Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Kahless and More Questions - This Time on Therapy

In More Thoughts on Therapists and Therapy Kahless had some questions that she said she was going to ask later. Well, later came and there were no questions so I brought it up. I love answering questions, then I don't have to worry about what I'm going to post. lol

So Kahless asked her questions. She is wondering about her former therapist and her current therapist and their different approached or styles of therapy. Because another blogger had posted that her therapist needs to push her more, she finds herself wondering if maybe that should be the case.

My response is general is that Kahless should trust her feelings. She would leave the former therapist's sessions feeling terrible all the time. While the new therapist she sometimes leaves the sessions actually feeling pretty good. Considering she is normally feeling pretty weighted down, I think the fact that she can leave a therapy session feeling lighter speaks volumes for the quality of that session.

With the former therapist she sometimes dreaded going to sessions but at the same time was terrified of letting go of him. To me that makes perfect sense. She dreaded going because she felt abuse. But she dreaded letting go because she knew she needed help. It was really help she was trying to hang onto not that particular therapist.

So here are the questions....

Q: Last T I would leave the session and feel crap. New T and I leave no worse and often better when I walk away. Is that wrong?

A: No, I don't think that is wrong. I don't think that therapy is supposed to be a devastating experience in and of itself. Sure I have had sessions that dealt with some pretty devastating issues. However, my therapist did nothing to contribute to that devastation. She helped me and comforted me through the process and made it easier for me to deal with these memories at all. Without a supportive therapist at my side I never would have remembered or healed from this crap that is my history.

Not that I didn't leave sessions and feel like I'd been hit by a train, because I did, many, many times. The important part is my therapist was not driving that train. I get the impressions that you last T WAS the train!

Q: Is my current therapist sufficiently challenging me?

A: I don't know that it is a therapist's role to "challenge" you. I do think that there may be an appropriate time in the therapy process to challenge a client who might be stuck. Particularly I know that the treatment for sex offenders does include and is probably primarily challenging the offenders, but that makes sense to me. Since they have so manipulated themselves to not be responsible for their behavior, they must see the truth to be able to work through their issues.

However, I think the role of a therapist dealing with victims of any sort should definitely be different. I would even go so far as to say that I would think that a challenging format would probably be counter productive in most instances.

Victims need be able to tell their stories in a safe environment. They need to be believed. They need to be supported. They need to be accepted and they need to be nurtured. They need to be treated like they have value and that their opinions count. They need to be facilitated in the process of finding who they are and how to take better care of themselves.

Confronting a client and telling them they are wrong all of the time sure isn't going to fulfill any of those needs. On the contrary it is only going to reinforce the destructiveness of the past.

Granted victims usually are riddled with controlling and manipulative behavior. But I believe that behavior corrects itself as a victim works through her/his issues. The more a victim allows herself/himself to see the abusive behaviors of their family of origin and relates to what it felt like to be treated such, the more she/he wants to be no part of such behavior. So victims learn to set aside their destructive behaviors in the process of their healing.

Q: Do I have to be challenged and pushed in a big way?

A: I don't think so. I don't think you or most other victims need to be pushed at all. I think you are challenging yourself all of the time. You ask questions of yourself and you ask for input from others as you check yourself to be sure there is balance in how you are seeing or doing things.

Granted if I go to your blog and find you trashing yourself, I'm probably going to say something about your negative self talk. But I don't get the impression that is what you are talking about with this former therapist. If I'm reading something into it that isn't there, please let me know and give me more details so I can get it straight.

Q: I want someone to understand me. I have not had the experience of someone understanding me in my life. I want to learn that it is possible. So I tell her loads more stuff than I ever told the last T.
What are your thoughts on the subject?

A: I think you tell this current therapist loads more stuff because she is safe. She has proven to you that she can be trusted with your secrets without you feeling like you are being judged. You feel accepted by her.

I don't think that was the case with the first therapist. I think you left your sessions feeling like you were an abused little kid. That would most certainly not be productive therapy.

Have you ever heard the saying, "You are only as sick as you secrets?" Well, I think there is a lot of truth to that. It is the things we are hiding, because we believe that people won't like us if they knew, that control our lives. Healing is about getting all of those secrets out in the open. Obviously that needs to be done with a therapist who is capable of supporting and nurturing us through this process.


Kahless said...

Thanks for this post RR. You know what, my last T was a jerk! That I am sure of now. Part of me wants to write him a letter to tell him :-)
He was a trainee too so maybe a non crticial letter may help him? But then again he never did like what I wrote; he never liked me reading him my blog posts.

Thanks again RR.

April_optimist said...

Good post. My belief is that good (effective?) therapy is a partnership in which both therapist and client respect each other and accept responsibility for doing the best each can to move the process forward. I know without a doubt that I could not have worked with my therapist if he hadn't been willing to trust me to choose when and how to deal with things. I needed someone who believed in me, not someone who would reinforce my already existing belief that I was flawed and hopeless and worthless and never did anything right.

As I said, good post.

keepers said...

boy, therapy and therapists, some confusing, sometimes explosive stuff, and many of us have horror stories re both. it took us a long time to even see the bad situation we were in with a former T and we had to go with our get a lot as things progressed, and it is usually a good gauge of how the therapy is going. support from the T is so important, do they leave you on your own after really hard sessions or are they there for you? Can you ask them questions or do they ignore them? are they rigid in the time allowed no matter where you are in the session or are they flexible? a lot of blogs could be and maybe s/b written about T's and therapy, come to think of it, a lot have been!

peace and blessings