Psycho-Babble Psychology Thread 364437

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Does your Therapist get mad at you?

Posted by daisym on July 9, 2004, at 13:55:10

Yesterday, I told my therapist that I had been dreaming about our last couple of sessions. In one, he was very angry with me for being so ambiguous about my attachment to him and for continually testing his trust worthiness. In the dream, his anger was apparent, he expressed it forcefully and it scared me.

So, he wanted to know what it would mean to me if he really did get angry with me. I said I thought it would be "fairly devastating." We wondered around the topic of anger for a while and he noticed I was gone...floated away completely. He called me back and asked me what happened. He said I looked like I was about to cry...yeah, well, anger is a scary topic for me on lots of levels. At one point he said, "I guess we won't know how you will react until it happens." That was it. That's when I floated away. I never connected therapy and him to anger before. I don't want to now. It is supposed to be my safe place. I don't want to have to worry about his anger. I told him that and he said he wasn't saying he necessarily WOULD get angry with me, that in fact, it was much more likely that I would get angry with him. But, if it did happen, we would talk it through and it wasn't the end of the world.

I asked him what he looked liked angry, how he typically expressed it and he answered pretty honestly. But he did say that he would try to never yell at me, that he knows it would be a very big mistake, given my background. He suggested we look at the dream as all the characters in it being me -- meaning I was mad at myself for being ambiguous, etc. He tried to get me to talk about why I didn't get angry very often, but I couldn't do much with it, I was too far gone by then.

I do like the way we ended though because it reminds me that he is figuring out how my brain works. He said, "In 2 hours I do not want you to be thinking that we talked about anger today because I'm mad at you. That was your dream and it isn't true. So don't even go there. I'm really glad you were able to tell me some really hard things this week about how you are feeling about me. I'm not mad at all." :)

I guess I'm curious everyone's experience with their Therapist's anger. How do they express it? Do you just pick up on it? Did it change the way you deal with each other?

It's such a huge issue for me. I'm not sure I'm ready to dive deep into it yet.

 

Re: Does your Therapist get mad at you?

Posted by Dinah on July 9, 2004, at 14:28:25

In reply to Does your Therapist get mad at you?, posted by daisym on July 9, 2004, at 13:55:10

LOLOLOLOLOL

I suspect you already know the answer to this one from me! My therapist gets mad at me ****all**** the time. He used to try to cover and call it frustration. "I'm just frustrated that I don't see a way to help you with this." But he finally gave up and quit trying to deny or spin my quite accurate perceptions. Yes he does get mad at me. Yes, he yells. No, I don't like it. But no, it's not the end of the world. He's shifted from denying he ever gets angry with me to trying to teach me that people can get angry with each other without it ruining the relationship, and that anger expressed honestly and with a certain amount of sensitivity can strengthen a relationship because it makes it more authentic.

We must have one heck of an authentic relationship. :(

But on some level, I think he's right. I know when he's angry with me, so I'm not constantly wondering or worrying or obsessing that he's angry with me. If he's angry he says so. We talk about it. Usually one of us (ok, usually him) will understand the other person's viewpoint, and the anger will simmer down and be replaced with acceptance.

But on the other hand, I sometimes wish he wouldn't be angry *quite* so often. I mean, how authentic does a therapeutic relationship need to be? I do think in some ways it's reduced the safety I feel there, and disturbed the magic.

 

Re: Does your Therapist get mad at you?

Posted by lucy stone on July 9, 2004, at 15:09:45

In reply to Does your Therapist get mad at you?, posted by daisym on July 9, 2004, at 13:55:10

Anger is also a huge issue with me, although unlike you a get angry all the time. I am often filled with rage and lash out at the people around me. My anger is not my friend and of course it causes great difficulty in my life. OTOH, I cannot stand for people to be angry with me. I expect people to just take my anger without striking back. Impossible, of course, but that's why I'm in therapy. This is behavior I learned from my father, he would rage at us and we could not fight back. In the past I was terrified that my T would get angry at me and that would cause me to end therapy with him. In the past 3.5 years I have learned that he will not get angry with me when I rage at him. He does get frustrated and defensive at times, but I have spent entire sessions just clawing at him and it would be impossible for him not to react. We have spent many sessions analyzing his response to my anger, why I rage, what I can do instead, ect., ect. He will however, never get angry or yell at me, I know that now. He has told me that he has never yelled at a patient and I believe him. He is a very good match with what I need from a T.

 

Re: gosh no

Posted by tabitha on July 9, 2004, at 17:06:59

In reply to Does your Therapist get mad at you?, posted by daisym on July 9, 2004, at 13:55:10

I think I'd crumple up and die if she did. Closest I've ever seen is a slight frown.

