Psycho-Babble Psychology Thread 215567

Shown: posts 1 to 22 of 22. This is the beginning of the thread.

 

To those with therapists....

Posted by Dinah on April 2, 2003, at 18:26:19

My therapist's mom died. He'll be out till next week. It wasn't unexpected. I know it's not my job to take care of his needs, but I've known him for a long time and am fond of him. I just feel bad that he feels bad. And really that's my main feeling right now, sadness for him.

But I'm not quite sure how to handle my inevitable feelings of guilt. I mean I am bound to be talking of things and think, geez you shouldn't be nattering on about this to someone who's mom just died. Or if I complain of my mother, that's likely to make me feel guilty too. To make matters worse, my husband's mom is not at all well, and I've already felt uncomfortable talking about that to my therapist, considering his situation.

How have you all dealt with the times when your therapist was sad? How do you overcome the desire to not bother him or even to try to take care of him? It's hard to turn off those mothering instincts. Is it up to him to set the tone?

I certainly hope the answer isn't to tell him directly of my concerns. That would seem too great a burden to put on him. In fact it seems almost rude of me to acknowledge awareness of his private life, although he's always been pretty open about it.

 

Re: To those with therapists....

Posted by mair on April 2, 2003, at 19:39:56

In reply to To those with therapists...., posted by Dinah on April 2, 2003, at 18:26:19

I haven't been in your precise situation but I used to be very reticent to complain about my father (very fertile ground for analysis) because I knew my own therapist's father was dead. It wasn't in the immediate past, but I used to imagine that she was thinking to herself how much worse it is to have no father at all than to have one you complain about.

At some point and in some stumbling way this came out. She assured me that she felt it essential for a therapist not to bring his or her own problems into a patient's therapy - but to address them in some other way, like with their own therapist, for instance. I guess I believe her but I know it's pretty impossible not to think that these therapists are not affected by whatever else is going on in their lives.

Think of it this way - if you or I faced a similar situation (with on of our own parents), we'd just have to work that much harder to make sure that our sadness over that wasn't impacting one of our clients. I'm not sure it's that different with your therapist. I think it's ok to acknowledge your feelings about what he's going through, but I'm sure he wouldn't want this to alter what you choose to discuss in your sessions.

Mair

 

Re: To those with therapists.... mair

Posted by Dinah on April 2, 2003, at 21:20:00

In reply to Re: To those with therapists...., posted by mair on April 2, 2003, at 19:39:56

I know that what you're saying is true, Mair. But I don't know if I can *feel* it.

I'm probably making a bigger deal of it than I need to. He knows me well enough to know that I'll be worried, so he'll probably bring it up himself. Of course, I'm dreading that too.

I also think he's probably going back to work a bit too soon, and that he doesn't always recognize his limitations. So I'm wondering if I should cancel the appointment his office made and make it for a few days later. But then he'd want to discuss that too (because he knows me well enough to know how uncharacteristic that would be), and it's a whole new level of awkwardness. I did tell his office to tell him to feel free to postpone the appointment if he likes. It's currently set for the day after he returns. They swear he's working that day, but i dunno.

Sigh.

 

Re: To those with therapists....

Posted by noa on April 3, 2003, at 15:57:56

In reply to To those with therapists...., posted by Dinah on April 2, 2003, at 18:26:19

My therapist's wife died a few years ago. He said at the time (and during her illness before hand) that continuing to work was important to him and good for him. If I remember correctly, he let me know that it was ok to talk about how this affected how I felt in therapy, and it worked out ok.

 

Re: To those with therapists....

Posted by noa on April 3, 2003, at 15:59:53

In reply to Re: To those with therapists.... mair, posted by Dinah on April 2, 2003, at 21:20:00

Dinah, leave it up to him when to return to work. Do not cancel your appointment. It can be "grist for the mill" to talk about how you considered cancelling because you were concerned about him.

 

Re: To those with therapists.... Dinah

Posted by WorryGirl on April 3, 2003, at 17:55:49

In reply to To those with therapists...., posted by Dinah on April 2, 2003, at 18:26:19

Hi Dinah,
The therapist I saw last summer and fall's father died during that time. I remember feeling just as you do.

