Psycho-Babble Psychology Thread 767054

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What's Constitutes a Win?

Posted by TherapyGirl on July 1, 2007, at 19:38:52

Jammer asked me a question in the Camp Comfort thread that I think is interesting, so I'm starting a separate thread. Jammer wanted to know if I would have felt like I "won" an argument with my T if she had thanked me for sharing my feelings with her, but not changed anything. (I complained to my T one year when she was planning to miss 3 weeks during December and she ended up coming in on a Monday during one of the weeks to meet with me.)

It's a good question and basically where I am right now. She thanks me for sharing my feelings and acts like she wants me to continue to do so, she occasionally agrees with a point I've made (although not on the major points), she said one time to give her a chance to show me how she now gets what I've been trying to tell her, but the bottom line is that NOTHING HAS CHANGED. I still don't feel connected, she still doesn't seem to get it and now we are arguing about whose issue it is.

So what do you guys think constitutes a win in a disagreement with your T? Do they have to give in or just acknowledge your feelings?

 

Re: What's Constitutes a Win?

Posted by DAisym on July 2, 2007, at 1:47:49

In reply to What's Constitutes a Win?, posted by TherapyGirl on July 1, 2007, at 19:38:52

This is a really hard question because therapy isn't about winning or losing the argument, it is to help you understand yourself and your reactions to things better. I know you know that. So to that end, I think knowing that your feelings have been received and understood is possibly a win. Perhaps no change is needed, just more understanding about the origin of something, etc.

But if it is a process issue, and they make a mistake, I think acknowledgement and change equal the win. Like Dinah and the cell phone issue. It is a win because her therapist is turning off the phone.

And sometimes, even if he acknowledges something, and then changes it, it still doesn't feel like a win because I'll feel like it is just a hollow victory. I want him to get it all right the first time around!

 

Re: What's Constitutes a Win?

Posted by Honore on July 2, 2007, at 9:08:07

In reply to Re: What's Constitutes a Win?, posted by DAisym on July 2, 2007, at 1:47:49

It's hard to define what's enough in a situation where I'm very unhappy about what my T is doing-- or really need him to be doing something else (not going away for such a long time).

The phrase," Thanks for telling me," or "we can keep on talking about this," in many instances doesn't give enough. It's more a repetition (or feels like it) of the old situation of parents or others whose claims of caring seemed empty or dishonest, because whatever they said, they always would continue their emotional absense or hurtfulness, or unpredictability, or intrusiveness, or whatever it might be.

However technically true, the phrase is disappointing, and not enough of an answer to abandonment, or hurtfulness. It doesn't show anything, except a certain type of supposedly willingness to listen. But it's the conversation that ensues, and how the T can respond that will (or won't) help. Having faith that it will help isn't something one comes in with-- it only evolves, slowly, through good experiences with someone.

But, one thing: there are moments when it comes to feel like a power struggle, but I think the question jammer and Therapygirl are concerned with is about much more. It isn't what constitutes a win, but what constitutes enough of a response, to reach beyond the sense of abandonment and repetition, and transform the abandoner and abandoned person, into different people (or give you a sense of a different meaning of the event). That is, to see your T differently from your old experiences. As someone who's staying in spirit, for example, even if they're going-- and not really abandoning you, even if they can't stay.

That doesn't mean the T has to stay or give up vacation--in fact, that, by itself, wouldn't help enough, although it could be part of helping at certain times. But "let's talk about it" isn't enough either. It tends to sound rote, and self-protective, like a way out of having to do anything. The emotional work isn't done.--only gestured toward So of course, until something else, emotionally, happens, one tend s to expect some sort of hurtful repetition-- and to find the T;s answer so empty, like an empty promise that already hasn't been fulfilled. Whether there are ways of fulfilling the promise is what's at stake-- and until you know there are, it's a terrible feeling, to have only the empty-seeming promise.
Honore

 

Re: What's Constitutes a Win? Honore

Posted by TherapyGirl on July 2, 2007, at 18:34:19

In reply to Re: What's Constitutes a Win?, posted by Honore on July 2, 2007, at 9:08:07

Amen, Honore. Especially this:

<<But, one thing: there are moments when it comes to feel like a power struggle, but I think the question jammer and Therapygirl are concerned with is about much more. It isn't what constitutes a win, but what constitutes enough of a response, to reach beyond the sense of abandonment and repetition, and transform the abandoner and abandoned person, into different people (or give you a sense of a different meaning of the event). That is, to see your T differently from your old experiences. As someone who's staying in spirit, for example, even if they're going-- and not really abandoning you, even if they can't stay.>>

One of the many things my T is saying to me now is that this feels like "old stuff" to her -- that I am reacting as if I'm 3 and she's my mother and she's abandoning me. In moments, she admits to the distance (one of the things she said to me on the phone last week is that she has to, "keep a distance from everybody right now."), but thinks that I should trust her and our connection enough to weather it. I can't seem to do that, though, especially when the behavior doesn't change and she doesn't seem to understand what I'm telling her.

