Winding road of therapy – Terrible Therapist. Part 8.

 

I don’t hold any grudge against therapists, doctors, nurses or the mental health field. Sometimes it just isn’t a match and not everybody is a master in his/hers craft.  This is a post in my series ‘The winding road of therapy’.

 

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In July I was on medication for about 4 or 6 weeks and it was time to find me a therapist. My doctor told me it was important to prevent a relapse in the future. I thought so too. I did what I always do and browsed the internet. A lot of fancy descriptions passed my screen, many young ladies who are capable to address a wide variety of life problems. None of them really gained my trust. I thought about ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy).  That was a group therapy with fixed dates and I also wanted to go on a holiday as soon as it was possible. It wasn’t a fit.

 

In yet another meeting my doctor concluded that I have gained the all the insights one can get through talktherapy. Hands up for psychoanalysis! His initial opinion was that it is not efficient and time consuming. HA! He referred me to a dramatherapist. ‘To feel more and think less’.

 

I called the lady several times, every time it went to voice mail. I called on different days, a week later and on different hours. I wanted to make an appointment. A week later I received a text with a few possible dates and the address. No other information, I didn’t know how much it would cost, if I could pay with card or cash. It poured that day and I went. She was nice, there was a place to put my soaking coat and we sat down.

 

I gave her a brief introduction to my problems and we started. I needed to put puppets on a table and portray my situation in that way. The small doll I chose to represent me was all alone on the table. Tears came up.

 

‘Do you feel lonely or are you lonely?’ I cleared up the semantics ‘cause I knew very well what she was asking but I also knew what I was saying. I felt belittled. (In Dutch there a two different words for ‘feeling’ and  ‘being’ alone).

 

Now we move on to your desired situation’. I place some more puppets on the table. Couldn’t find a dog in the basket so took another animal. There were puppets of color too. ‘You can use them too, it doesn’t matter’. I don’t care what color ‘my’ puppet has, there was no need to put it like that. But maybe I’m being a snowflake.

 

So we passed very smoothly by my loneliness problems and she asked some more questions. What I’ve studied, how my childhood went and how many hours per week I would be willing to work, ‘because she was not in favor of people being too long on sick leave’.

 

She asked me what I wanted. ‘I want to be me‘. ‘There is no such thing‘, she answered. ‘Ok’, I thought. That was strange to me because I thought that was one of the main reasons I came. She assured me that she didn’t had a conversation with my psychiatrist but he told me he was giving her an introduction to my situation. I didn’t feel very safe in the session.

 

I was a child of abuse because my parents split up and are not on good terms.

 

She stated that ‘I was a child of abuse’ because my parents split up before I was born but they still aren’t on good terms. And ‘that I was continuing the disruptive behavior’. I haven’t told her anything about the real abuse I endured. I was just relieved that the separation of my parents took the blame in this conversation.

 

She added that ‘I was in a privileged position‘ because I am a white woman with a degree and no children. Well, in my depression I didn’t feel that privileged.

 

We circled back to my work situation. I needed to think hard how many hours per week I could work. I came up with four, which was clearly not the right answer as she reacted a bit ‘shocked’. But, she continued, it was time to be my own parent now and to take care of myself. I agree on that one. We went down to memory lane and talked about my job. She seemed surprised and told me that I didn’t hold enough boundaries in my job and that I needed to put up a clear context for myself. And that it is my job to do so. She asked me why I wanted to work in the field of psychiatry and concluded that my reasoning ‘because I was curious and wanted to learn more about it’ was a very amateurish reason. She apologized for that word but said it anyways.

 

Well time was up and she told me more about herself. She said that she normally explained the way she works at the beginning of the session but that she didn’t do that now. She was also only available on certain days because her husband used this office too and on other days she worked elsewhere. The session was 50, she would text me her bank account.

 

That was it, I was on my way home. The rain stopped and I was a bit angry, dazed and confused. I listened to Thunder by Imagine Dragons as it has the rhythm that I felt inside.

 

What do you make of this? I’m curious to read your reaction in the comments.

 

This post gave Ashley from MentalHealth@Home some inspiration, you can read her post here.

 

 

 

Picture credits click here.

40 thoughts on “Winding road of therapy – Terrible Therapist. Part 8.

