Psycho-Babble Psychology Thread 910727

Shown: posts 1 to 10 of 10. This is the beginning of the thread.

 

The Other Side of the Relationship

Posted by Daisym on August 7, 2009, at 1:25:33


We were talking above about how to manage so many of the hard things that come up from being attached to a person with whom there are limits - especially limited contact. I'm wondering if we can share experiences about how our therapists manage their feelings about us.

This came up for me especially strong this week. I've been more depressed lately and under a huge amount of pressure. It makes me want to lash out - hurt myself or others. My therapist and I talked about this dark side of me and the more we went into it, the more upset I got. I left super upset and stayed that way. I was so upset that I skipped therapy yesterday - I went but couldn't make myself get out of the car. I had my phone off and it took me 2 1/2 hours to call him. By this time, he'd left me three messages, and looked for me all over town. He finally emailed me late last night, asking me to please tell him what was happening. We traded emails several times and he convinced me to come in today and talk it out.

It was a heavy discussion. He told me I scared him, which I'd already realized. But then he told me that he was also hurt. He felt brushed aside, like he didn't matter. The not calling really bothered him, as much as he tried to understand. But he said his anxiety won out over his hurt and he felt he needed to keep reaching out to me. He said he struggled with wanting to give me space but also letting me know he was worried. And he said he also need to touch base for himself - to calm his own worries. It surprised me - this show of caring. I figured he would be mad. And I think he was, some. But it really surprised me that I could hurt him - again, if he didn't care, it wouldn't hurt. We talked about that a lot. He said in all relationships, eventually there is hurt. But hopefully the good times have provided enough credit to get through the tougher stuff.

I'm learning that I can have an effect on my therapist, just like he has on me. It isn't that it ever crosses the boundaries, but he seems as invested in this relationship as I am. The intensity differs, but not the commitment to it.

 

Re: The Other Side of the Relationship Daisym

Posted by Ladybelle31 on August 7, 2009, at 9:35:41

In reply to The Other Side of the Relationship, posted by Daisym on August 7, 2009, at 1:25:33

Hi Daisym, thats a very interesting question and I totally can relate. Im sorry youre going through this. I dont have a good answer for you unfortunatelybut wanted to share something that happened to me last week I found myself in similar situation where I was so angry and mad at my therapist tooI had emailed him and was intentionally mean to him and pointed out some personal faults of his and I was wanting some sort of a personal reaction out of him to see if he cared about me. He emailed me back and said he was sorry and that he wasnt mad at mewhich only made me feel worse as these were the assumed correct answers. I actually am jealous (but in a good way of course!) that your therapist was that connected to you.
To make a long story short, we talked and he pointed out that really Im acting childishly now because I was emotionally abandoned by my mother and as a result, now Im responding on outside as a child (being angry/temper tantrums) and inside (wanting to feel special/positive feedback) This made sense to me-but I admit it didnt make me feel better at allI asked him why he couldnt provide me a feel good therapy session and that I felt I needed now a good paid for friend to make me feel better- as isnt that the point of therapy? He said wed talk about this in future sessions.
Thanks for posting your question thoughI think its really hard to find people who actually understand these feelings we have about our therapists. At least you know he cares about you...but at same time, that's just him doing his job everyday correctly

 

Re: The Other Side of the Relationship Daisym

Posted by seldomseen on August 7, 2009, at 12:20:02

In reply to The Other Side of the Relationship, posted by Daisym on August 7, 2009, at 1:25:33

I know that I have had an effect on my therapist - though potentially not all bad. I know he thinks about me outside of sessions, he's told me and he brings me things - like newspaper articles about tigers, or, once when he was abroad, he brought me a little journal from the Freud museum. It wasn't much, but I do treasure it.

He is also absolutely intrigued by my fascination with blood (it's not as bad as you think, I'm a benign hematology researcher) and had consulted with me on the effect of SSRIs on blood clotting. He was very nice about it, let the session go over so I wouldn't have to pay him for my expert opinion. To be fair, though, I *was* shortchanged - I bill out at 300+ an hour ;).

He's very open about his countertransference and has expressed the times where he has notably felt a special tenderness for me and the like. He has also expressed his frustration - pointedly so.

Not that my story is any worse than anyone's here, but I do worry about the sadness that must also touch him about certain things in my life, because they *are* sad. I guess he has heard so many stories that he has learned to carry them. I truly think he believes he can help (which he can) and that must alleviate some of the burden

Sort of like "yes this happened, but I can do something about it" That would be a powerful insulator in my opinion.

