Psycho-Babble Psychology Thread 943360

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commitment from therapist

Posted by deerock on April 14, 2010, at 7:29:05

hello there,

ive been having a rocky road with my therapist where i have been repeatedly considering leaving because i feel like she isnt very helpful. i vocalize this and clearly it affects her and has made for some difficult sessions.

last week, i ran into some issues i had with things she had said and when i brought them up over the phone via voicemail and asked her to call back she didnt. she had in the past. when i saw her in session the following week i said i felt abandoned by her because she did not return my calls. she said its hard for her to stay committed and "in" the relationship when I am constantly threatening to flee.

clearly that makes sense but there is a part of me that thinks that because this a situation where i am paying her and she is a professional, isnt it her job not to let that get in the way? or is it unreasonable for me to expect that?

i can see how a friend may say hey, youre unsure if you like me so i dont want to invest in you...but for a therapist to say that? it seems immature and unprofessional.



Re: commitment from therapist

Posted by pegasus on April 14, 2010, at 8:15:35

In reply to commitment from therapist, posted by deerock on April 14, 2010, at 7:29:05

I agree.

The only thing is that sometimes therapists will bring their reactions into the room like that if they think it's something you do in your regular life, and they're trying to help you see how it affects other people and leads to reactions that are problematic for you. But in my experience, they usually are more explicit about the fact that they're doing that, and it sounds less personal. Something more like, "There have been several occasions lately when you've mentioned that you're not sure you want to stay in therapy. That seems similar to challenging times you've described in other relationships. For example, it reminds me of the time you said XXX to YYY, and then they stopped calling you. I want to let you know that I have a similar impulse when that pattern happens in here. I bring it up because I think it might be helpful to talk about how that kind of thing affects the people in your life.

But that's not happening in your therapy, so I might conclude that either your T is out of line, or not very skilled at what she's trying to do, therapeutically.

Good luck with this. Let us know how it goes.



Re: commitment from therapist

Posted by deerock on April 14, 2010, at 9:59:56

In reply to Re: commitment from therapist, posted by pegasus on April 14, 2010, at 8:15:35

thanks peg. she did just call me to tell me she felt cornered by me and that was why she didnt call back because she felt it would escalate things.

she felt that i cornered her in my voicemail and she didnt have much time so if she had called back, things would get out of control if we tried to talk about it.

she is right. i did kind of corner her.

but i wonder if that changes my point. if i elicit feelings in my therapist accidentally (i didnt intend to corner her) is it right for her to let those feelings get in the way of our therapy and for her to abandon me by not calling me back?

if i act "badly" towards my therapist, is it helpful for her to retreat and disappear? she isnt handling the behavior head on.


Re: commitment from therapist

Posted by rnny on April 14, 2010, at 16:48:07

In reply to commitment from therapist, posted by deerock on April 14, 2010, at 7:29:05

Even if she feels the way she said she does, I don't see what that had to do with common manners of returning a phone call. A T can assert their feelings about their role in the therapeutic relationship, yes. As long as they are doing so with the client's best interest at heart.


Re: commitment from therapist

Posted by tetrix on April 14, 2010, at 18:17:05

In reply to commitment from therapist, posted by deerock on April 14, 2010, at 7:29:05

I had a somewhat similar problem with my T, then she suggested that I go see other therapists..


Re: commitment from therapist

Posted by Willful on April 14, 2010, at 23:47:05

In reply to Re: commitment from therapist, posted by deerock on April 14, 2010, at 9:59:56

Without being in the situation, it's awfully hard to know what your T's motives in saying that were. She might have meant that she didn't have time for an in-depth phone call,and thought that you would be unsatisfied and that that might intensify your negative feelings about therapy.

It's harder to say whether it's "unprofessional" for your T, in this instance to say these things. It's certainly not acting well in the role of the T to let these things "get in the way." Obviously, it's a T's job not to let them get in the way, but rather to use feelings as part of being helpful. The question would be, is it helpful for you. did she make a therapeutic decision to tell you that she's feeling that way. If she's acting as a T, she would have to have a reason for communicating the feelings, as opposed to handling them privately, and continuing with therapy.

I don't know enough about you and your T and the situation to guess whether she's lost her therapeutic stance, or if she thinks for some reason, it's important in your case to be very open about how you affect her. Hypothetically, for example, she might think you've been misled or lied to about people's feelings, or been in a home with parents who were very closed and hard to know-- and it could very important for you to have that degree of transparency about what she feels--which she might not do with other patients. (Again, that's a hypothetical situation.) So she might be deciding to tell you these feelings for a reason.

It might also be a way of letting you know how your rejection affects other people-- that they will find it hard to be there in a continuous and stable way because you do throw seem like you'll abandon them-- etc

You should check with her-- maybe as others have suggested, asking the questions about her reasons-- without threatening to quit, or implying that she's been unprofessional. If she does feel that she can't be fully professional with you, I hope she would either have consultation with another T to work on her issues with that-- or would refer you to another therapist who's more appropriate. You seem to have a turbulent relationship with her-- and to lose confidence, so it may also be an issue that you struggle with. It's best to keep moving forward in these situations, unless you judge that she really can't help you-- often there are twists and losses of confidence or trust in therapy, and you need to hold on, and keep going, to get to a place where you feel stronger and more able to trust a T.

It's hard to do, I know.


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