I often wonder if his father's death was the reason I wasn't making much progress. It might have had nothing to do with it, but I often felt that his mind was not there with me during our sessions after that. It would be only natural for him to be thinking of him.

I just told him that I was very sorry to hear about his father and even suggested postponing my next session but he seemed insistent on me keeping my schedule.

 

Re: To those with therapists.... noa

Posted by Dinah on April 3, 2003, at 22:40:05

In reply to Re: To those with therapists...., posted by noa on April 3, 2003, at 15:59:53

I think it's great you were able to talk freely with your therapist about it. And we've talked too, since his mom has been sick for a while. Perhaps when I see him, and see that he's not broken in a million pieces, I'll feel better able to speak freely about it. I really am pretty good about being open with him.

I think I'll call him Tuesday morning and remind him that if he doesn't feel up to it he can cancel. We've gone over this a few times too, that it's his responsibility to decide what he can and can't do. But the truth is that he's not good at recognizing his limitations, and he sometimes sees clients when perhaps he shouldn't. When he feels "off" to me, it just upsets me on a subliminal level, so my concern isn't totally altruistic. :) I vibrate like a tuning fork to other people's emotions, especially people I know well.

 

Re: To those with therapists.... WorryGirl

Posted by Dinah on April 3, 2003, at 22:47:10

In reply to Re: To those with therapists.... Dinah, posted by WorryGirl on April 3, 2003, at 17:55:49

It must have been especially tough since you hadn't been seeing him long. At least I think I feel comfortable enough with my therapist to address those things. We did talk some while his mom was sick about how I felt sad when he felt sad, and how perhaps I was afraid he wouldn't be able to meet my needs (and how it was ok and not "bad" to be afraid of that).

While he does seem distracted at the beginning of a session, he seems to settle down and be able to concentrate during the session. Although we have had a couple of bad sessions lately with misunderstandings that I never did quite understand. Perhaps his stress had something to do with that.

I'll give him a chance to cancel, and try to judge from his tone whether I should insist on cancelling. :)

I'm glad to know that it's normal for me to be worried about this. I never know when I'm overreacting.

 

Re: To those with therapists....

Posted by noa on April 4, 2003, at 10:39:46

In reply to Re: To those with therapists.... noa, posted by Dinah on April 3, 2003, at 22:40:05

Well, then, if he is unable to do his job well because he came back too soon--that is his fault, kiddo, and you tell him it makes you angry. But you are the PATIENT and it is not your job to have to anticipate his needs like that. It sounds like what many of us have had to do with our parents. As my first therapist once said, his job is to get out of the way of all those old dynamics--ie, not contribute more of them. Seriously, I think you should go in, expect the therapy you pay for. If he isn't up to it, you have a right to be miffed at him for not taking care of himself properly because it ain't your job.

 

Re: To those with therapists.... Dinah

Posted by noa on April 4, 2003, at 10:46:04

In reply to Re: To those with therapists.... noa, posted by Dinah on April 3, 2003, at 22:40:05

Dinah, btw, it wasn't quite as easy as it sounds for me to discuss it, as it stirred up a lot of internal stuff for me, but my therapist did a great job of being "real" about the situation and opening it up for me to feel as safe as possible. I think he did a good job of owning what he brings to the situation (he always does) and making it clear that it isn't my job to take care of him--and there was a consistency to his words and how he acted--he wasn't just saying that--his behavior conveyed that he was taking care of himself and it wasn't my job. As I mentioned, he said he had learned that work, and sticking to routines, was a way to take care of himself, so being back at work was as much for him as for his patients.

He had taken off some time, during which he had coverage. I saw the covering doctor once during that time.