  1. From what you say, I think she was quite clumsy with her words, at the very least. Did you feel the same way? That is surprising because as someone who deals with people on a regular basis, she must have also seen a variety of reactions – words that work, words that don’t. Even more so because she has gone into business for herself, so her livelihood depends very directly on her clients thinking their time/money is well spent.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I felt like she totally missed the point why I was even there and I didn’t get the chance to explain it well. Her words weren’t well chosen, I think, she wasn’t ‘tuned in’ to my state of being or words that I would use. I think we learned that in the first year of school. But then again, maybe I’m difficult. I won’t go back though!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That is true and not fair at all. It not something to hold on to in our society. But as we stated earlier I remember, illness doesn’t differentiate. Me being white and all that doesn’t solve my depression. I just felt more hopeless about not being able to tackle my problems on my own (having such an easy life!) and that would be the point of therapy, to do that together. I think such remarks just doesn’t speak very well for a therapist who is acquired to have a neutral position.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, if she was going to say such a thing, she had a responsibility to choose her words more carefully. The absolute worst is to achieve the effect that she did, better not to say anything. As you say woman or white, not relevant.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, if you’re listening to Thunder and enjoying it, clearly something is very wrong. I don’t know you aside from the glimpses you provide here, so I can’t accurately say whether she is correct or not in her diagnosis, but I think the manner she went about carry herself is terrible. She strikes me as somebody who puts themselves above their patients, so therefore has to talk down to them. Finding a therapist is like dating. Sometimes you only need one date to know the relationship isn’t going to work out.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I know that it is my perception of things and maybe this approach can work for others. I was not happy about the way she went about it. In my book she made a lot of ‘mistakes’ and it wasn’t worth the money. Finding a therapist or a good doctor seems to be like dating 🙂

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      1. My only advice is try going against type. I was backed into a corner needing a therapist immediately and the one I was sent to was a referral from a nurse practitioner I’d never met. She sent me to a woman who is only like 3 years older than me. I never would have thought that could be a match, but it’s been one of the best relationships in my life. And ironically, that nurse practitioner is now my regular provider, and I love her to death, even if she is 10 years younger than me. I was always about men who were older doing that kind of stuff with me because they could relate and the age would make them wise. I was totally wrong.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It is true that you can’t predict who you will have a good rapport with. The thing is that I do what she does, I know all the ‘exercises’ and all that. And when I can do it, I don’t need her as so to speak. And all of that is no big drama. It is more dramatic when you really need help and you can’t find it. The timing made it more dire. I’m glad you have a good therapist and a good nurse. What is there more to desire in life? ☺ It’s really important and so good when you can keep them in your life as long as needed.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I really do believe that some professionals are just not the right match for their patients. It seems like she wasn’t the right match for you, as she was going through her list of “reasons” in a mechanical way. Oh, you have this and this problem? Childhood abuse. Oh, you had a bad day? Depression. I would compare her to a fortune teller… I have nothing against them, but they have a mechanical way of doing things too.

    The danger of these health care professions face is slipping into these idealisms or dogmas, and then using it as a large general umbrella to classify all patients aka. Labeling. Instead of being a divergent therapist where you work towards several different reasonings, it sounds like this therapist was working in convergent patterns and coming to her own conclusions rather than exploring the options based on your own, unique situation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You worded that beautifully. It felt ‘mechanical’, going through the steps where the steps became more important than the individual case: me.
      It was a real ‘experience’! I guess I was surprised such practices are still happening and that she had the audacity to point out to me that I wasn’t professional in my job.
      Thanks for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for the complement! 😊 I’m happy that my comment resonated with you. Sadly, these practices still happen in health care. At least you noticed that she wasn’t acting “professional” and won’t be seeing her again. 😅