 

anger....well, no thanks

Posted by Jai Narayan on July 9, 2004, at 18:33:41

In reply to Re: gosh no, posted by tabitha on July 9, 2004, at 17:06:59

I have close caring relationship with my T.
I can't even imagine anger.
I think anger is very hard.....I am cowed by it. My mother and sisters were/are very angry people and have intimidated me.
I tended to retreat and feel terrible.
I have been angry but I try to keep it in check and process my frustrations. It just seems overwhelming to unload it on someone.

I have had a difficult time when someone felt they needed to unload anger on me. anger burns and burns.
I really felt burnt after anger was projected at me. My aura was crisped up like a saltine.
I don't like being angry at someone else either.

What is anger anyway? It seems complex.

 

Re: Does your Therapist get mad at you?

Posted by shadows721 on July 9, 2004, at 19:35:43

In reply to Does your Therapist get mad at you?, posted by daisym on July 9, 2004, at 13:55:10

Daisym,

I think it's great that you brought up the dream in t. It sounds like you covered a very important issue that you need to feel safe in therapy. I don't think it was a coincidence. I think your subconscious was telling your t what you need to feel safe and about your own frustrations.

I totally agree with you, Daisy. I don't think I could handle that issue with my t either.

 

Re: Does your Therapist get mad at you? Dinah

Posted by Pfinstegg on July 9, 2004, at 21:30:13

In reply to Re: Does your Therapist get mad at you?, posted by Dinah on July 9, 2004, at 14:28:25

Gosh, Dinah. I feel bad that your T. just lets himself get angry at you- I don't think T's do that, generally. It's supposed to be a safe place where you can get angry, while he remains calmer, and tries to understand what's happening with you. What would therapy be like for you if you had a T. who didn 't get angry, ever, as most of us do? Wouldn't it hold more safety and possibilities for growth for you? I know you are used to him doing that, and have adapted to it, which shows how much strength you have. Honestly, I don't think I could handle that very well, myself. I think I'd feel like running and never coming back.

 

Re: Does your Therapist get mad at you? Pfinstegg

Posted by Dinah on July 9, 2004, at 22:57:37

In reply to Re: Does your Therapist get mad at you? Dinah, posted by Pfinstegg on July 9, 2004, at 21:30:13

Wellll, let me try to be fair here. My therapist says that I think people are yelling more often than they actually yell. That if they are angry, I see them as yelling at me. Yet I know he has raised his voice with me on many occasions. But maybe not to the point of yelling. I remember once I was asking him not to yell and he yelled back that he wasn't yelling, and when he heard himself, the look on his face was priceless.

But I don't know. I could always pick up when he was angry with me whether or not he allowed it to show. Overall, I'd prefer that he allowed it to show than for me to know it, but doubt my perceptions because he refused to show it. I considered it a major breakthrough when he quit using the euphemism "frustrated" and started using "angry" or "mad".

I know he wasn't so honest with his feelings for the first several years of therapy. I think that some mutual trust and commitment needed to be built before he was that open about how he felt. And honestly, there are good and bad sides to that.

But he really and truly does believe that withstanding anger is good for a relationship, and that I don't do it very well. I think he really does think it's good for me to learn how to get angry and be on the receiving end of anger while still knowing that the relationship will continue, and will continue on a stronger footing. And he *never* gets angry without at the same time reassuring me in the context of the relationship as a whole. "I'm angry right now, Dinah, but that doesn't mean that I don't care about you or that I'm not committed to working this through. Everything is going to be ok on my end. Is everything going to be ok on your end?" That sort of thing.

I don't know that I like it, but I'm not sure I'd like it if he *never* showed anger either, especially if I could feel it in the air. I'm not even sure I'd like it if he never felt anger with me, even though I really don't like it when he's angry with me. But I'm not sure I can explain that...

 

Re: Does your Therapist get mad at you? Dinah

Posted by Pfinstegg on July 9, 2004, at 23:49:06

In reply to Re: Does your Therapist get mad at you? Pfinstegg, posted by Dinah on July 9, 2004, at 22:57:37

Oh, I think I understand it a bit better. Him saying that he's angry, but also cares about you and is committed to working it through doesn't sound too bad at all- there's a lot of support and commitment there even when he is angry. I'm assuming that all of our therapists get angry, hurt, irritated, bored, etc. by us at one time or another. The difference seems to be that yours says more of it out loud, while a lot of the others sort of use their feelings in a different way- to understand what's really going on with their patients. They know they have these uncomfortable feelings, but they use them as signals that something is going on with us- rather than expressing it as one might in a relationship in daily life. I do know what you mean= no-one wants a therapist to be too *nice*, or overly empathic, even. I think we really want them to see and know all of us- and not to turn away,

 

Re: Does your Therapist get mad at you?