It's so very frustrating. I am really at my wit's end. And, no, I have no idea what would satisfy me in this situation. And I have no idea how to get the connection back.

 

Re: What's Constitutes a Win? TherapyGirl

Posted by Dinah on July 2, 2007, at 21:11:13

In reply to Re: What's Constitutes a Win? Honore, posted by TherapyGirl on July 2, 2007, at 18:34:19

Sounds like something is going on in her real life?

I can only offer my own experience. When my therapist was going through Katrina, he really handled it much worse than I did. He admits now, and admitted at the time, that he wasn't at his best and couldn't really be there for me in the way I needed.

He used my own analogy (one that I borrowed from Alan Alda's "The Four Seasons") that a long term relationship was like a wave, with crests and troughs. And he asked me to hold on through the trough. To just keep coming, and to realize that he would be himself again when he could be. It was at least a year before he was near himself again. And now, after another year, I'm starting to trust that he'll be himself again.

I know now, in a way that I didn't before, that what happened then can happen again. He's not a perfectly safe emotional harbor. He will let me down. Things will never be the same as they were before. But hopefully things will stay good enough.

Is what's going on with her something that will eventually be better for her?

 

Re: What's Constitutes a Win? Dinah

Posted by TherapyGirl on July 3, 2007, at 16:26:18

In reply to Re: What's Constitutes a Win? TherapyGirl, posted by Dinah on July 2, 2007, at 21:11:13

Thanks for reminding me of your story, Dinah. It helps to remember that you two found your way back to each other. Maybe we can, too.

I do have a question for you -- what would you have done if he had not been able to "get himself together?" I know you hung in there for a long while. Do you have any feel for how long you would have continued under those circumstances?

One of the problems with my T is that she only intermittently admits that she's put some distance there -- usually then only when she's frustrated with me and speaks out of turn. Then she goes right back to basically denying it -- or at least she denies that this is different. But it is different. And the more she says it's not the more crazy-making the situation is for me.

But, based on your experience, I'm going to give it some more time and her another few chances to make this right.

 

Re: What's Constitutes a Win? TherapyGirl

Posted by Dinah on July 3, 2007, at 17:19:29

In reply to Re: What's Constitutes a Win? Dinah, posted by TherapyGirl on July 3, 2007, at 16:26:18

Well, I think the key was that this was clearly an external situation that affected our relationship. He didn't change the relationship because of the relationship. That's why I asked if something was going on in her real life.

Since it was something external, I guess I always hoped that it would eventually fix itself, even if it was hard to keep that hope alive. I have a tendency to stay stick things out far longer than I should, and I daresay this would have been no different. I don't think I'd advise staying indefinitely in a bad situation.

Can you refresh my memory again? I have this feeling you two have been together a long time and she's getting older, but it's entirely possible I have you confused with someone else. What's happened to change things?

I still can't say that it didn't leave scars. Today he told me he was opening an office closer to where he lives (which is a town outside the city). He kept trying to reassure me that he wasn't trying to stop seeing me, that he was going to keep coming to town, and that if I wanted to see him there it wasn't really so far. But it sent me hiding back to my shell like a turtle. Too close to those old circumstances.

 

Re: What's Constitutes a Win? Dinah

Posted by TherapyGirl on July 3, 2007, at 18:22:44

In reply to Re: What's Constitutes a Win? TherapyGirl, posted by Dinah on July 3, 2007, at 17:19:29

I think it is an external situation. Things seem to have gone down several notches ever since she missed a week in April to attend a funeral. She had planned to come back after a couple of days, but then called me on that Tues. to say she just couldn't do it. We had one decent session after that and the following one was when the other client knocked on the door during my session and then was waiting just outside the door when I came out. She still doesn't understand how completely freaked out I am by that.

But mostly she's just not getting things about me she used to get. One of the things I told her last week when she said she didn't call me back because I didn't say it was an emergency was, "I didn't think I had to. You *know* how freaked out I am by all things gynecological. You are the only one who knows how bad it was for me in March. Six months ago I wouldn't have HAD to say it was an emergency." She says that's not true and that I'm rewriting history. I beg to differ.

I think my real fear here is that this is another step down the long road to retirement. I have seen her for 22 years -- half my life. Almost two years ago, she went part-time and moved her office to the place from hell. But she has still been available to me most of the time in a way she completely hasn't been since April. But she doesn't see it that way so here we sit.

I hate it, I hate it, I hate it.

But I'm going to keep your words in my mind and try to hang in there a while longer to see if we can work it out.

P.S. The office move thing would freak me out, too. Don't they get that CHANGE IS BAD?????????


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