Psycho-Babble Psychology Thread 795906

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Are your therapists open to feedback?

Posted by Dinah on November 19, 2007, at 10:32:21

I've sometimes gotten the impression that the things I say to my therapist are out of the ordinary.

Do people feel comfortable engaging in dialogue about their therapist's role in the relationship? Questioning things that seem to be coming from them?

Some of the biggest moments in therapy have been a realization by him or by me about how we're relating. And it's just as helpful when it isn't mine.

I've always been careful not to ask even the teeniest thing about the him outside therapy. And to begin with, I think I thought it was bad form to mention what I was noticing *in* therapy. But when I got the courage to do that, and was met with a positive reaction, I found it made a huge difference in sorting out what was mine and what was his, or how much I was distorting reality.

I have to credit him to be willing to do rigorous self examination about himself in his role of therapist. He never responds to me in these matters without a period of silence where he really does seem to be considering what I'm saying and comparing it to what he's feeling and sensing about himself.

I know that sometimes what I say here sounds confrontational, and it almost never is confrontational in person. Attitude and tone and subtle word choices that don't come across in a summary of what happened are very important in setting the tone. And the tone is usually a frank one, but laced with the mutual caring that I think we both really trust in.

 

Re: Are your therapists open to feedback? Dinah

Posted by Deputy 10derHeart on November 19, 2007, at 11:20:17

In reply to Are your therapists open to feedback?, posted by Dinah on November 19, 2007, at 10:32:21

Oh goodness, yes. In fact, if I was forced to put a number to it, I'd say about 50% of our session time is spent on "our" relationship. I have always been (okay.....not 'always'....but say after about 6 months, give or take) frank with him and insistent on knowing if he perceived the same stuff I did about many things - how he sounded, say, looked, different tones of voice, all of it.

In my adult personal history, I've had [allegedly- b/c now I can't see how these could have had "real" emotional intimacy)] intimate relationships where there were 'rules.' No crying. No mentioning certain subjects. No acting too "childish." No touching the other person (not sexual, just affectionate stuff) unless the other person did it first. No saying "the wrong thing," (???) or else = somet form of abusive response. And so on and so forth as nauseum.

So for me, the fact my T. and I are secure in the warmth, mutual respect and commitment to the process, is really healing and liberating. And we wouldn't be doing this without my blunt and challenging style. Thinking back, some of the best, most connected moments in that room started with me examining the relationship, and us going up and down, back and forth till we reached some sort of 'meeting point'

I don't believe I would have stayed with this T. in the very beginning if he'd shown any signs of not being open to feedback. It's too triggering and unhelpful for me to sit in a room, in the sort of space therapy is supposed to be (for me, anyway) with someone who restricts you from discussing what they bring there. It just wouldn't work for me at all.

You're so right, Dinah, about the subtle tone, word choices and so on. It's extremely difficult to show those accurately here.

 

oops, please ignore that' Deputy' title (nm)

Posted by 10derHeart on November 19, 2007, at 11:22:01

In reply to Re: Are your therapists open to feedback? Dinah, posted by Deputy 10derHeart on November 19, 2007, at 11:20:17

 

Re: Are your therapists open to feedback?

Posted by Dinah on November 19, 2007, at 11:35:07

In reply to Re: Are your therapists open to feedback? Dinah, posted by Deputy 10derHeart on November 19, 2007, at 11:20:17

> So for me, the fact my T. and I are secure in the warmth, mutual respect and commitment to the process, is really healing and liberating.

I love that description. Is it ok to borrow it? It sounds as if we have similar therapy relationships. Warmth, mutual respect, and commitment to the process is *exactly* right.

> And we wouldn't be doing this without my blunt and challenging style. Thinking back, some of the best, most connected moments in that room started with me examining the relationship, and us going up and down, back and forth till we reached some sort of 'meeting point'

We do that too! We occasionally agree to disagree but that leaves what feels like a little grain of sand in an oyster. It rankles and irritates on a very low level. But most of the time we at least go back and forth to a statement we both can agree on. Sometimes that just means understanding and acknowledging the other person's point of view without actual agreement.

As time goes on that becomes less and less necessary of course.

I think we arrived to the same destination by different roads. I was never discouraged to say exactly what I thought. But I find mixed signals crazymaking. If what he's saying doesn't match with what I'm feeling from him, I get incrediby upset until I figure it out. Too much so, I'm sure.

 

Re: Are your therapists open to feedback?