Posted by lucy stone on July 10, 2004, at 8:43:22

In reply to Re: Does your Therapist get mad at you? Dinah, posted by Pfinstegg on July 9, 2004, at 23:49:06

> OhI do know what you mean= no-one wants a therapist to be too *nice*, or overly empathic, even. I think we really want them to see and know all of us- and not to turn away,>

My T has expressed this to me. He says that patients want to be able to show the worst side of themselves and to reveal their deepest and most shameful secrets to their therapists and stil be liked and accepted. Most of the time I think my T does this but I am not always sure. I know that he doesn't like some of the things that I say and do, but I know that overall he does like and accept me. He has told me that he doesn't work with people he doesn't like but it doesn't think it would work.

 

Re: Does your Therapist get mad at you?

Posted by gardenergirl on July 10, 2004, at 9:00:03

In reply to Re: Does your Therapist get mad at you?, posted by lucy stone on July 10, 2004, at 8:43:22

I don't think I've seen any signs of anger in my T. The worst thing I think I saw was boredom, which in some ways, seems worse. It's like indifference. Anger at least would mean they care enough to be angry. I don't know how I would react. I'm sure I would cry, because I cry through all the sessions anyway. I probably would get defensive. It would defnintely be a part of transference/countertransference, though because I seem to be caught up right now in being the "good client" and needing his approval for that.

I can't think of a time I was ever really angry with a client in session. I have been frustrated with one or two who remain very closed because I get anxious to get "busy" with the work and have a harder time slowing down to the client's pace at times. But that usualy passes.

Hmmmm. I wonder what I would look like if I were angry. I do have an angry face, but I don't know what it looks like.

gg

 

Re: Does your Therapist get mad at you? Pfinstegg

Posted by Dinah on July 10, 2004, at 9:57:31

In reply to Re: Does your Therapist get mad at you? Dinah, posted by Pfinstegg on July 9, 2004, at 23:49:06

He doesn't admit to the bored. I'm sure he feels it some times. But when I detect "bored" from him, I call him on it and it instantly changes to denial and defensiveness which I greatly prefer. :)

Bored seems much worse than angry to me. I've heard of therapists telling their therapist that they're bored. Or that they don't seem connected today, which I'm pretty sure is the therapy euphemism for bored.

Mine is probably more likely to be irritated that I'm focussing on something we already covered (and should have fixed by now) or that doesn't seem to be important to him. Which usually leads to a spirited exchange of why it's important to *me*, and while that leads into the territory of anger again, it also helps him understand what's going on better. Which I like better than him sitting there being bored without trying to find out why I'm blabbering on and on about something.

 

Re: Does your Therapist get mad at you? gardenergirl

Posted by Dinah on July 10, 2004, at 10:09:14

In reply to Re: Does your Therapist get mad at you?, posted by gardenergirl on July 10, 2004, at 9:00:03

> Anger at least would mean they care enough to be angry.

I was wondering last night if that's why I don't mind anger as much as I would mind if he never got angry... But I don't think I deliberately induce anger in him, because I really don't enjoy it. What I *do* like is when I can get him to drawl. A drawl means I've touched him somehow, that there was an actual connection. The equivilant of looking for the grownups approval and delight, I suppose. I don't remember him drawling lately. D*mned new office. He drawled a lot more in the old one.

> I have been frustrated with one or two who remain very closed because I get anxious to get "busy" with the work and have a harder time slowing down to the client's pace at times. But that usualy passes.
>

I was also thinking last night that I would probably even make Gardenergirl or Daisy's sainted therapist angry. I'm a difficult and demanding therapy client. I can hold two diametrically opposed views at the exact same time and cling with equal stubbornness to both. I'm not shy about saying what's on my mind, while I also cringe and try desperately for approval. I look to him for all the answers given with complete assurance, but am pretty likely to reject any answer he gives me. Most mental health professionals can't stand me.

I'm a lucky therapy client, actually. :)

 

Re: Does your Therapist get mad at you?

Posted by Camille Dumont on July 10, 2004, at 18:42:17

In reply to Re: Does your Therapist get mad at you?, posted by Dinah on July 9, 2004, at 14:28:25

No way!

If she did she would sooooo be fired. I mean maybe it depends on your therapy and what you need but I know for myself there is no way I'd dish out 85$ an hour to get yelled at.