 

Re: To those with therapists.... noa

Posted by Dinah on April 4, 2003, at 17:07:49

In reply to Re: To those with therapists.... Dinah, posted by noa on April 4, 2003, at 10:46:04

Well, I'll try. I do tend to try to take care of people. Which is odd, because I also tend to expect people to take care of me. :)

I do wish we had worked out the substitute therapist arrangement before all this happened. He'll never agree now, and he's still going to be out of town as often as he can arrange it (grin) on his second job. But it hasn't been all that often so far, I guess (not for lack of trying on his part tho). And he does encourage me to call him when he's out of town if I need him. But honestly, he's not really great on the phone. I can always hear the move-along handshake in his voice. :(

 

Re: To those with therapists.... Dinah

Posted by Medusa on April 5, 2003, at 10:44:01

In reply to To those with therapists...., posted by Dinah on April 2, 2003, at 18:26:19

> I certainly hope the answer isn't to tell him directly of my concerns. That would seem too great a burden to put on him.
>

Well, I haven't read the responses yet, or your responses to them, so maybe this is off track ...

but I think that if you +don't+ tell him of your concerns, it's something you're hiding, and it takes energy from both of you. If you tell him, it would probably get the issue handled and out of the way faster.

He might not know how to handle this any better than you do - but he has more resources than you do for this. (Therapists training groups etc.)

 

Re: To those with therapists....

Posted by Dinah on April 5, 2003, at 18:57:06

In reply to Re: To those with therapists.... Dinah, posted by Medusa on April 5, 2003, at 10:44:01

Well at least I don't have much longer to worry about it. He'll be back on Tuesday, and I should know more then.

We do have a good and open relationship, so I'm sure in one way or another, we'll address the issue. I'll wait until I see how he's doing to decide on the way.

 

Re: Oops. Above for Medusa. (nm)

Posted by Dinah on April 5, 2003, at 18:57:34

In reply to Re: To those with therapists...., posted by Dinah on April 5, 2003, at 18:57:06

 

Re: To those with therapists.... Dinah

Posted by judy1 on April 6, 2003, at 17:46:08

In reply to Re: To those with therapists...., posted by Dinah on April 5, 2003, at 18:57:06

Hi Dinah,
I just wanted to wish you well with your session on tuesday- and to trust your therapist's ability to take care of himself properly. i think it's natural to care about his needs and i also think it's important to bring up your feelings in an honest way. i was in a similar situation with a therapist at one time (someone i also cared about a great deal) and he reassured me that working helped him deal with his grief and that we should focus on my needs during the session. take care-judy

 

Re: JUDY!

Posted by noa on April 6, 2003, at 19:23:14

In reply to Re: To those with therapists.... Dinah, posted by judy1 on April 6, 2003, at 17:46:08

Good to see you! I hope you've been well.

 

Re: JUDY! noa

Posted by judy1 on April 7, 2003, at 11:51:35

In reply to Re: JUDY!, posted by noa on April 6, 2003, at 19:23:14

Hi Noa,
just in survival mode (read: curled up in closet) but i'm doing much better- thanks so much for asking. take care, judy

 

Re: JUDY!

Posted by noa on April 7, 2003, at 19:52:19

In reply to Re: JUDY! noa, posted by judy1 on April 7, 2003, at 11:51:35

Dare I ask about the law case? Ok to tell me if you don't want to talk about it.

 

Re: JUDY! oops--nevermind, I see the thread below (nm) noa

Posted by noa on April 7, 2003, at 19:53:13

In reply to Re: JUDY!, posted by noa on April 7, 2003, at 19:52:19

 

Re: It's tomorrow. Wish me luck.

Posted by Dinah on April 7, 2003, at 20:37:23

In reply to Re: JUDY! oops--nevermind, I see the thread below (nm) noa, posted by noa on April 7, 2003, at 19:53:13

I really can't afford any more incapacitating upsets right now. I'm behind at work.

 

How did it go? (nm) Dinah

Posted by judy1 on April 8, 2003, at 11:58:03

In reply to Re: It's tomorrow. Wish me luck., posted by Dinah on April 7, 2003, at 20:37:23

 

Re: Went fine. Worried for nothing.

Posted by Dinah on April 8, 2003, at 20:21:26

In reply to How did it go? (nm) Dinah, posted by judy1 on April 8, 2003, at 11:58:03

I had called and left a message to tell him he could cancel if he wanted. that i was fine (lied).

And he called back and left a very reassuring message, far more than he usually does. He must have figured out that I was concerned.

We talked about it and it was fine.

And I really wasn't feeling well, so the session stayed on me.


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