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, she’s too full of her own opinions i.e. people shouldn’t be off sick for too long, you’re carrying on the disruption etc…. I believe it’s her job to ask questions and paraphrase in order for you to ‘hear’ yourself and make sense of everything. She’s not there to give her opinions, to tell you how privileged you are, about her life, her husband sharing the office etc! She doesn’t sound very professional to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This sounds awful. I would have threw the stuffed animals at her and told her she was a self righteous stereotyping ignorant bitch. How the hell is she supposed to help you when she apparently has no understanding of how to be a therapist. Poopooing people who are coming in for help is the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard. Bad sessions have happened to me many times. From recommending I go skydiving to telling me I’m super fucked up and needed help. Telling me to stay with my abusive husband to telling me 3 drinks were too much a day. To no, there’s no medication that will help you, it’s my own fault. On and on and on. I’m sorry you had to deal with this. Good for you for not making a scene. Man, I would have unleashed on her. I pray you find someone who will listen and guide you with expertise. May you be blessed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wauw, you’ve been through a lot, I’m sorry for that. I would understand threwing things around, maybe stuffed animals. It felt exactly like ‘poopooing me’ and that is a bad feeling when you’re there with your heart in your hands and your head in shambles. Therapist recommending things sounds not as a good sign as I read your answer. There is that fine line, the things you can think about yourself (oh, I would like to go skydiving and maybe have 1 drink a day for a while) and then a good therapist should work with you on a safe environment (no throwing needed) and things you just didn’t think about, that ‘light-bulb-moment’.
      At least we know how to spot a bad/good fit in terms of therapists! Thanks for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lol..I was in a session because I was accused of smoking marijuana before talking to dean. I wasn’t high but he made me go to this session. The lady wanted us to go skydiving instead of getting high. No joke. I told her I was afraid of heights and crashed out on the table from the codeine I’d smoked. Then they sent me to a psychiatrist. She’s the one that told me I was super fucked up and needed help. ???? Then they gave me Xanax. I reacted poorly to it and threw a stool at my boyfriend. Then I went to a psychologist and they would just stare at me. Now when I find a therapist I tell them straight out. I have complex mental health issues. We both need to decide if we can work together. I don’t want anyone feeling bad for me or telling me how fucked up I am. So far so good.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. That sounds like a good start, to be honest in what you expect or what is possible for the therapist. To sugarcoat the issues won’t bring you closer to ‘solving’ them.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow, what a nutbar. It sounds like she’s the one that needs help sorting out her own issues. There is no you… so what’s the point of therapy? Unless she’s a Buddhist and doesn’t think there’s a self at all…

    And sure, there is privilege in being white and educated, but that’s relevant if you’re talking about social justice issues, and has absolutely nothing to do with your right to be unwell.

    People this out there shouldn’t be taking people’s money

    Liked by 2 people

    1. There was no me, she had the fine tuning to revive my trauma, I’ll give her that.
      I didn’t get that remark either about being priviledged, it makes it even worse. How dare I complain? How dare I be ill?
      She was something! And I regret that I payed that money. I told my psychiatrist though and he was very quick to refer me to another therapist. I don’t think she’s good for his PR.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Even if she was a Buddhist who doesn’t believe in individual self, it isn’t professional to bring personal religious beliefs into a therapy setting. Nor is it helpful to reject or judge every response from the patient. As I understand it, therapy is supposed to provide a safe space for patients to explore and resolve the issues confronting them. That was not provided here.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I am just flabbergasted by this story, and I’m very sorry you had to experience this totally counterproductive “therapy” session. What’s especially sad is that it sounds like you were beginning to find your own therapy with the puppets, but she interrupted it instead of working with it.

    There’s a principle in improv theater called “Yes, and.” The idea is that once you begin an improvised scene, you can’t shut down any ideas. You can add to them, but you have to work with them without forcing them to conform to your personal vision. It seems like this dramatherapist could have used a dash of that mentality in her treatment approach.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My other therapist said it was a very good act of self-care that I decided not to go back to her 😅
      The whole session was not really structured, she did interrupt me several times and if she had applied the ‘yes, and’ principle like you said, it would have been more productive. Now it was a tumultous hour that brought me nothing. She touchted on different subjects but left them quickly. It was a strange experience and I can’t see her practicing with a more difficult population. I am an ‘easy’ case, I’m not agressive at all etc. Imagine someone with PTSD or schizofrenia. I really can imagine she won’t get of the hook so easily. The tragedy is that the patient is most likely to be blamed as ‘difficult’ or ‘resistant to therapy’ or who knows what. Not everybody is a master in their craft. Thank you for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve never been to therapy, but I was sure it was all about listening and guiding (as opposed to pushing or shoving) others towards finding their path, well, yes, to being themselves…listening to their own voice, and finding the strength to speak out that true and honest voice in them. I hope you won’t let this encounter discourage you from trying to find how to be you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you got it very right, therapy is essentialy about ‘you’ and how to de-struggle I would think. Thanks to my stuborness I’m still working through everything!

      Like

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