 

Re: Does your Therapist get mad at you?

Posted by steelmagnolia25 on July 10, 2004, at 19:19:30

In reply to Does your Therapist get mad at you?, posted by daisym on July 9, 2004, at 13:55:10

I'm so glad you started this topic. I actually have no idea how my T would express anger; he never even hinted during therapy that he was angry or frustrated. I've actually wished that I could see that side of him, just to see how he would handle it. When I went to him Friday and vented all sorts of angry thoughts, I was certain that something in that whole diatribe would set him off. Nope, nada. He was very calm the entire time and when I finished he asked for my "permission" to respond and defend himself, which he did very professionally. arghh!

I think I want to see his anger because it would be quite humanizing. Sometimes he is so calm that I just want to mess with that a little bit.

 

Re: Does your Therapist get mad at you?

Posted by Dinah on July 10, 2004, at 21:45:59

In reply to Re: Does your Therapist get mad at you?, posted by steelmagnolia25 on July 10, 2004, at 19:19:30

Oddly enough, I have this impulse to go in Monday and thank my therapist for getting mad with me. Maybe not so often, but....

I suddenly feel sort of lucky to have a therapist who gets angry with me, while still assuring me of his commitment. Is that horribly perverse?

 

Re: Does your Therapist get mad at you?

Posted by gardenergirl on July 11, 2004, at 1:27:48

In reply to Re: Does your Therapist get mad at you?, posted by Dinah on July 10, 2004, at 21:45:59

I don't think so at all. Like your T said, learning that anger can be part of relationships without destroying them would be an important lesson. Can I tell my T that he is "sainted"? Cause I always call him evil! :)

Take care,
gg

 

Re: Does your Therapist get mad at you? gardenergirl

Posted by Dinah on July 11, 2004, at 10:30:54

In reply to Re: Does your Therapist get mad at you?, posted by gardenergirl on July 11, 2004, at 1:27:48

Chuckle. Well, I actually meant Daisy's therapist was the sainted one. Although I'm sure yours is wonderful too. But I'm always jealous of Daisy's...

And of you, personally. I think you probably make a really terrific therapist who certainly doesn't get angry as much as my therapist does. But... I think I'd probably wear at your patience enough to make you angry too. :)

 

I don't know about that Dinah

Posted by daisym on July 11, 2004, at 14:41:42

In reply to Re: Does your Therapist get mad at you? gardenergirl, posted by Dinah on July 10, 2004, at 10:09:14

I'm not sure you could make my Therapist "mad" Dinah. He sort of gets outraged, or frustrated with things but he is such a gentle soul I truly can't imagine him yelling at anybody.

He's told me "I'm OK with hard. Hard work is what we do in here." He's also told me that for him "hard" is when I hold back and don't let him know about my conflicted thinking. He'd probably think you had great balance!

By the way, isn't that what a good therapist is supposed to do? See the merit of two opposing ideas on a spectrum? I still think you'd make a good Therapist yourself...

 

I agree with Daisy

Posted by gardenergirl on July 12, 2004, at 8:52:33

In reply to I don't know about that Dinah, posted by daisym on July 11, 2004, at 14:41:42

Dinah,
I agree with Daisy that you would make a great T. I would imagine that people around you benefit from your empathy. I know that we Babbler's do.

Just re-read your post and I see what you were saying about Daisy's sainted T.

Whether you would make me angry or not...hard to say. But I'd like you anyway!

Take care,
gg

 

Thanks Daisy and all :)

Posted by Dinah on July 12, 2004, at 15:47:32

In reply to I agree with Daisy, posted by gardenergirl on July 12, 2004, at 8:52:33

I relayed the general drift of this thread to my therapist and he laughed so hard!!! :) And I like it when I can make him laugh.

He even chimed in with me when I added "but maybe not quite so often" as my preference for having a therapist who got angry with me. ;)

 

Re: Does your Therapist get mad at you?

Posted by thewrite1 on July 13, 2004, at 23:38:04

In reply to Does your Therapist get mad at you?, posted by daisym on July 9, 2004, at 13:55:10

Oh yeah, she would never admit it, but she does. The tone of her voice changes when she gets frustrated with me, but it is pretty subtle. She's never raised her voice to me or anything. I'm pretty sure I'd run from the room crying if she did. For awhile there she was like a different person every time I went there. I found that I wasn't able to trust her that way. She was just coming at me differently every time because she was frustrated. I explained that I would rather see the same her every week and things got better between us. It's been awhile since she's gotten angry or frustrated with me.


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