Seldom

 

Re: The Other Side of the Relationship seldomseen

Posted by Daisym on August 7, 2009, at 15:28:39

In reply to Re: The Other Side of the Relationship Daisym, posted by seldomseen on August 7, 2009, at 12:20:02

I wanted to echo what you wrote about the sadness part. There have been times when we've sat in a session in this unbearable sadness and I know he is totally with me. I ask him about vicarious traumatization a lot. He says he holds the hope, which makes it all worth it.

As far as the good with the bad...my therapist said recently, "hey, I've got a bunch of daisies growing in my garden this year. I'm amazed at how strong they are as compared to some of my more fragile flowers. Reminds me of you." I loved that!

 

Re: The Other Side of the Relationship Daisym

Posted by sunnydays on August 7, 2009, at 20:07:18

In reply to The Other Side of the Relationship, posted by Daisym on August 7, 2009, at 1:25:33

Hi Daisy,
I haven't talked about this with my T specifically, but we've talked close to it sometimes. I know that he does worry about me sometimes and that he does wish that he could take the sadness away from me. One time when I was feeling particularly low he called my dorm room when I was asleep and I didn't get up to answer the phone. He left me a message to call him back. He then called me back and said that if I hadn't called back when I did, he would have called Security to come check on me because he was worried about me. I felt really bad about that (although I never told him), because I don't think I was in quite as bad a place as he was imagining.

I struggle with this. On the one hand, sometimes I really like it to know that my therapist is concerned about me, because it means he cares and it's easy for me to tell that and there's no question in my mind then. On the other hand, I carry around all these messages that tell me it's wrong to 'make' another person worry about you and that I really am not important enough for anyone to be concerned about and that my needs and wants don't matter.

At our last session my T challenged one of my thoughts by saying, "Well, I disagree with you, but if you want to think that way, then ok." (I will admit I can be a little stubborn at times...) I immediately felt rejected and pushed away, and I told him that I felt like he said, "Fine, think that way, I don't care, go away". He was surprised that disagreeing with me felt like such a strong rejection to me. After that, I was kind of spiraling into this state where nothing he could say that was remotely challenging was right and I felt like every single thing I did was wrong, even when I think he was trying to comfort me a little and bring me out of it. I remember at one point he said, "It seems like when you hear something that doesn't exactly fit what you are feeling in the moment or that challenges the way you think, it feels like a huge rejection or abandonment." I interpreted that as "There's something very wrong with you, you're supposed to be able to handle me saying those things, you're not doing this right."

I told him this, and he said, "Says who?" in this very gentle voice and reminded me that there's no 'supposed to's' in therapy and that there wasn't a right way to think or feel. I still struggle with this -- if my feelings need to be 'challenged', then doesn't that obviously mean that they are not the 'correct' feelings/thoughts to be having in that situation?

I curled up in a ball and started crying and I had a blanket around me, which I almost never do, and he said, "I bet you really want to be taken care of after having been through what you have lately, is that part of the want you have been talking about?" I nodded and then I said, "I really want a hug." And then I started crying and I said, "I miss my dad," and he said, "Would he give you a hug?" And I said yes, and he encouraged me to talk to him that night. And eventually he said, "You asked for a hug, and I'm not going to do that for you. It's nothing at all at all to do with you, it's about what I believe about how to be a therapist." And he paused and then he said, "That must be really hard to hear" and I nodded and I was crying. And after I left I left him a message and sent him two emails, and he ended up calling me back without me specifically asking, which was so nice of him. And he talked to me for ten whole minutes and was very nice and like I kind of wish he'd been in session.

I have no idea where I am going with this post. I think I'm still really trying to process this session with my T and somehow your post reminded me of it and I got to rambling. Sorry... hopefully there's something useful in there maybe? I'm struggling right now - I got a call for an interview, which should be a good thing, but I just don't even want to do it, it seems like so much effort, and I just want to hide from the world.

Hang in there. We can sit together and eat ice cream, if you want.

sunnydays

 

Re: The Other Side of the Relationship sunnydays

Posted by Ladybelle31 on August 7, 2009, at 22:06:18

In reply to Re: The Other Side of the Relationship Daisym, posted by sunnydays on August 7, 2009, at 20:07:18