Posted by Muffled on November 19, 2007, at 12:18:47

In reply to Re: Are your therapists open to feedback?, posted by Dinah on November 19, 2007, at 11:35:07

I think feed back is good and very important.
My T is much better at it now.
Interesting.
M

 

Re: Are your therapists open to feedback? Dinah

Posted by sunnydays on November 19, 2007, at 12:38:16

In reply to Are your therapists open to feedback?, posted by Dinah on November 19, 2007, at 10:32:21

My therapist is incredibly open to feedback and really encourages me to tell him what works and what doesn't work. Although I don't like telling him what works because then he overdoes it and it feels forced. :) He also tells me it's ok to be mad at him about something, throw a pillow at him, etc. (although he's said I'm the only one that he'd probably be ok with throwing something at him since I never get angry). He really if he senses I'm the least bit unhappy with something he's done he tries to pull it out of me.

And he's getting to know what bugs me, and he's said sometimes that he won't not bring certain topics up because we shouldn't have things we 'can't' talk about, but that it's not because he doesn't care how I'm feeling and he does realize how it will affect me, etc.

I think any T worth their salt should be open to feedback. I think it can be a valuable source of information about the client to know what they find helpful or not, if nothing else!

sunnydays

 

Re: Are your therapists open to feedback?

Posted by Maria01 on November 19, 2007, at 19:54:28

In reply to Are your therapists open to feedback?, posted by Dinah on November 19, 2007, at 10:32:21

I wouldn't want to work with a T who wasn't open to feedback...

 

Re: Are your therapists open to feedback?

Posted by annierose on November 19, 2007, at 22:21:32

In reply to Are your therapists open to feedback?, posted by Dinah on November 19, 2007, at 10:32:21

Of course! and it goes both ways ... although it's always easier to give her my feedback than to receive hers.

 

Re: Are your therapists open to feedback? annierose

Posted by Dinah on November 19, 2007, at 22:40:59

In reply to Re: Are your therapists open to feedback?, posted by annierose on November 19, 2007, at 22:21:32

Chuckle.

My therapist and I both are very careful to polish and bevel the truth before we make a gift of it to each other. It makes it much easier to accept graciously.

 

Re: Are your therapists open to feedback?

Posted by Dinah on November 19, 2007, at 22:42:46

In reply to Are your therapists open to feedback?, posted by Dinah on November 19, 2007, at 10:32:21

I'm glad most therapists seem to be!

It seems odd to me now that in the beginning I felt so constrained about it. It really did seem to me that it was none of my business. I wonder how I got over that?

 

Re: Are your therapists open to feedback?

Posted by twinleaf on November 20, 2007, at 1:13:26

In reply to Are your therapists open to feedback?, posted by Dinah on November 19, 2007, at 10:32:21

Yes, definitely. It's at least half of what we do. The other half involves talking about traumas of the past- that part is usually very tear-filled. But we keep circling back to US- there is the room together. I find that, at times, the most terrifying part. He often looks at me, very kindly but intently, and asks, "what?" The "what's" could be my thinking that he looks tired, or that I like the shirt he is wearing, or that he looks happy (and probably had sex last night!), or that I feel rage because I feel he hasn't understood me, etc.). They can also include a range of very private feelings about myself that I absolutely NEVER planned on mentioning to anyone.. It's a very new experience to explore all these things openly with another human being. He is really good at welcoming everything. I have never seen him get uncomfortable or defensive. We exchange feelings and thoughts, and then exchange more and more of them. Often, after a lot of hard work along those lines, we sometimes lapse into silence. During those times, I feel so happy, so connected to him. And I think he feels the same. I feel known, and I believe HE does, too. I hope so.

He told me that, as an analyst, he was not trained to work in this way, but had gradually discovered that it was the relationship itself which was the principal healing factor. That, and the grieving for past losses and traumas. He wants me to go over and over those, as long as I need to.

I think he feels that the relationship aspect is somewhat mysterious, that not all therapists can provide the needed relationship for all patients. Like falling in love, an essential part of it is unknowable- you just can't pin it down in words. He said one day that he wished there were a better way for patients to find a therapist who is right for them than hit-or-miss referrals and descriptions. Because increasing numbers of therapists (in our area anyway) have posted online photos, we began some light-hearted brainstorming about how best to do that, and came up with the idea that therapists should have 500 or 1000 digital photos taken very quickly by someone they feel very comfortable with. No posing for the camera. Then, the therapist should choose the one of himself he likes best- that would be the one to post.


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