? No matter how good a therapist is, if the client does not want to progress or delays progrerssing, for fear of whatever, consciously or not, there isn't much the therapist can do. For example, my hunch is that he does not feel that this medical problem is something he can help you with, and that talking about it is time wasted in your sessions. I may be wrong, mind you.

Why don't you have him read your message? Or summarize it if you don't want him to read every detail you wrote. Discuss the issues with him. Ask him bluntly: am I wasting my time here? Do I seem like I'm hiding from something? It takes 2 to tango in therapy. Are you giving it what it needs?

Finally, if his answers are not satisfying, and if you remain discontent, then yes, by all means, change therapist.

Goos luck in this long but gratifying process.

- sid


Re: frustrated with therapy

Posted by beardedlady on May 29, 2002, at 6:39:21

In reply to Re: frustrated with therapy katekite, posted by sid on May 28, 2002, at 22:51:57

My therapist, who I desperately need to see right now (if I could just remember to call him today!), usually has answers for me. They're the kind of "duh" answers you could think of for yourself, but you just don't. I had a bunch of medical issues, too, and when we get to them, he's very reassuring, and he has these little anecdotes, which he'll follow with, "ever since then, I have decided I will not worry until there's something to worry about." It's stupid stuff, really, but it works for me.

I think of the therapist that says, "what do YOU think?" as very Bob Newhart. I didn't think they did that anymore. I really thought most therapists tried to help us cope. I've had assignments from mine to make lists and do all sorts of things, including "have fun," which sounds really silly, but I actually did start to have fun.

But the major insight I got from him was that I was stifling some creative energies, that I had some sort of block, and once I began working on "projects" and made sure I always had a "project" going on, I would sleep again.

He was right. And now I'm having a relapse of insomnia, and I am realizing that my work has, essentially, stopped, and that I have no projects. It looks like the day that I'll be embarking on one, even though I'm exhausted and frightened.

So my therapist works; there you have it. That advice came from our first through third sessions, over a year ago. In that time, I've had only three or four bad patches lasting a week or two.

I guess what I'm trying to say is you have to like your therapist, and he has to be working for you--even after six months. And if not, you should find a more "hands on" type--someone who will impart advice or words of wisdom, rather than letting you talk the whole time. I find that irritates me. I know what I feel. I want some coping skills. I want to know what to do about how I feel. I want a plan.

I hope you get those things. It sounds like that's what you want.

beardy : )>


Re: frustrated with therapy sid

Posted by katekite on May 29, 2002, at 8:21:24

In reply to Re: frustrated with therapy katekite, posted by sid on May 28, 2002, at 22:51:57

Thanks Sid,

That's a very good point you made about not having him be my friend. When I started I was so sick so often that I wasn't up to much in the way of real therapy, he was very supportive and just friend-like, and I do think of him as a friend. He uses anecdotes etc when needed to illustrate things and so I know all about his family and friends etc... he feels like a paid friend more than anything at the moment.

My medical stuff is better currently, plus starting on ADD meds helps, and so I'm ready to move into challenging stuff and I've said so.

I guess it comes down to that I can't really have it both ways: I either need to use him as a supportive friend or as a challenging therapist. It's not fair to expect him to go back and forth changing roles, especially in an hour.

I want the new challenging stuff but also miss the friendly chatty supportive thing. Can't have both.

You are right I need to talk to him about it.

Oh I really don't want to. Which probably means I need to do it even more, given that I'm an avoider.

Thanks for your input.



Re: frustrated with therapy

Posted by katekite on May 29, 2002, at 8:41:13

In reply to Re: frustrated with therapy, posted by beardedlady on May 29, 2002, at 6:39:21

Hi Beardy,

Good luck getting a project going. I find sometimes too that somehow without me noticing all work has pretty much ground to a halt. There's inertia, but once you start it's not so bad.

I think we like the same kinds of therapists. I quit the last one because they were solely an "mm-hmmm," "I see" "how does that make you feel?" one.

I keep asking for homework but it doesn't come. The closest I've had is "chew on that idea".

He also 'sums up', at the end of every session, which I find really irritating.

I slept last night which was good... I feel less like firing him today...

I agree about the way I should deal with the medical stuff.

That last bit sounds a lot like me: I know how I feel. I feel how I feel intensely. I'm not scared of how I feel. I'm just not quite sure of how to cope with how I feel. So rehashing how I feel about everyone and everything is annoying, but practicing particular tips would be very helpful. A few sessions we have gotten into that but unfortunately we end up somehow with about 30 tips and I feel overwhelmed and practice half of them once and half not at all and then forget all of them. LOL.

So far you and sid have helped a lot:

1. don't expect him to be a friend or a doctor.
2. maybe ask again about homework, coping mechanisms, ask to not rehash how I feel as much.

LOL --- now this is an aside -- two times ago I was down in the dumps about my medical stuff and he recounted the following anecdote:

"I had a friend back when I was 20 who started having weird symptoms, not quite like yours but not that different either. She got a cat scan and it was negative. She tried to cope but things got worse. She got another cat scan and it was negative. She started really having emotional problems and was on a lot of medication. Finally her husband got involved and went to the doctors and demanded over and over she get another cat scan. They finally gave in and did another cat scan. Turned out that last one showed the tumor, which had grown by that point. She died not long after."

So my therapist's point was that one should keep bugging doctors until one is satisfied with the outcome, that things really do go wrong.

But really, that anecdote? I wasn't worried about brain tumors before.... LOL. Not helping. He's not helping!!

Well anyways, thanks for your advice. I will try to put it to work.

Right now I have to go play tennis -- part of my drive to get back on top of exercising.