I got something out of your post-thanks sunnydays for sharing your experience--I wish your therapist had given you a hug for comfort when you needed it, but although I've never asked mine I know he would say no ( he is very professional and always wears a nice sports jacket, suit, dress shoes, watch- I've never seen him dress casual) I actually realized i've never touched him ( he doesn't greet me with a hand shake and I'm all about having my personal space).
Anyways, trying to get back to original topic about if therapist's feelings are effected by us--I asked my therapist straight up after I sent him an upset email whether his feelings were hurt by what I had said--he was puzzeled and thought a few seconds before he responded-he said he read it initially and then took a few times to re-read it and consider my view point and thats where he concluded some of what I had mentioned was valid and he saw my reasons for being upset. I realized when asking him this it was kinda a trick question because the answer in words didn't matter as I found out the answer non-verbally by his pausing to respond and his wanting to pick right words did in fact show me I had some effect on him personally. That being said, I felt horrible after leaving and so guilty and sad for being so mean and angry at such a nice person clearly trying to help me. I think he does care about me and it's good for us to be aware that therapist's are real people too--since I think the goal of therapy is to help us learn how to build healthy relationships with other people and use our therapist's as a model to teach us these skills--it would't help us learn this without being forced to acknowlege your therapist's feelings are important as well, right? It's so hard and a constant struggle for me! I really appreciate everyone sharing these difficult stories

 

Re: The Other Side of the Relationship Daisym

Posted by Dinah on August 8, 2009, at 23:40:48

In reply to The Other Side of the Relationship, posted by Daisym on August 7, 2009, at 1:25:33

I really do love your therapist. :)

Mine would never have been vulnerable like that. Of course mine isn't overly given to self reflection...

He is invested in our relationship. Not in the same way I am, because he has to temper his investment with my best interests in mind. He has to maintain a certain detachment. But I think he's that way in general too, so part of it is who he is.

He certainly has emotional reactions to the things I say and do. He's ridiculously transparent most of the time, so it's easy to follow them. He's even disclosed, to a limited extent, ways that I affect him other than the moment to moment ways.

But I think it would scare me if I actually thought I had any real ability to hurt him. He's said I do have that ability. I tend to dismiss that idea for many reasons, but it may be at least in part because I wouldn't feel free to be as open as I need to be in therapy if I thought that I could really hurt him.

Strange, since if I can't really hurt him, then I can't really touch him in any meaningful way either.

 

Re: The Other Side of the Relationship Daisym

Posted by antigua3 on August 9, 2009, at 13:07:34

In reply to The Other Side of the Relationship, posted by Daisym on August 7, 2009, at 1:25:33

This is an interesting topic.

I know I matter to my therapist, but she is only forthcoming on her positive feelings towards me, except she did tell me that if I did something drastic without talking to her first, she would be very angry at me. That took me completely by surprise.

I don't think my psychiatrist has feelings about me, so I don't think he has any to manage, unless it's irritation, which he still hides well.

I believe that they just don't think about me outside the session. I don't get any sense of that.
antigua

 

Re: The Other Side of the Relationship sunnydays

Posted by Dinah on August 9, 2009, at 21:58:12

In reply to Re: The Other Side of the Relationship Daisym, posted by sunnydays on August 7, 2009, at 20:07:18

> At our last session my T challenged one of my thoughts by saying, "Well, I disagree with you, but if you want to think that way, then ok." (I will admit I can be a little stubborn at times...) I immediately felt rejected and pushed away, and I told him that I felt like he said, "Fine, think that way, I don't care, go away". He was surprised that disagreeing with me felt like such a strong rejection to me. After that, I was kind of spiraling into this state where nothing he could say that was remotely challenging was right and I felt like every single thing I did was wrong, even when I think he was trying to comfort me a little and bring me out of it. I remember at one point he said, "It seems like when you hear something that doesn't exactly fit what you are feeling in the moment or that challenges the way you think, it feels like a huge rejection or abandonment."

Is it possible that it wasn't because he disagreed with you that you were upset but that he withdrew? I don't mind if my therapist disagrees with me or even shouts at me. But when he turns away with a comment like that, I get really upset. It's a breaking of the thread of connection between us.

I prefer it when he says something like "I know you feel that way," in gentle tones. It isn't so much a withdrawal.

 

Re: The Other Side of the Relationship

Posted by emmanuel98 on August 11, 2009, at 19:44:23

In reply to Re: The Other Side of the Relationship sunnydays, posted by Dinah on August 9, 2009, at 21:58:12

I have been in and out of the hospital recently because my depression became so severe. My T called my husband and he talked to my daughter on the phone (with my permission). My sister also called him and he told her he couldn't really discuss my case with her. They all said -- he's really worried about you. He cares so much about you.

Once I got out of control with anxiety and he got mad and said -- why didn't you call me and tell me?

So I know he cares, though his boundaries are very strong and he would never, ever hug me.


This is the end of the thread.


Show another thread

URL of post in thread:


Psycho-Babble Psychology | Extras | FAQ


[dr. bob] Dr. Bob is Robert Hsiung, MD, bob@dr-bob.org

Script revised: February 4, 2008
URL: http://www.dr-bob.org/cgi-bin/pb/mget.pl
Copyright 2006-17 Robert Hsiung.
Owned and operated by Dr. Bob LLC and not the University of Chicago.