I want to strangle your doctor! katekite

Posted by beardedlady on May 29, 2002, at 9:34:13

In reply to Re: frustrated with therapy, posted by katekite on May 29, 2002, at 8:41:13

That thing about the brain tumor? What a HORRIBLE person! I can't believe someone would say that to a person undergoing therapy.

I've been dizzy without relief for 9 months. Two months before the dizziness, I had an MRI. My brain was in "pristine condition," my neurologist told me. I had a CT scan prior to and after that. Everyone is always telling me that my x-rays are fine. What should set me at ease, then? Should I make them give me another CT or MRI? And when that one comes back negative, should I still not trust the radiologists and doctors?

Maybe that guy's friend didn't have a brain tumor before the last CT. Maybe all the radiation gave it to her!

I'm sorry, but that's pretty irresponsible of him, I think.

Welcome back, hypochondria. Haven't seen you for a full minute.

beardy : )>


I want to strangle him too

Posted by mair on May 30, 2002, at 8:04:35

In reply to I want to strangle your doctor! katekite, posted by beardedlady on May 29, 2002, at 9:34:13


That's a horrible anecdote. I also don't agree that he shouldn't be more interested in your medical problems. I've had a few arise since I started seeing my current therapist. She's not a doctor; she can't give me a lot of advice, but she can certainly empathically listen and does, and generally wants to explore how these medical problems might be adding stress to my life and affecting my mood.

I think it's well and good to try to push you to find the right medical solution, although NOT with that anecdote. However, to be totally uninterested ignores the extent to which out mental health is inextricably tied to our physical health.



I hoped someone would think that was odd

Posted by katekite on May 30, 2002, at 12:55:43

In reply to I want to strangle him too, posted by mair on May 30, 2002, at 8:04:35

Sometimes I think he just doesn't sleep well or something, and really puts his foot in his mouth.

I called yesterday and cancelled today's appointment... in a bizarre way was too depressed for therapy. I think he's good when I'm not depressed or feeling hypochondriacal.

Went to the optometrist instead for a checkup and my eyes are fine! My prescription hasn't changed in the 5 years since I went in. Yes finally something about my body is in good shape.

Thanks for commiserating.



Re: I hoped someone would think that was odd

Posted by mair on May 31, 2002, at 7:54:32

In reply to I hoped someone would think that was odd, posted by katekite on May 30, 2002, at 12:55:43

"I called yesterday and cancelled today's appointment... in a bizarre way was too depressed for therapy. I think he's good when I'm not depressed or feeling hypochondriacal."

When I am most depressed, I most don't want to go to therapy appointments for a variety of reasons, probably the most prominant being that it's just more difficult for me to talk. I place too much emphasis on being cogent and it's hard for me to give that up. Also I have this reaction when the real issue on the table is therapy or my relationship with my therapist. I can think of a lot of forms of torture that are more appealing that discussing those topics.

My therapist however, has convinced me that although sessions may not be as productive when I'm more depressed, they are important - that I need to reach the point where I feel comfortable with her even when it's difficult for me to articulate things well. I've noticed also that part of my reluctance arises from the fact that I just don't want to talk about what's really bothering me - she's trying to get me over the feeling that I need to filter and package things for her. She also has really stressed how important it is for me to raise therapy or patient/therapist relationship issues with her either because there is some form of transference going on that needs to be discussed or because I need to be a lot more comfortable confronting relationship matters directly and her office is the safest place to do that.

I don't think it augers well that you might be avoiding therapy and your therapist perhaps because you feel uncomfortable with how he approaches things with you (or doesn't).



I go ESPECIALLY when I'm depressed

Posted by beardedlady on May 31, 2002, at 8:37:40

In reply to Re: I hoped someone would think that was odd, posted by mair on May 31, 2002, at 7:54:32

I know how it feels to want to be coherent. I teach English, after all, so I value words and their expression. (And it's embarrassing when I screw up or babble!) But I find that I don't need my therapist so much as when he helps me out of my blue funk--especially when it's deep.

The first time we met, I told him all about my current self. I was weeping, sobbing, crying, dark. He asked me what I did before I had my daughter, and I told him that. He noticed that I was exuberant when I was talking about the things I did pre-pregnancy. He said my face lit up, and I became animated, talking with my hands and moving around.

At the end of the first session, he said to me: You need to start writing poetry again. Either that, or join a punk rock band.

I went home and wrote. It was a poem about panic. The fog lifted. Next time, he told me to write a poem about the loved ones who had died, and I did. It was almost a miracle. He could see the things that folks who knew me couldn't because they took it for granted. He gives me so many coping skills and plans in case of disaster.

When I am doing well, there's little I need to work on. (In fact, talking about the bad stuff often makes me start to feel bad again.) But when I'm depressed, I need a refresher course. And if I cry, it's okay. That's what he's there for. His job is to make sense of what I say and give me advice.

That's why I say you have to really like and trust your therapist.

There's no question that you have to take your clothes off when you visit the doctor--for checkups as well as sick visits. You just do it. So why are we afraid to bare our minds in front of the therapist?

beardy : )>


good points mair and beardy

Posted by katekite on May 31, 2002, at 13:33:55

In reply to I go ESPECIALLY when I'm depressed, posted by beardedlady on May 31, 2002, at 8:37:40

Thanks. I am un-self-aware enough to not realize its a major sign of something to be avoiding therapy. LOL. I will have to talk to him about it.

I sure wish when I was depressed I found it hard to talk -- instead I can just obsess away about it, feeling like I will always be depressed, the more I talk the worse I feel. This is part of why I feel like talking doesn't help at those times. I live in the moment so much I can't imagine feeling better, but always do.

I suppose at the very least I should talk about that with him.

Ugh. Ok. thanks.


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